CAKE AFTER CAKE AFTER CAKE

Crumbs, studies and pastiches.

by Antonis Katsouris

Little by little the smell
of Kate’s burning cake
spreads in the fresh country air.*

It took me almost an hour to burn 30 songs onto a CD for M., but I just can’t leave her without music. She likes to listen to these lost songs from the sixties in the kitchen when she bakes cakes for her small patisserie. And sometimes she borrows their titles to give the strangest names to her cakes … Riki Tiki Cake, Blueberry Blue Cake, Color Your Daytime Cake, Mellow Yellow Cake, 10.000 Sunsets Cake, Misty Mirage Cake… My favorite one, full of psychedelic calories and dangerously fattening, is the Fat Angel Cake. She bakes it every Monday and Thursday.**

A spring picnic. What a marvellous idea! The day is perfect. What shall we take with us? All the good things. The small portable ice box with two bottles of white chilean wine. The basket with the chicken sandwiches, the carrot pie, the cake that I’ve just baked and the hot tea thermos. Paper plates, forks and knives, and lots of napkins too. But we can’t go on a picnic without a tablecloth and a car. Do you have a car?

My older sister wears her checked dress; for dad.
My older sister lets her hair to grow long; for dad.
My older sister prunes the garden roses; for dad.
My older sister knits a grey cardigan; for dad.
My older sister returns home early every Saturday night; for dad.
My older sister makes her super Sunday cake; for dad.

(a folk tale)

In the small village I come from, on the first week of May all the girls who reach marrying age have to pass the test of a secret recipe. They bake the groom’s cake and if it doesn’t rise, then it is taken as incontrovertible proof that the girl who baked it is not a virgin anymore -and then what groom would ask her to be his bride? This May I’m not a virgin anymore, but I am an apprentice witch. And my cake will rise of course, as it will rise every May; though this is not important to me. After all, a serious witch never gets married. And if she truly wishes so, she can have all the males of the village. And if she truly wishes so she can have all the children of the village.

I found the table as we’d left it the night before. With the wine bottles, the glasses, the dishes with crumbs from T.’s cake, the flowers that A. had brought (white and yellow carnations), the eyeglasses that P. probably forgot, and next to them my fortune cookie from the chinese take-out. At last night’s cookie game we decided to read them aloud by adding the phrase “in bed” at the end. Ι won easily -a suspiciously subversive “fortune” for a rare monogamous male like me … “Now is the time to try something new” – “in bed”. Everybody laughed knowingly except me and T.. I smiled at him and kissed him. I’ll try it with you, I whispered.**

Like a pebble
Kate’s cocoa cake is sinking
in the transparent water of the swimming pool.*

If Emily Dickinson was a cake, she would be a lemon cake.
If Susan Sontag was a cake, she would be an almond cake.
If Marguerite Yourcenar was a cake, she would be an Academy cake.
If Jacqueline Susan was a cake, she would be a Vanity cake.
If Virginia Woolf was a cake, she would be Kate’s cocoa cake.
If Joan Didion was a cake, she would be a cake with no sugar.
If Ann Sexton was a cake, she would be a cake-with-no-mercy.
If Katherine Mansfield was a cake, she would be a ginger cake.
If Sappho was a cake, she would be a pergamont cake.
If Gertrude Stein was a cake, she would be a cake-well-is-a-cake.

May I offer you some cake?

It was a rainy Tuesday when this rather cute and harmless incident happened. I felt sorry -perhaps too much so- for the drenched postman and I invited him for a quick hot tea which I served on the round table at the entrance hall along with some cake that I bought yesterday from M.. I asked the young courier not to call me “sir”, and as we were making small-talk about the news of the neighborhood, the domestic “accident” happened. A small piece of cake fell on his trousers and I instinctively kneeled to clean it with a napkin. And, without wanting to, I touched lightly his own “cake” – although, thinking back, it might have been just my imagination. I thought that he was turned on but maybe it was just my idea, although he definitely blushed and looked at me with eyes full of embarrassment. We ended our chat as if nothing happened, we started for the door, I reminded him not to call me “sir”, and I told him that there is cake every Tuesday and Friday. It was not raining anymore and I hurried to the phone to call M. and tell her the news about the success of her cake and that from today on I am the second member of the postman’s fan club. The first member is M. as it goes for almost all the fan clubs we have already created; ten or maybe more, one for every unknown young attractive man of our uneasily quiet suburb.**

Make somebody happy today-bake a cake!
A chocolate cake for the man in your life.
Or a white cake with peppermint frosting for “the girls” coming for bridge.
Make a sponge cake for Grandma, as lovely-light as the kind she used to bake.
Bake a cake-have a party.
Bake a cake to take to a party.
Bake a cake just because you feel good today.***

Kate fails for the sixth time
to bake a simple cake
and decides to change her small oven.*

I’ve made up my mind. The older I get the more I hate winter. I consider it my enemy and a very serious threat to my activities and moods, and I’m not ruling out at all the possibility of going into hibernation at a more advanced age. And today the winter that seemed to have forgotten us returned uninvited threatening us with frost and snow. My reaction was predictable; I subjected T. to my hypothermic hysteria. I strictly forbade him to bake his seasonal cakes again. The ones he usually stuffs with dried fruits and nuts so as to remind him of his childhood in that hyperborean land where he was born.
Not even one?, he asks.
I don’t need any of your forest products to be your little bear, I answered him and returned to bed.**

If you have already failed in all of your efforts to arouse the erotic and sexual desire of a new person you’re attracted to, or to rekindle the spark of a fading passion, then don’t get disappointed too fast… You have one last chance to succeed by following the magic recipe below – under its spell that person will be truly unprotected and vulnerable.

Choose a Friday night and start!
First make a poppy seed cake in a round pan. Bake it and let it cool.
In the centre of the cake’s circle light a purple candle and let it burn for nine minutes offering its flame to god Pluto.
Now write down in a pink sheet of paper the name of the person, the number 22  and the symbols for sun, moon, bird and wind.
Burn the paper in the candle flame.
Take its ashes, the candle and the cake and bury them in the east side of a park or a garden.
Repeat the spell for three weeks at the same time and day with devotion, faith and patience.

With a Chios kerchief over her hair
Kate is trying again and again
to make a proper mastic cake *

* From the 33 Haikus for Kate, 2011.
** From A.N.’s Diaries, 2001-2010.
*** From Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, 1950.

A COINCIDENCE … ISN’T IT A COINCIDENCE?

by D. I.

Doubting perpetually
Everything becomes enormously unstable. Do I have to look at you while I’m talking? Avoid eye contact. I am only imagining; using the mouth and both hands. Love
Supreme to you. There’s something I haven’t told you.
I desire you frantically.
Reliably. Enormously. Does anyone overhear me? I won’t ask this murmuring to stop again. Εven if it stays a remarkably private
Episode.

YOU WILL BE SAFE

by Dimitra Ioannou

You’ll live in the suburbs.

You’ll return home passing by family houses with curtains drawn open. You’ll know who is out and who is in. You’ll always leave the ground floor curtains open so that they’ll know when you’re out and when you’re in.

You’ll cut fresh roses from the garden to put in vases. You’ll hire a gardener. He’ll cut off those branches that hang over the partition wall so as not to disturb the neighbours. He’ll root out the weed. You’ll replace all the withering plants with new ones so as to impress your guests.

You’ll turn off the living-room and dining-room lights by eleven. You’ll close behind you the small door at the top of the staircase and activate the alarm. You’ll sleep with the telephone next to you. You’ll call the security company whenever you hear unusual noises.

You’ll tell fairy tales in front of the bathtub.
You’ll have a small store room for toilet paper and detergents. It’ll be used for their punishment.
You’ll go for a picnic in the forest, ten minutes away by car.

You’ll invite me over for a few days. I’ll have my own room. I’ll wake up later.
We’ll go for bike rides. You’ll make lots of long distance calls.
We’ll see each other little. I’ll vaguely describe my time to you.

We’ll spend one of the last nights together. You’ll order food for three. I’ll pop to my room. I’ll meet you again in the kitchen. You’ll talk without ending your sentences. You’ll be repeating “What was I supposed to do?” I’ll leave you quickly.

I’ll get up at night. Only the sound of the refrigerator will be heard. Everything will be in its place.

I’ll wake up from the knock at the door. It’ll be Saturday. We’ll say good bye. You’ll send me a last message.

She’ll be afraid of you constantly.

*

Translation edited by Chrissa Babouris.

AT THE TEMPLE OF SAD STORIES

by Dimitra Ioannou

I am an old boudoir full of withered roses.¹

– You won’t desert me, will you?
– Never.
– Would you please pretend that you don’t lie?
– Don’t talk nonsense!
– Who do you like better, me or Eddie?
– You, of course.
– Would you set on tears if I start to cry?
– You’re exaggerating.
– Never desert me.

At the mercy of black passion.

– Do you like to sing?
– A lot. When I hold the microphone all the world is mine.
– What do you feel when you are singing?
– I am happy. It’s like being transfered to another dimension; like living a Cosmic moment.
– Would you sing something for us?
– Of course.

Would you take me to your arms once again? / We have enough time. / I’ll close my eyes for a while. / Please hold my hand. / Do you hear? The rain makes such strange sounds here. / Would you take me to your arms till I fall asleep? / Yes, together for ever. / Please hold my hand.

Are idylls the opposite of decadence?


*

“the beauty was never completed in any single detail of the temple: for each detail adumbrated the beauty of the succeeding detail. The beauty of the individual detail itself was always filled with uneasiness. It dreamed of perfection, but it knew no completion and was invariably lured on to the next beauty, the unknown beauty. The adumbration of beauty contained in one detail was linked with the subsequent adumbration of beauty, and so it was that the various adumbrations of a beauty which did not exist had become the underlying motif of the Golden Temple. Such adumbrations were signs of nothingness, nothingness was the very structure of this beauty.”²

*

At Linda’s apartment. She brings her birthday cake. She puts it on the coffee table and tidies up the room. She wears a wig with white roses.

The energy that exists inside a dream until it is destroyed.

– Welcome home.
– I know what you did.
– I don’t want to loose you.
– Don’t cry. No tears for me. No, thank you. “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” What a joke! You’re getting old.
– You’re cruel.
– Your time is over.
– Just like that?

Can you go on without geting some kind of response?

You’re like sweet poison in me. / You’re in my mind and the time is the past. / The reason for my passion is you. / It’s too late for me now. / This hypnotic song takes me away. / Only your voice has the power to wake me up. / Where are you? / Will you let me go away?

No, you can’t.

*

– Do you like your role?
– A lot. But I’d prefer that Lida doesn’t commit suicide.
– What do you feel when you’re acting?
– I am never so much myself than when I am not myself.

*

Eddie walks amongst the graves holding a big white rose. Lida’s funeral. The wreath has white roses and a black ribbon.

When, O dusky beauty, you shall rest.³

– Look Eddie! The graves are sinking!
– I wish the whole country would sink.
– The ones that haven’t been washed away by the waters soak. They are all artificial, artificial flowers from the graves!
– I wish the whole country would sink.

THE END

NOTES

1. Charles Baudelaire, “Spleen”, The Flowers of Evil

2. Yukio Mishima, “The temple of the Golden Pavillon”, 1956. Translated by Ivan Morris. Published by Alfred A. Knopf.

3. Charles Baudelaire, “Posthumous Remorse”, The Flowers of Evil.

THE PARCEL

by Dimitra Ioannou

They don’t need to breath. They’re turning yellow, they will go mouldy, they wither. They are arranged on top and next to one another in the same package. Neither souvenirs, nor fragile; rather, samples. One more. A few. They were either given to me or I found them. If you see them all together they seem to lie in waiting, not at all idle inside their wrapping―they were gathered; they will get somewhere. The lizard is the last one to be wrapped.

They are sent by registered post. Neither important, nor gifts. The name and address of the sender are the same as the recipient’s. The parcel will normally arrive in ten, fifteen days, and if I delay I might receive it one month later. Until then they will have become unrecognizable. Not to be opened. They will return in extensive rot. I’ll have to remember them as they were. Neither intimacy, nor nostalgia. The lizard was green, with no tale, bigger than the others. A slow organic process.

I’ve been watching them, one by one, for some time now. Bubble-wrapped they become a blur and I know what will happen next.