KRAKUSY I PODWÓRKA

 


GENOWEFA

Now hear this it is Spring in the courtyard and we beat our carpets and Easter wash our windows    You on the silver bicycle this is hardly an unforgiving environment    Don’t leave it’s just Sunday keep it down    Come to me my family can you smell the żurek on the stove    Our cooking overpowers the damp concerete crevices before us    Our cooking never overpowers memory    This is Kraków after all and Zygmunt he loved his żurek    Małgosia you come to me too seldomly    And Danielek needs to visit Mietek more    Time for lunch now close the blinds

 

SZAJNIK
We began coming most weekends from Olkusz for a little podniecające Kraków about a year ago    Right when we gave our boy Daniel the haircut of a 1970s clairvoyant    When he calls me ‘Gosia ta kobieta’ as in ‘ta kobieta nigdy nie mi czyta bajki’  I can hear the courtyard chuckling    That is as long as I can hear over our neighbor wailing on his violin    When he’s done treating the courtyard like the Krakowska Orkiestra Symfoniczna he switches to video games and blares his light all night    An aloof glow bounces through the courtyard and our window   And yes it is true we have never bought and thus never drawn a curtain on this window    You can see us lounging on our futon watching Taniec z Gwiazdami  together tonight if you really want    Do you too wonder if this absent curtain is rude    Or if we even lock our doors    Do we know what year it is    Why have we abandoned the courtesy of at least a thin Polish lace on the window    Especially when that shop Clementia Tkaniny Krajowe around the corner has such nice material    But we sleep fine and I don’t have an answer for you    Ask my husband next time you see him shirtless on the porch polishing his shoes    And if you see Danielek running around without pants in the courtyard pay no mind    That’s wioska-styl    Let me tell you too our window wasn’t exactly built to open so this Spring we’ll have our door wide all day    Stop by for some maślanka zapraszamy

 

MIECZYSŁAW
I am Mietek I’m six    I’ve climbed this tree five times in the last year    I get to the top then drop back down and flex my muscles    Sometimes I find bird nests which I bring down and carry around in my school bag    My cousin Danielek comes over and we race around the tree    Doesn’t look like much fun now cause it’s so wet but in the Spring the courtyard Boże jest jak w raju    After my mother has beaten her carpets that is cause that’s when Spring really begins    When Babcia Genowefa appears she hangs over the railing to tell me I mustn’t rip my sweatshirt then always ‘chodz kochany na rosołek’    She keeps balls of dough in her apron and she throws them to get my attention    On the courtyard ground these balls of dough look like the last ruins of a castle

 

BOGUMIL I DOBIESŁAW
I work for Szajnik Extermination Company    The work below this courtyard took me 10 cygary there were so many of them    Rats    About noon I lined them up against the wall to scare off any others and I admired my work with my buddy Dobiesław    He lives in this building as does my daughter Michalina    She likes the neighborhood though it gets a little podejrzany    Like that menel Wincenty from around Stary Kleparz market I know what he’s all about    He made a party with with some local girls in a car over that wall there and the cops showed up    Then there was the day with some sloshed Englishman from one of those damned tourist stag parties    Dobek witnessed this guy wander in off the street to take a leak in the corner there    He laughed red and says to the guy ‘o chłopie  co ty myslisz że to obora kurwa’     The Angol tried to calm him down by offering some imaginary champagne    You believe that    And on his way out the Angol tripped over one of my dead rats and yelled nonsense while holding back a gag    Dobek gave him a ‘witaj w Krakowie bucu’    That cracks me up to this day

 

LUDEK I WINCENTY
We were hired to clean up this cement backyard to make way for a fitness club / pizzeria    Don’t ask me about that combination I don’t know    So we come with a couple cans of Harnaś and organize the bricks    Put up that insulation on the side of the wall there    Still don’t know why we started with that insulation    We’re talking about the Wisła match when I get a call from Szef Kripowski    This guy    I can just picture his pointy fake leather shoes tapping while he tells me stop working the funds have dried up    ‘Co pan mowi że już teraz nie ma pieniędzy na skonczenie  budowy’    ‘Tak robia Krakusy’    Kraków building style yeah start then stop right away    ‘I co z moją forsą’    I say what about my money I’m trying to buy a new car but I don’t remember the answer    So me and Wincenty we curse Kripowski and piss in the corner there    I go back home to Kurdwanów and come back the next night with my old Mały Fiat 126    I bought her in ’85 and drove to Hungary with my neighbor Valuska a couple times to bring back soap and chocolate    Now it barely runs and its lawnmower-sound almost gave out on Autostrada A4    So I pull her in to the backyard where Wincenty’s waiting with a bottle of Absolvent and some paluszki and two girls who work down ul. Krowoderska   What a night we drank in the car tore the seats up    Wincenty it was hilarious he gets on top of the car and is yelling to somebody he knows in the next building    We left before the cops showed up but not before we wrote ‘Kripowski kretyn kurwa’ in the dirt on the hood    That was three years ago can’t believe she’s still there

KRIPOWSKI
Residents here may think my dzien dobry demanding but they should be grateful for at least that    I’d say less to them if it weren’t for my latest venture turning the basement into a brothel    So I’ve got to at least put on some appearance of legitimacy see    I say it’s going to be a fitness club / pizzeria but nobody buys it    They know the operation I’ve got down on ul. Westerplatte    Not my concern what they think I’ve got Ludek and Wincenty heading a team with two Kleparz locals working here six days a week    Sure they leave trails of cigarettes and beer-sweat but there haven’t been any major complaints    Complaints yes a few meetings and general suspicion but that’s normal    I’m having the courtyard landscaped for a little placation    Really keeping the gears greased on this project hasn’t cost me too much    Wait till you see this place in the basement it’ll be zajebiste


 

EUGENIUSZ I HANIA
I was just listening to Parno Graszt    The spoon and water-jug playing bounces around the courtyard    That’s only one reason why they’re pretty much the best band in the world    So what else do I like living here    Well not Kripowski what kind of idea is this to build not only a pizzeria but a pizzeria / fitness club in a basement    We all know it’s going to be some żulernia brothel with girls from ul. Krowoderska and various dresiarze hanging round the courtyard    Then there’s the violin player Duszowicz I think his name is he doesn’t even return hellos    Keeps his blinds drawn to the courtyard while he plays    It sounds like Penderecki’s violin drowned in maślanka then whipped into a melee of shy / jerk confusion    What are you gonna do sometimes you can’t even talk to your neighbor    But what do I like    Coming in with my bike and finding the smell of nasz stary kolega rosolek filling the courtyard’s lungs    Our neighbors hearing us say ‘smacznego dziekuje nawzajem’  more than five six times a day    All this circles round the courtyard    Which certainly looks nicer now that Kripowski’s had it landscaped    But come on that’s not going to cut it for filling the basement with hookers    Anyway    Hania listening to Kapela Ze Wsi Warszawa and choreographing dances in our tiny space    You can hear that out our window    Hania in the doorway checking the warmth and enjoying the birds and laundry drying    She carries the memory of a town completely without courtyards you know    She’s even nicknamed her hometown Pustków ‘the void’    I like to go out on the porch and work on my bicycle like I’m in my front yard in Hamaryka working on a chopper

 

KOKPITOWSKA
Yelling ‘Cześć’ when I want to pop in at Eugeniusz i Hania’s place for candy is so much better than knocking    Just because    That Kripowski and his workers make me mental though    I’ve been down to his stinking cellar to yell at them for their early drilling    They usually go from 7 to 7:45 and take a break till 10    That seems to be the normal schedule of Krakusy workers    And all that violin playing from Duszowicz I told Gienek to set up his drums in protest    Whenever Gienek i Hania come over we often end up talking about how fun it is to run like a chicken or all kinds of death matters    And also whether Czech men are better looking than Polish men    Gienek  said it depends on whether Czech men carry around black plastic bags all the time    Like the locals round the Stary Kleparz market do    I like the black plastic bags that have the Boss logo on them the best    High class    Especially when they’re full of empty bottles of Harnaś    Who’s up for a little courtyard badminton this evening and tomorrow let’s barbecue some salmon out here

 

MICHALINA
I make field recordings around Kraków    Once I recorded the sounds coming out of this beat Mały Fiat I found parked in some rubbish the next building over    There were people partying in the car one night it got pretty wild    The garbagemen every Monday and Thursday morning about 6:30 dragging overstuffed cans down the steps    That’s made for great headache material    Kokpitowska my neighbor said they take their time for fun    To really bring the racket to the courtyard    Now I record Duszowicz’s violin playing on an old dictaphone I picked up from Hala Targowa market    I’m layering the recordings on my computer into a sheet of noise    I’m going to perform this with a few loops and delays at Cafe Św. Krowa soon    I’ve performed there before and Eugeniusz i Hania and Kokpitowska always come    At least until it gets too smoky for them    They’re picky like that    But this Duszowicz o rety    You can’t help but think of courtyard etiquette and Form when you hear his screeching and lack of hellos    I talk about those etiquette issues with Gienek    He can get obsessed with such things but he has his points    He suggested I read from Gombrowicz’s ‘Diary’ over the noise when I’m performing    I’m sure I can find some fruitful sections in there on what could fly as ‘Podwórko Form’    And I plan to slip a copy of the finished product into Duszowicz’s mailbox when I’m done with it    So he can hear what I’ve heard    Yes I do paint my window red every year    Keeps the sun in

 

TADEUSZ
So Gienek and me we’re bolting through the Rynek on our bikes dodging Scandinavian teenagers    The city’s getting so crowded already you know and it’s barely Spring    We head into Planty and find ourselves a nice bench over by the Grażyna i Litwor statue    So we’re chatting and there’s some rustling in the bushes and we catch a glimpse of some Krakus taking a leak    Nothing unusual for Planty in the Spring right   A minute later this bezdomny comes out of the bushes wheeling his scrap metal cart and he sits down with us    He smells like piss and jabol    Says his name is Zygmunt and asks for a cigarette and we have nothing to offer him so I guess he thinks he has to work harder to gain our sympathy    He starts telling us his story by repeating the name Genowefa over and over again    He must’ve said it about ten times before he tells us how she kicked him out fifteen years ago    How he used to work in a factory that made wood paneling somewhere I don’t know but after 1989 everything went downhill and he hasn’t had a job since    Then he repeats Genowefa Genowefa Genowefa over and over again getting louder till the last one he’s screaming and we decide it’s time to move  on    We get up to go and the guy asks us for some change for his jabol    So Gienek gives him five złoty and I give him three    The guy almost starts crying when he sees the money and offers us his hand to shake    I just give a wave cause I know what that hand was holding in the bushes you know    But Gienek shakes the guy’s hand like there’s nothing to it    At this point I can see the guy’s eyes almost welling up and he’s gripping Gienek’s hand for dear life muttering    ‘Kocham cie dziękuję i Genowefa też kocham cie bardzo cie kocham’ all this stuff    And then he takes Gienek’s hand and kisses it twice before Gieniek can pull away    We took off and Gienek said he had to wash his hand like right away    He can be a bit of a germaphobe    So we came back here    That’s Gienek’s bicycle there in the corner    He’s up in my flat scrubbing his hand

 

ZYGMUNT
To jest moje podwórko   
Moja przestrzeń      
Tak cię kocham   
Gdzie jesteś Genowefa    
Czy też masz swoje miejsce

 

COURTYARD GLOSSARY

Krakusy – Krakowians
Podwórka – courtyards
żurek – soup made from fermented rye flour
rozrywka w Krakówie – Kraków action
Gosia ta kobieta – that woman Gosia
ta kobieta nigdy nie mi czyta bajki – that woman never reads me fairly tales
Taniec z Gwiazdami –  Dance with the Stars, a popular Polish TV show
wioska-styl – village-style   
maślanka – buttermilk
 zapraszamy – we invite you
Boże jest jak wraju – God it’s like paradise  
chodz kochany na rosołek
– come my darling for chicken soup 
cygary – slang for cigarettes 
podejrzany – seedy
menel – bum
o chłopie stary co ty myslisz że to obora kurwa – hey man what do you think this is a f**king barn
Angol –  slang for Englishman
witaj w Krakowie bucu – welcome to Kraków jerk
Harnaś – a popular Polish beer
Co pan mowi że już teraz nie ma pieniędzy na skonczenie  budowy – What are you saying sir, that you’re already out of money for the building project
Tak robia Krakusy – That’s how Cracovians do it
I co z moją forsą – And what about my money
Absolvent – a popular Polish vodka
paluszki – pretzels
Kripowski kretyn kurwa – Kripowski you f**king cretin
dzien dobry – good morning
zajebiste –  sh*t-hot
żulernia – a hoodlum dive bar
nasz stary kolega rosołek – our old friend chicken soup
smacznego dziekuje nawzajem – bon appétit thank you you too
jak śmiesz – how dare you
Hamaryka – slang for America
Cześć – hey
o rety – gosh
Podwórko Form – Courtyard Form (the Form that, in short, arises from interactions between people was a fundamental concern for the author Witold Gombrowicz)
Rynek – main market square
Planty – the park encircling Kraków’s old town
bezdomny – homeless person
jabol – a colloquial name for cheap wine
Kocham cie dziękuję i Genowefa tez kocham cie bardzo cie kocham – I love you thank you and Genowefa I love you too I love you very much
To jest moje podwórko – This is my courtyard   
Moja przestrzeń – My space      
Tak cię kocham
– How I love you   
Gdzie jesteś Genowefa
– Where are you Genowefa     
Czy też masz swoje miejsce
– Do you have your own space too

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