Ioana Petrescu is a Romanian-born poet, poetry editor, translator and academic whose work has been published in a variety of literary magazines nationally and internationally. She started writing poems in English when she came to Australia in 1996, and since then she has had two poetry collections published – I Say… (Wakefield Press 1999) and Fumigated (Ginninderra Press 2001). Ioana has judged several poetry competitions, and she co-edited the Friendly Street Poetry Reader 26, which was launched at the Adelaide Writers’ Week in March 2002.
Both I Say… and Friendly Street Poetry Reader 26 may be purchased from the Wakefield Press website.
A question of image
I know Dracula, believe me,
where I come from he is at home.
He turns up every night at 12 sharp
to oblige the tourists.
His long fangs do not shine in the moon rays
as bright as they used to,
you know, recession, no money
for fancy dental care products.
He spends a lot of time polishing the sign
above the entrance –
‘Transilvania’ it says,
but tourists still think it’s misspelt,
they prefer the version with double s and y.
They wander all over the place aahing and oohing,
some take photographs, others shiver obligingly.
When they all leave, Dracula’s birds make nests
out of Coke cans and fast-food wrappings.
‘It’s difficult to stay in business these days,’
says Dracula while refreshing his make-up.
‘they’ve all read Bram Stoker’s book,
they’ve all seen the movie –
I MUST match the image.’
From Friendly Street No. 21
Whenever he needs
to listen to Chopin
he calls Telstra.
Of course, he has to call
at different times
to get different bits
of the Polonaise.
He considered buying a CD
but if you calculate closely
you come up with an unnerving result:
for $25 (which is the price of the CD)
you can get 512.5 bits of the Polonaise
for only 40c a call.
If you try at the busiest times
you can wait in the queue up to ten minutes.
Ten minutes of Chopin
poured directly into your ear.
May I help you?
asks a friendly voice all of a sudden.
Yes, he says, please,
any Bach, or Mozart?
From Friendly Street No. 22
The plumber’s impressions of Europe
So, what’s wrong with that tap,
Nothing ma’am, just bloody bludgers,
didn’t fix it properly,
and, by the way,
what’s that accent of yours?
I tell him.
I’ve been there, he says.
So how was it? I ask.
I wouldn’t know ma’am,
just flew in, was meant to stay a week,
felt sick on the plane, they took me straight
to a hospital there, can’t remember a thing,
next day they put me on a plane,
sent me back to Vienna.
So how was Vienna?
Don’t know, he says – he was sick.
But I’ve been to London, big town, nice pubs,
met another Aussie, from Melbourne of all places,
but he was quite all right, I suppose,
good bloke, liked a pub-crawl.
I’ve also seen Prague, beautiful town,
then worked a bit on a farm in Israel,
got me some money and flew to the States.
Your tap should be right now, he says,
gathers his tools, calls his dog,
and goes to his next job.
From Friendly Street No. 24