7 Poems
by Rodica Draghincescu
translated from the Romanian by Adam J. Sorkin & Antuza Genescu

Printer-friendly version




THE RAILROAD ANGEL

The angel moves slowly
the engineers beg him to display himself
at least for a photograph taken in a hush
since YOU NEVER KNOW
because of Duta from the vegetable train
LAST SUMMER he took in a lame stork
he kept her IN HIS LITTLE CABIN gave her food and water
you don’t have words for so accursed a face
for an EPIDEMIC for the devilish caterwauling
the stork stuck her head out of the TAR-SMEARED WINDOW and called clatter-clatter
LOOK THE TRAIN’S CLIMBING TO THE SKY
the retired signalmen took off their hats
wailing such woe over the engine parked in the railroad yard
he gave her bread and MILK she laid a tiny egg
then a huge one from out of it
then WHAT CAME OUT was wild whey
the big egg transmogrified INTO A MARKET
WITH A CHILD droop-eared and oafish no arms no legs
DUTA’S REAL GOOD AT FINDING HELP
Ersila BARGED IN
HEY LOOK THE STORK’S FLYING FROM THE TRAIN
IT’S GONNA GO SHOPPING
endowed with reason the stork flew
ever HIGHER she sooooooaaaaaared up and away
to where there’s neither evil nor human corruption
The child? he’d already grown little wings and a pale yellow aura
Duta opened the window to let cool air reach THE HEAD OF HIS BED
The child fleeeeew off (SOARED AFTER her)
pale-yellow wind commenced to howl
a woman’s voice on the radio predicted cold and snow
Duta wept as he doodled A STORK
on his I.D. documents with a dull brown pen
THE ENGINE LUMBERS AHEAD LIKE A COW BEHIND HER CALF
YOU’VE LOST 10 BOXCARS A TOUGH BREAK MR. STATION MASTER
Ersila kept teasing him levying fine after fine
in the RECEIPT BOOK
THE RAILROAD ANGEL? the engineers found him under the freight train
going clatter-clatter like a stork
MAYBE THAT KID HE’S HIS YEAH THE STATION MASTER’S
OR ELSE HE’S HEADED TO THE CARNIVAL TONIGHT
THE RAILROAD ANGEL
the woman who was chief of the warehouse stuck up for him
wiping his feathers clean of the tar

the angel moves slowly
they give him a competition number
the engineers beg him TO DISPLAY HIMSELF
to try to win the prize for originality at least

he’s a droop-eared and oafish boy no arms or legs
LOOK THE ANGEL’S LEARNING TO SUFFER
Ersy laughs stretched out on his back
THAT’S HIS KID YEAH DUTA’S with the hag who sweeps the market

the angel rises up slowly
the boy’s incapable of removing his tar-smeared wings
the wind opens the window TEACHES the boy to fly
WHAT? ANOTHER STRIKE?
NOTHING MAKES NO DAMN SENSE TODAY









I’M WRITING YOU DIRECTLY ON EARTH

I’m naked
I’m writing you/myself directly on earth
I’m forever writing you/myself
(the mailman refuses to reach out his hand
he crawls on the edge
sniffing)
maybe there’s an initiation in the physical depth of the gesture
multiplied through a slit in the body
already fingered
guided between good and evil
(he crawls
ripping his shirt in the name of the cause
of this bizarre nude
with its long pale blue aura spreading
through the fissures in the epidermis
when his days had invented
love shadowed by distance)
GREAT PEOPLE ARE SO SMALL
IN THE MATERNITY OF PLEASURE
I’VE CARRIED THEIR DESTINY
HORMONES AND NERVES
SOME ALSO REPORT THAT THIS IS WHY
I BELIEVE MYSELF EMPEROR OF RAILROADS
ONLY TWO ARE REAL
THE REST IN FACT ARE FAKES
(THE NIGHT ONES HAVE WHITE TRAINS
AND THEY GO BACKWARDS
GREEN ONES EXIST ONLY IN THE PASSENGERS’ MINDS
A SPECIES OF CLOVER IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BRAIN
UNDER WHICH THE NOISIEST RACKET
DEVOURS WHATEVER’S CLOSE BY)
UP THERE A COLOR MUST BE SPOKEN OUT LOUD
OTHERWISE IT’S LOST
IN THE PHYSICAL DEPTH OF THE GESTURE OF SIGHT
he who asks gives answer
he who gives answer asks once more
LITTLE MIRROR WHY DO YOU BURN FACES
BEFORE IT’S NECESSARY
GIVE UP WRITING MA’AM
(a final understanding of love)
I CAN’T CARRY THE EARTH
TO THE ADDRESSEE
(THE AFORESAID ADDRESSEE DOESN’T DESERVE YOU
HE EATS LUNCH IN A TRAVELING CIRCUS)
I arrange myself on the railroad tracks
pillow my letters under my head
in the name of the father I left the radio on
the telephone the television friends’ voices enemies’
in the name of the son I pulled weeds from my photos
in the name of the holy ghost I interbred with things
until their flames took shape as stags
NO I answered
to the first photograph dealer’s greetings
NO
the second kept shoving the first
towards everlasting rest
NOOOOO
Many vowels as on visitors’ day or payday
(is the mailman doing his job? the mailman watches the switch closely)
A COMMONPLACE RAILROAD ACCIDENT
(he waters his letters as if they’ve just been transplanted
presses a hand against his temple)
WHO’S THE ADDRESSEE? WHY IT’S ME!
I answer him plainly
YOU? ARE YOU AFRAID OF YOURSELF?
GIVE UP WRITING MA’AM
NEARLY EVERYONE BELIEVES THEY’RE AN ADDRESS
THERE BELOW LOVE GETS RUN OVER
IT’S A FAKE IN FACT ONE BODY TOO MANY
THE NIGHT ONES HAVE PRIORITY
AND PAY TRIBUTE TO THE DAY ONES
THE TRUE ONES LIVE ONLY
AFTER THE TRAIN’S GONE BY
THE ONE YOU’VE TORMENTED YOURSELF TRYING TO SWALLOW FOR 30 YEARS
GIVE UP WRITING MA’AM
YOU’LL CATCH COLD










MIRRORS AND APPLAUSE

My arms are too long
it would’ve been better for you if they’d been cropped in time
before marriage
when you looked for puppets under my skirts
and started crying
because they held nothing
(that night I went
to the graveyard with grandma she made me
walk naked among the graves)
FROM NOW ON THE ENEMIES WILL CRAVE ANTS
EARTH AND WET GRASS
FROM NOW ON YOU’RE NO LONGER THEIRS
after a night of ferocious love
my arms are too long
A WOMAN LACKING A MASTER
LOOK HOW HER HANDS FOLLOW HER
BITCHES WITH PUPPIES
HE’S NO BEAUTY
BUT HAS A BEAUTY SPOT
(ON HER BACK ON HER BELLY
ON HER KNEE)
FROM WHICH (IF YOU TOUCH IT)
FOUNTAINS WILL GUSH SPECIAL DROPS
(SEPARATED BY MIRRORS AND APPLAUSE)
my arms are too long
I can’t remember when I last saw them at home
don’t worry don’t worry
grandma will wind her clock
there were a few greedy ones
and now they’re framed in green
SLY SPROUTS DRIVEN OUT OF HEAVEN
NICO’s six-inch heels
sink into the pavement
LUST MAKES MAN FLOURISH
AND SHAKES HIM INTO A HEAP
my arms are fiery
the thing is not to touch them suddenly
ONLY THE STUPID WATCH FILMS AT NIGHT
GO TO BED YOUR MOTHER’S ON HER WAY HOME FROM THE NIGHTSHIFT
SEVEN ABORTIONS
I CAN’T HELP MYSELF
IF TV SHOWS LEGS SPREAD WIDE APART
grandma’s kneading the bread with her fists
she nods off gets startled by owls / wakes up drinks water
DON’T WORRY IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT HOLD OUT YOUR HANDS I’LL PUT SOME ICE ON









LOVER I’M NOT BUT I PROMISE WE’LL BE

I enclose myself in my circuit of solitude
I leave speak and sit
I sit as after the first dictation at school
when I started clapping
and stirred up the flies on the ceiling
I hold the continent in the mirror between my legs
with the pleasure of fin de siècle beaches
from room to room
carbon copies of capillary festivals
I’m always busy
I get up from my chair lean against the wall
these doors repeat my gestures
threshing the air
I shout / my thighs smack together
DARLING COME CARESS THEM
(he’s still nowhere
wearing just a hat
an outlaw from a shop window
valid whenever there’s a moon
as in Constan?a)
I’m very docile
the midwife slapped my bottom
when I was born
then washed me at the water pump with one hand
SHE CAME OUT BACKWARDS SHE’LL BE QUITE SOMETHING
BETTER THAN GOOD

in the dark
DARLING I LONG FOR YOU
vapors rise from my toes
my dress is melting
(all the dresses I live in end the same way)
this one even ignited above the mirror
DARLING YOU COULD LIGHT YOUR CIGARETTE NOW
he phones me as a sign of homage
whispers in flames and smoke
(a shameful habit for someone who loves paper)
in the end he smothers
YES YOU’LL RECEIVE A FREE SUBSCRIPTION
(on my knees your name without you
is a model of courage a myth)
HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO
(somebody arrived he hung up)
we’re so much alike when we can’t hear each other
I wanted to ask you WHEN WILL YOU BE
I get up from my chair
lean against the wall
then our close embrace inside the wall
lover I’m not but I promise we’ll be










SINCERELY YOURS, R.D.

I sit on the railroad tracks
my body will be shared in (l)egalitarian ways
the angels won’t feel ashamed
to drink their morning coffee
because of me
I sit on the railroad tracks
(I expound on the politics of grass
and stones institutions or the functions of hierarchy)
from head to toe I’m a decorated member
(with certificates bearing an official seal)
of two world towns
the navel I and the bigger navel
for which my parents paid rent (almost a year)
to Irene the Fate
I sit on the railroad tracks
STATION MASTERS WALK IN PEACE
SPRINKLE SALT ON YOUR TONGUE
AS IF TASTING OF MY BLOOD
WITHOUT SINNING / DO YOU SAVOR IT?
I’VE NEVER BEEN SWEETER SALTIER
DON’T LOOK AT THE TRAIN as if… God forgive me
later you’ll learn
life is much more alive than is possible
beyond the scent of man
(animals are rejected flowers
birds fish insects worms
follow a lunar path
vegetation fire air water…)
keep your gaze fixed
put a sheet of tracing paper over your eyes

I sit beside the railroad tracks
as the expected man’s shadow dwells in his body
ILLUMINATION MASTERS / CAN’T YOU SEE ANYTHING?
PUT A GRASS BLADE ON YOUR TONGUE
IT TASTES LIKE SORREL

in the dim foreground the room
the puffing gestures of an engine climbing a hill
without sinning you can learn about me
that I’m very well thank you
I climb and descend into / out of miraculous bodies
(the same train has stopped at the signal)
I wish you my very best
sincerely yours, R.D.








GOOD MORNING IN THE MOST UNUSUAL WAYS

good morning in the most unusual ways
behind this sticky cellophane
there’s my ten-story apartment block
I live on the ground floor
if you knock seven times on the parquet door / with the renaissance knob
you’ll see I’m not lying
GOOD
daytime divided into syllables sounds like hell
on paper it sounds authoritative
good morning
I pirouette around my day / I put my seal on it
I’m becoming the statue of my solitude
my specialty is a musical foundation
as I wait here day pecks at my palm
eventually there’ll be nothing left to peck
good morning
I echo others’ greetings
they don’t like how I coo
good moooooooorning
I’ll never offer them a good morning again
to feed their illusions
I’m not disciplined
I’ve barely escaped poaching an idea
in which I wanted to hide my bidet
the day wears away for the very same reasons as evening
at evening’s close my hair fades to white
I’m fidgety I switch off the lamp
my hair sheds light on what’s to come
good morning then good morning when
good morning just good morning even
backwards good morning forwards the same good morning
and everything else good morning forever
the yellow room where I greet you expects a tip
so good morning
life is round and in the middle of it a rectangle
waits for you like a bus at its stop
good morning I whisper in your ears
in your eyes good morning towards green
good morning towards purple black’s above everything
and alone
solitude turns itself into a mountain
there the greeting gets borne on the shoulders
in the form of a Latin wing
SALVE
my solitude is broad-backed and strong
it does not believe in wombs breasts and associated organs
the goodmorninginside-goodmorningoutside style
soon after goodmorningfarewell
okthengoaway
that’s why children in choirs and their grandmothers in trams
sing about good morning
what’s he saying what’s he saying
he’s saying good morning
which should suggest
we talk only to ourselves
as we search for the magical solitude
good morning inexhaustibly.










WHAT LEADS TO PERFECTION


            a text with a crank and butterflies


1.  I was a suicide before I was born
each component part of my body
had a crank of butterflies
when I turned it
I changed the colors of my blood
into something white creamy forbidden
COME LET ME KISS YOU / I told myself hiding in the mirror
and the butterflies became fingernails
of every size and kind
(whose are they where do they come from where do they go
like construction workers’ barracks
long bright nails short nails
fantastic spirals cut in the form of a star)
YES: NO I WASN’T / it was a heap (…)
and I baptized my joy at my nails
with the idea of my mama (cut the m cut the a)
2.  when I was 18 minus 18
I’d write poetry with my fingernails
(nobody could imitate me
they knew it and they bawled)
3.  I multiplied myself in graffiti
on the maternity hospital walls
(remember without repeating
the dear sweet smut
keep up you courage)
each part of my body
wasn’t or was provided with nails
they could cut through anything
COME LET ME
the ones in the mirror shouted at me
(they traded equally among themselves
the grand gestures of childbirth)
when I was 30 minus 30
I’d write poetry with the act
(nobody could imitate me
they wiped their foreheads with a knife-blade
intellectualizing in vain)
4.  I committed suicide so nicely and neatly
that honey dripped
from every part of my body
(an exhausting kindness at liberty to badmouth
what leads to perfection)
MAKE PEACE WITH YOURSELF
the man and the child-god in the mirror
told me in turns
(the same poisoned colors
drunk at the first whiff of twilight)
WHY WON’T YOU HAVE YOURSELF?
I didn’t want myself for only a moment
(faultless the moment
faultless the being)
notices about them on every bed
on every door
5.  I descended in writing
under the diagonal of orgasm / between you
and the shadow
each component part of the sin
tore a remarkable gash in the manuscript
(the so-called bones)
at the crying of the poem by its embryonic title
(thrown on paper from the top floor of semantics)
the initials interjections arguments
of those who wait for me perfumed
so as to rise again / each component part
of my body (as a chorus):
MAY SHE LIVE MAY SHE BE
each component part of my body
hadn’t the least premonition of me
I could pass through anything
to win a certificate of womanhood
I gave birth (to a man to make an example of myself)
being a void I couldn’t exist but I was
a sort of date letter deed
an extravagant form
sent before I was born
YES: NO I WASN’T NOT / it was a birth stuffed with
so many rosy prospects
(wearing a head attaining the rank of woman
subtle bribes for an insemination at the exact instant foreordained
by legend and tradition)
I could pass through anything
I was beyond the possible
I rode the void to carry me
(the sweat of the gallop the bordered
lands and seas of solitude)
nobody could imitate methey looked at what they couldn’t see
every once in a while they leapt from the window
in hopes of crushing me inside my egg
(like a frog’s egg)
they wiped their foreheads with the knife-blade for their pleasure
in a futile effort to cheer themselves up
6.  when I was 108 minus 108
I was a suicide before I put myself together
each part of the nonexistence of me
(me + Me + mE + ME)
recovered itself (mirror after mirror)
through the eroticism of a wise man
MAKE PEACE WITH HIM
the woman and the saint with green lips told me
DISMOUNT AND SHOW YOURSELF
7.  (an exhausting kindness in the habit of badmouthing
what leads to perfection / the stain
that bears your name)
8.  my name was my first love
I dug it out of myself with a spade
and set this poem deep in its place
9.  each part of my void / my depths
devised a strategy against self-disgust
I inspired and expired I rotated the mirrors
my fingernails my teeth my crank of butterflies
I lived as a father as a mother as
an escape from / towards myself
I suffered and gave myself leave to cry
between honey of the bee and poison of the self
(nobody could imitate me
they all swam they didn’t know that
when you wrote on it
water wasn’t a liquid) exhausting
evil used to speak fondly
of what smolders in hourglasses / paper
10.  HE’S MY LOVER
11.  each part of my lover
was / is lucky and really wasn’t / is without me
we passed / pass through anything
to obtain / adorn the certificate
of man and woman
born for each other
we made an example of ourselves / we functioned perfectly
according to Waldorf pedagogy
there are several square meters of poem
in this respect
12.  I made love to me through him
(what leads to perfection / to the stain
that bears his name
it was his name that I first loved
and I demanded that it should be filled with me
13.  COME LET ME KISS YOU he whispered BEFORE AND AFTER
we were a bit tired
nobody could imitate us
nobody could take our measure
they just listened in silence)
I was writing poetry with the act