FOUR POEMS OF DAN SOCIU

The world needs the poems of Dan Sociu. It probably doesn’t make any sense to talk like this, but we might speak of Sociu as a combination of Bukowski and Rilke. Confessions of real life, with classical rigor—the best of both, and, in combination, better, at times, than either. This seems too easy to say, which is why we qualified it above in strong terms: it “doesn’t make sense.” But surely this slyly advertises, to a certain degree, what we are saying: there is something about the poems below (translated from the Romanian by Ana-Maria Tone) plainly uncanny—odd and strange from the ease of their honesty; matter-of-factly profound from a depth of patient understanding—as in the portrait of the cat, which reminds us of Rilke’s “The Panther'” beyond the mere feline similarity; the time traveling visit to anxious school; the masterpiece of love poet not loved; and finally, a love poem that documents, it seems, almost everything. Nicer than Bukowski, more approachable than Rilke, Dan Sociu is, with or without this comparison, an important poet. Enjoy.

 

SI FRUMOS E CÎND

How sad and beautiful man is when he’s wrong

about the world (and maybe he’ll never

know), like the cat driven mad

by the shining of a knife on the wall.

It forgets about everything else and it flies

into a rage directly to the playful spot

of light—and every time

it falls flat on its face and every time,

without hesitation, it throws itself

on that glow which is actually

nothing, doesn’t mean anything, is

useless. Indeed, if it disappears, it lies

still at the wall and waits,

with trembling whiskers, for it to return.

 

PARE UN VIS UNIVERSAL

It seems to be a universal dream. I’ve heard it

being told by others as well, the first part

is the same at least, the rest depends:

I’m at school, we are given

a test paper and as usual I haven’t studied

anything. I’m afraid and I’m ashamed then

I suddenly realize I finished school

a long time ago, I am an adult and they cannot

do anything to me anymore. I lie back and stretch

my legs on the bench, I look at my classmates

pitifully, how little and clumsy they are, caught

in the anxiety like a fly in a curtain—

don’t you already know that we were born in death

and that all cares are already over?

 

NIMIC NU MAI E POSIBIL

Nothing is possible anymore between me

And a nineteen year old girl, just as nothing

was possible when I was nineteen

years old. I listened to them carefully, they ruffled my hair,

they’d gently reject my touches, no, Dan,

you are not like this, you are a poet. They came

to me for therapy, they’d come with their eyes in tears

to the poet. I was a poet and everyone was in love

around the poet and none with him.

The poet would go out every evening

quaking like a tectonic wave and

in the morning he’d come back humiliated

in his heart—the quakes moving

for nothing, under uninhabited regions.

 

 

BECAUSE WE LISTENED TOFETHER TO THE HEART OF THE LITTLE GYMNAST BEATING IN THE CORNER OF THE HUGE MAT (PENTRU CA AM ASCULTAT)

First there was that beautiful gesture of yours in the bus

when you caressed with your fingers in the paper the photo

of a writer who died at 27.

 

I had seen girls doing that to celebrities’ faces before

and your gesture, very short and sensuous, on the features

of a dead young man, of a stranger,

moved me like a hundred obituaries.

 

Poor dear, you said.

 

I sensed you then, through your whole disguise

beyond your nice PR persona

I perceived the little girl who struggled to grab

a flower on the lower branch of a cherry tree.

 

Then there was a Sunday afternoon in the subway to the railway station.

We were talking about kids and I said that I didn’t want any more kids,

that I didn’t feel up to it. And that it would be unfair to my daughter.

 

In the station you kept trying to get out by the other door,

the one that leads to the disgusting abyss between the tracks

and you hid your eyes so I wouldn’t see you crying.

 

You once told me—I’m not beautiful, not in the classical sense.

And I told you—I know, I mean at first I knew,

now I don’t care anymore.

 

Some other time you told me you weren’t conceived out of love

and I wondered where you got all your love from.

 

So what if your parents didn’t want you.

I wanted you.

 

 

 

 

 

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