Aurel Dumitrașcu was bom on 21 November 1955 at Piatra Neamț and died of leukemia in the autumn of 1990. He studied French and Romanian at the University of Iași and in 1976 made his debut in the magazine Luceafarul. In 1981 he won a competition for first-time writers held by the publishing house „Albatros“, but the book „Furtunile Memoriei“ (Tempests of Memory) appeared only in 1984, due to ideological reasons. His editorial expertise also won him awards. In 1986 his second volume of poetry „Biblioteca din Nord“ (Library in the North) was published by „Cartea Românească“. He worked as a consultant for the Ministry of Culture in the county of Neamț and contributed to leading magazines.
Poetry won’t keep silent
The poem always resists. First against any form of collectivism,
of salvation through the herd. Never in the history of poetry in
this space has the poet been more consistently subversive, so
that it could well be that all the books of my generation are
anti-totalitarian. In an ideological tower of Babel, we cannot
come up with a phonic Babel. We would have hoped to hear
another kind of ‘music’. To be silent means to consent, to
fraternize. Each verse, intersecting many other voices and a
general state of depression, has assumed a moral sense. To get
out of the knot. But how? Every poem – an attempt to gain
access to the road to freedom. In all its forms.
Take sleeping pills and shut up
– The sky and the stockings and circe and others entered my
house introduced themselves and announced I was one of
them And if I am just so much earth: I’m a handful of earth in
which a note-book lies patiently full of rubbish. Because from
ink you can make yourself
and a passport.
And the sky and the stockings and CIRCE and others talked to
me when the dragon walked through that Fayre-of-a-city after
blood. I had a beautiful grandmother with wings and she
never touched a man but threw herself at the Gods at evening
prayer. Perhaps the dragon visited her. How many things a
poor woman remembers – during holidays I even grew to
understand her, I even dreamed of her!
The sky and the stockings and circe…
And everything that’s not worth remembering.
– Some confusing news wants to change the working day of an
obedient man. The man stands on the edge of the forest and
looks at the town with an ice-floe for a heart. On a sheet of
paper his mother prays to a word which just uttered would be
enough to cut off her son’s right hand or nose so no one will
notice him anymore. Confusing news won’t fatten the pig in
this derelict sty of a life, never and I mean it. I no longer wait
for it. I don’t much care for obedient men who stand at the
edge of the forest contemplating the town. I care for the linen
that gives off love from the poorly dressed dead. I care for
music. I talk to the owl and converse with galoshes. Every-
thing is black. We’re plotting a great concert.
Return of the voice
– No one speaks in verse any more. We’ve completely tamed
kings, clowns and madmen – everyone
has sent me thanks in obliterated envelopes stamped porto franco.
A small sadness came with the first strophes
one could almost say that the page swarms with doweryless maidens.
For many years I’ve hardly seen myself at fun-fairs, hardly smile in
newspapers – they take the lambs to the guillotine. Those I love. I’m
hiding them lying they’re already dead. Alone I’ve tamed
kings, clowns and madmen, for all of them I’ve fantastic
news. I wrote this to water: don’t mind me, I’m a sad soul
in which geometry is blind yet I’m free.
And what do they think about me, those wild hangmen, when I talk
with their women until dawn? They’ll grow silent in the poem, I’ll
keep the doors open. But never ask whom I’m reading the poem to while
they’re still praying, please don’t ask.
The uproar of silence wakes the orphans.
The best year
The year in which you die is the best year. Others have also
waited for it, prayed for it wanting to jump the queue ahead of
you but you have quietly reached its heart. And you especially
wanted a good time with the wife. It is a good year! While she
was letting her hair down in vague circles of smoke. You had
clothes, good ones, even got into good habits of wearing good
clothes – you even had choice – in the town, it rains down over
the hubbub of funeral carts. And you’ve not ventured out
again, you smiled together, along with the red wine in the
mugs. Then no one added anything. A little blind girl on a wall
plays a trumpet.
Yorick from the white page
Poor Yorick sleeps under red rains.
All those from good families have posed
with him. Now that September’s here he hurls
in my face: You are guilty! Only you
failed to pose there! I shut myself in the house
I write a word. The word boils over onto the white page.
So that my mother won’t leave
So that my mother won’t leave
(don’t you love your mothers?
don’t you write her poems in your sleep?
don’t be surprised by what
I do in my cold room!)
I arranged all the photo albums
of my family
by the doors,
she has nowhere else to go,
she meets everyone at the entrance
she invites them into our room
(the good one, and so it stays)
asking them to tell her
what else is new
in their past youth,
I say nothing,
I’m focused on the albums,
grandchildren run away when I leave
the albums at the door,
I don’t have anything else to fill
the void left by them
and so that my mother won’t leave
to fill that void
with other grandchildren.
(trad. Rebecca Dascălu, 2021)