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                            About the Author


Dan Dănil㠖 Poems written in English ©


THE POETS' CONGRESS


Hypotheses were assumed,
proofs were furnished,
many old treatises consulted
and after a long dispute,
they arrived at the following
unanimously accepted definition:

POETRY is
A captive breath in a crystal phial,
A comet with hyperborean trajectory,
The herbarium concealed on Mars,
The secret language of autistic children,
A fine crushed Tanagra figurine,
The colophony ghost from old violins,
A white mole enamored into the light,
The cloud that inspired da Vinci,
A teardrop in which blue ships are sinking,
A monologue in a termitarium,
An ivory sphere with runic inscriptions,
An allegory scratched on the eye's angle,
A smile to lead us in a column,
The sadness that we must carry alone,
A collection of time consuming texts,
A prophet, sharing the forgetfulness herb,
A codifying machine with smudged keys,
Breathing through a writing pen,
The orchid, that the maskman dissects,
The fakir from the cow manure castle,
An ever asking, bodyless veil,
A shaky letter under the bengali fire,
A cactus that blooms once in a century,
The dream that we always forget,
A sleepy mountain lake nymph.

The delegated took a deep breath, relieved,
signed off and moved contented
and very slowly in the direction of
railway and bus stations, airports,
taxi stands, ferryports and balloons...


REMEMBER


I, the taster of late autumns,
hardly remembering the tobacco flower
spying the shivering hoary lake –
can sometimes hear my heartbeat.

At daybreak – only the lamp
of the old man polishing lenses
and the poet's narrow window
are still tempting the fireflies;
while the rose leans forward,
between verbs, against our engraved
arms; when silence is a swan
that has turned away from dying
and the moon is drying up her wings
like a newborn butterfly. . .


A PSEUDO TREATISE ON NIGHT

I too once had the same obsessin
of writing out a treatise on night,
but her stillness made me shiver.
I would have preferred to listen to her high
laughter, as she sat, under yellow shining lamps,
or carelessly, disrobed of her whispers,
in her old armchair, slowly combing
her long, milk-smelling hair.

Parfumed letters, toffees, odds and ends
were locked-up treasures in her cupboard.
She glanced at me through black veils,
as I painfully begged her once for a word.
Then I left. She remained, as I recall,
beneath the lampshade circle...
I'll never forget, though, the pinned-through butterfly,
those whispers, her hair, and the treatise...


DREAMS


As unreal as silent,
blue-eyed cats
touching your body in the dark
when you cannot sleep,
staring at the invisible ceiling above,
just lying there and waiting – for what?

Maybe you are afraid to dream
again that old dream of yours,
when, a fair-haired child, one summer,
at the seaside, you discovered
that little dolphin in the sand
with a gaping dark wound
in its blue-grey body.

Yet, neither the dreams you'll forget
in the morning,
nor other nightmares
are as bad as that
old reality.


ON THE RADIO

At midnight, breathless, between two songs,
hearing the pink noises with the premonition
of her voice, a split second before the others.

My ears full of love, the tape recorder
a warm raptor with slow digestion
and never satisfied – the songs never ending,
like her life, a melody consumed just for my own sake.

Yet she doesn't know I'm exiled here in the dark, near
her records, her picture on the loudspeaker,
next to her favourite colour. Take five,
this could be our last date. Maybe
one day I will run off, along a record's
narrow groove, between two evergreens,
(evasion is a real thing – i.e., the dark side of the moon,
through the looking glass, and sing-sing, Alcatraz ...)

At midnight, breathless, between two songs...



LANDSCAPE

Her best one cannot be captured on a canvas,
her finest will never hang in museums –
for Autumn is by far the greatest painter:
the winds over desert or snow,
and flames are her most skilful brushes.

Such an ephemeral picture like a shimmer –
how to capture it, how to keep that haze
or on a dark mirror, or in the purple clouds
over the forest, or on the inside of your eyelids –
views of yellow rocks washed by the sand.

A thin black widow in her eighties,
my moon-eyed grandmother told us
(the circle of kindred spirits and grandchildren
almost jealous of her blindness) about
the most wonderful coloured dreams,
her long, countless, unbelievable visions,
as she grew smaller and smaller,
ordering the pictures of her youth
beneath her forehead, again and again,
smiling girlishly on her white deathbed.

The most wonderful is like memory:
there is no frame to contain that
landscape lasting but one wink or less


LIGHT AND DARK


Don't mourn the vanished sun at night
but love the moon like your first love,
the hoary beam of silver bright
and every trembling star above

let dreams and secrets yet to swell
with every breath and silent sigh
and peace to flood in every cell
like in a hallowed flight on high

don't wail for darkness in the morn,
for light is our dearest guise –
praise the new day if you are lorn
and greet the rainbow in your eyes.


WHAT REMAINS


Last night I dreamed a wonderful poem,
with every word and every letter,
but had no pen under my pillow
and by dawn it was all lost.

If I think it over, my nights were rich
in poems, fairy tales and far places,
I always had complicated visions,
especially deep in the fierce winter
which is the most versatile season.
Yet, the clock chimes midnight
and I still wait for a sign from outside,
a livid falling star or a gust of wind,
or maybe an inaudible icy finger
to paint my northern window
blooming the flower of my breath.

When I was young I often dreamed
about flying without wings – I was so easy
like a buzzing maple seed pod
lost from the branch in the thin air.
Now I forget nearly all in the morning,
and sadness stands proof for that.
I am fed up with dead reveries
and so I'm not expecting others for a time.
Those flying dreams are now so far –
I can not dream them anymore...



POEM

Let us write a love poem on the latest snow,
before the wind carries our words,
our breath to the northernmost lands.
Let us remove just a bit the cover of the field
so as to spy under the roots of the old oak tree
the rabbit's dream, as he is reliving
his fastest homerun, which left the fox
without her meal again – In his sleep, the rabbit's paws
move quickly underground, in a world that
smells fresh of the month of May
and of green fields strewn by a billion daisies.

Far away, a barking dog – another dream maybe,
and a tune about some Marion or Mary Ann.
Suddenly a rifle goes off over the forest,
over its gentle breezes and crows – Soon
the gray fog will cover our path.
We must return, Love, but mind your step,
keep off the poem's last line –


WORDS


The inborn haughty to believe
that flowers are so nice for us
and birds are singing just to please
the bored mankind. Death himself
might be persuaded to forget
and file past life – even at last
when the old tree inclines its crown
surrender for the final lightning.
The rainbow, ancient books explain,
for angels is a kind of scarf,
the clouds are signs that we ignore.

But words, the words are just for us,
the secret garden of delight,
a treasure, light to share with all
who are enchanted by the rhyme
and the vibration of the verbs.
Beneath the forehead, on the lips
the Poet's temple grows and grows.

 

LAST NIGHT


Look – the inkwell reflects my hand
and my hand becomes the word –
as dark as the night and without its own aim, too –
like the hair of my love
like this cup of bitterness

and then I can see through the pages
as through a magnifying glass,
all objects are clear to me,
the globe is transparent too
like a jellyfish – I see a sad landscape
with trembling lines and odd-shaped stones,
with dead trees on the lee-side,
as in a dream

all important dreams are about expeditions,
crimes, or love – the others do not matter,
you can forget all about them
the very moment your eyes open –
re-read only classic dreams, stream-like dreams,
verging on nightmares, long reveries,
those chimerical anthologies
along the endless gangways
of the libraries behind your forehead.
 



A  ROSE  FLOWER  AS  A  GO-BETWEEN


To him who, stealing a rose by night,
tearing it off with the connivance of some of her roots,
scanning the thorns, down the alleys, by searchlight,
surreptitiously loving, choosing between
two sins the one, which is shamefully lesser –
witness the book with clover dried, in the dark,
between its leaves, as bookmarks,
while thinking he might be able to protect
his rear – to wit, the unseen face of his heart,
with its simple equation, a horse chestnut
exploding its hard spiky rind on the pavement –
washed unexpectedly over by the melting hailstones,
having succeeded in his sleight of hand
with the rose flower, both forgiveness and
the evening being, hesitatingly, forthcoming.



AIR

I do know memory's one drawback:
a book for the blind read the other way round
until one's fingerprints have worn out.

The hummingbird only
can fall asleep in its hovering,
its breath stolen from orchids
is its nest without a beginning,
its air which we will forget
notwithstanding ...


PARIS

During the Occupation, Cioran riding a bicycle
through the Place de la Concorde – picking up his way along cars,
disabled veterans, loudspeakers pouring forth Edith Piaf
and vending stations with blue-white-pink icecream,
subtle statements of the Resistence.
 
In coffee houses customers kept a provocative silence,
a philosophical silence – drawers were running empty,
manuscripts were parachuted
onto the pastures of Switzerland,
but nobody left
the blacked-out city of the absurd,
of champagne and cognac,
and of silken stockings.
 
In the caves of the Gestapo
they resorted to the most vicious kinds of torture:
sleep deprivation or pressing people to write out
everything they knew about everything else
exhaustively – nobody suspected then,
that not far away,
in a penthouse of the Latin Quarter
such had already become a modus vivendi.



THE SAME POEM
            to Mircea Ivanescu


I am not allowed to write, not even to speak,
about Mopete, Denisa, Silver Knife Street,
since he had managed so much better – while
some described the window sill with his cats stepping over
that woman novelist's thrillers:
I missed having a room of my own like his and the evenings of those
years one had to sneak through bending over the book one was reading
yet sometimes our hands touched while searching the stalls
or the shelves in used books stores – one's handbags
consigned at the entrance with their contents easily guessed,
like someone wrapped in too tight fitting a coat,
they all of a sudden rustled and then,
all customers turned reproachfully their head in their direction –
oh those polymers troubling the comfort of our lives,
you will never ever decay.
 
Or about that alley in the public gardens which had known better days,
with gibbous benches on which you spread a newspaper
and so you could imagine a carriage and pair – you know, one of those
out of which there used to step down a tall yet frail
lady – whose fingers one would delicately grasp,
and who knew how to follow the story or the mentioned
dream – the steaming glases, whose blur
got rid of the grafitti cut into the birch trees' bark,
the silvery outline of the statue – and after a time
you returned to your books and again
close to your typewriter something smiling at you, reassuringly,
gently and discretely, something about which
people used to talk sometimes,
to write and in which you could even put your trust.



EX ORIENTE LUX
             to Mihai Posada


Some time will go by until
after a whole year of silences under the Big Dipper,
of questions asleep in space,
our eyes glint under the same stars,
when, dizzy with the same old music,
I'm hanging on your lips.
 
Meanwhile we're exchanging air in envelopes
trying to balance the atmosphere
of a continent shivering with cold –
war is the bitter whiff of a wet ember,
it is a face with dried-up tears,
it is a hand buried in one's bosom
 
and at each cross in the road there is a customs house
with its wall colapsed over the night
and from the daily fear risen again,
while the Estonians go out for a walk
through the London of the jackets

with their arm raised as saluting with a salvo,
and oldfashioned accent of small talk –
by the roaring fireside
at each table three languages are spoken
with the grandparents severely looking from their portraits.



SO WHAT?

If instead of passion or some creed
our sentence never goes beyond one line,
like the proverb written on a grain of rice
which through germination dies a slow death;

if neither stingy, nor successful,
one day an archive will swallow us whole,
seedy and sad we'll delude ourselves
of never seeing venice gone astray;

if we are deemed as ultra, pre or post
if our pen's ink stained our coat's lining
and we still hold our aims in high regard
bragging the danube's wider than the styx;

if from the dacian, scythian or illyrian
our tongue's roots are tangled with despair
if all the tristia have been written down,
we've got no lyre, nor statue by seashore;

if no one ever reads us any longer
we still do spend on books our bottom dollar,
and if we fail to find the fitting rhyme –
So what? we've got blank verse to trifle with !



A DAY’S WORTH OF LANDSCAPE PAINTING

First I drove the black nails in with a heavy heart
for their rusty taste spelled failure:
leaning against the spruce frame
I stretched, using a pair of tongs, the coarse flaxen canvas,
but finer than any shirt
worn by a crusader king kneeling at dawn.

Then I rubbed in the white of the chalk mountain
high, snow-clad, virtually unknown,
using my finger tips, as Cennini requires.
Waiting for it to dry out, I was looking for the paints,
the jar holding the brushes was among the flowerpots
and it was still in the morning.

Forgetting the dreamt about visage, unintentionally,
I drew the same tree with the vertical eyes
of some minstrel hidden behind the shell of his lute,
taking care to put somewhere, close to
the deepest shades, the purest
light, as they used to lecture us.

Then, giving up, I cover them with eyelids
of ocher, for autumn is driving against window panes
leaves, earthen hues – blue
is a rarity as it was in Dόrer’s time,
leaden whites will always poison the clouds.

And the people are far away on the hill
frightening the crickets out of the haystacks,
lost between the poppies of sleep
and the steam from the slowly-turned hay
by the horns os the snails – it is high noon.

I paint a bird diving down, unmindful even of its nest
in a nook rendered green by some indiscrete petals,
a pied stone and warm like an egg
a child is stooping down to,
a brook covered by rainbow scales
next to a house with its door flung open.

It is evening, having lost its bearings
amongst the lengthening shadows,
a butterfly is ineffectually flapping its wings,
which I touch with the last remnant of azure,
then, down below, in the right corner, the signature goes.


* * *
Drive away the butterflies of anxiety – always
few have jealously watched over the sleep
of the many,
absorbing attentively inside their lungs
the silence preceding words,
the loneliness of the interminable mornings
as stealthily guided through broken flutes
 
warming melancholy at one’s breast –
an abandoned kitten still blind,
sometimes an ancient piece of shrapnel
rusting on inside one’s heart muscle,
with one’s soul covered all over by corns
with one’s eyelids blinking after light
yet with no dream of healing
 
counting on the fingers of darkness,
wakeful, ever wakeful …
 
 
MY FRIEND
 
This poet who is well
past sixty,
who survived a war,
and the century’s comet,
and the millennium’s apocalypse,
even the heart attack of the erotomaniacs,
the sudden death during sleep,
the unavoidable choking, almost predestined,
with doctored, highly volatile spirits,
of the infallible poison of loneliness,
or the subtler one of tobacco,
the violent one of earthquakes,
flooding, revolutions, fires,
robbers, stray dogs, tramps,
cancer, conscience trappers,
the hatred of those who do not read,
the stifling love of disciples
of autograph hunters
 
this poet worn out in little personal skirmishes,
tossed from one anthology to the other,
adulated, plagiarized, imitated,
crowned as laureate, prize winner, quoted, invited,
poor like bookworm,
this restlessly anxious poet,
too exhausted for any more poetry writing,
ever closer to eternity...

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