Poetry by Carmen Firan
Translated from the Romanian by Julian Semilian

Carmen Firan, born in 1958 in Craiova, Romania, is a poet, a fiction writer, and a journalist. She has published eleven books of poetry, novels, essays and short stories, as well as plays and film scripts. She has lived in New York City since 2000. Her writings appear in translation in many literary magazines and in various anthologies in France, Israel, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, Canada, U K, and the USA. Her recent books and publications in the USA include: The Farce, 2003 and In The Most Beautiful Life, ( poems with photographs by Virginia Joffe), Umbrage Editions.


Imaginary Geographies

If it hadn't been for that morning
In autumn
The incandescent breath
Of the decapitated city
The silence fallen
Like a burgundy curtain
We would have gone on betting
On the long shot
In imagined clashes
In imaginary geographies
Staring at our shadows
Stretching to the absurd
In deceitful mirrors

The strong are alone
The strong are forlorn
And so vulnerable
In the naïveté to push their dreams
Beyond where
Even they could still follow them
With their sight.
From above everything appears the same:
The dead with the dead
The living with their vanity

Festina Lente

It is always too late
Even the philosophy of the Greeks
Must be taken with a grain of salt
You can plunge sink without a trace
And your body weight
Will not raise the level of the ocean,
The weight of your soul is valued at .0003
And this only if you die forewarned
By the eternal festina lente

Things are always much simpler:
A baby's cry,
The air of a summer night,
The books from which all that remains
Is the happiness of a few synonyms,
The regret at the end
That love gives you everything
But time.


The Farce of Things

After a while
Things no longer recognize their master.

There is a revolt of objects
Too long kept under control
A conspiracy with time,
Creator of farces,
Who leaves us with the illusion
That something belongs to us definitively
With the exception of doubt.

Objects will survive us
With the haughtiness of their own destiny
Liberated from the soul
We invested them with,
Always ready to be faithful
To another master
Just as the morning after dying
The light will fall the same way
On the bed sheets with poppy flowers
Gift from your aunt
We'll need to throttle our fright
Which the new tenant
Will wrap his hunting rifle in.

Julian Semilian teaches film editing at the North Carolina School of the Arts, after a 24 year career as a film editor in Los Angeles. He is a poet, essayist, novelist and translator, focusing on Romanian avant-garde poetry. His recent novel, A Spy in Amnesia, is just off the press from Spuyten Duyvil Press in New York City.