Issue 4 – Summer 2003 – Carmen Firan

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.