Dancing the Manele with Ruxandra
I’d give anything to be dancing the manele with Ruxandra
in black jeans missing several buttons, her
with a huge hat over her low, sexy voice,
over her rich dress like a Venetian courtesan’s.
Or maybe I should spring for some classy threads—to sound like
Emir, slick myself up as elegant
as a vampire.
Yeah, dance the manele in homage to the Empire, perhaps
with its nine important churches, perhaps in Iaşi
where Saint George,
who slew a lamb-size dragon, as Ruxandra wrote in one of her
keeps company with Saint Paraskeva, the protectress of our
town, shut away
inside a silver chest
from which he can emerge only after midnight. That’s how
I wish to die. Hip-hopping to the manele with Ruxandra at Saint
big rave. Down-and-dirty Orient and gracious Europe,
swirling fluff and reptilian scales
in the middle of the cathedral.
The grand organ of the Inquisition and the throbbing Moogs
of the manele,
a satyr’s ears like the panpipe player Zamfir’s and nymphet
ringlets and dimples like Shirley Temple’s.
I’d boogie on the graves of our forefathers in the north and the
on the Orthodox, the Lutherans, the Evangelicals, on Greek
Roman Catholics, on Islam and Zen, on the far-out sect of
I’d see the Light
in a pearl of spittle, I’d caress the smooth wooden
doorframe. I’d sally forth on a crusade with a sponge-cake
sword, I’d swear liege to the Faber-Castell banner.
I’d become Brumaru, both poet and doctor, I’d drink chamomile
tea and wild-strawberry
while talking poetics with Dimov in Dolhasca
at the community health center, I’d ride
the Third Europe project to the Apahida station, I’d lead the
from the village of Zece Prăjini to the toe cap of Prince Matthias’
boot in Cluj,
I’d scribble away all the livelong day
about pain, I’d take lessons
in pain, I’d give lessons
on the Quest. I’d grow three humps, not merely two,
so the princess
could ride me in a gondola engineered by nasa. I’d talk
as if about an automatic, you squeeze their trigger
and the national highway by Lake Bicaz gets braided with
yours/and mine. Very late at night, as soon as we arrived high
up in Durău,
I felt the cold pulsation of restaurant manele
rising in my arms. The air smelled of fir trees and nuptial-party
barf. The greasy
cheek, like a shark’s, oozed between the thighs
of the billiard table down to the conjunctiva. Towels
and biscuits. I started with blasphemies
and now I end up lashed between the fangs of a drakkar
on the Bistriţa River. A traffic cop on every drowned roof
under the waves of the artificial lake. Between the nine great
and the Moldavian chapel made of adobe bricks, the silver of
sneep and bream
in the Bistriţa.
The senator of snails,
dragged from his villa by the lake and made to sit down on the
that lead to my friend Teodorovici’s apartment.
The senator, about six years old,
counts snail shells
with a neighborhood kid. Going upstairs to Lucian’s, I catch
sight of a coastline of shells
over the senator’s shoulder. Across the road, on the campus
in Tîrguşor, Sociu,
stretched out on the reading room floor, with boils
the size of a cow on the banks of the foul Căcaina, charismatic
like a double John Wayne vodka at the Bohemia Bar near
without wide-open spaces, a bulibasha without a pagoda-style
house, the manele
without European polish. I gathered ashes
to fill a still delicate
fist. I tallied all the good things I’ve done
in my lifetime, and I don’t think I could have filled a baby’s
fist. I’ve seen Ruxandra only twice, at gatherings
of poets, and here I am, begging a stranger
to help me not wind up in hell.
I don’t believe in the church
and I don’t believe in suffering.
I don’t believe in me, either.
I hate the manele, and I think the craze was handed down to
by the Inquisition. A joke for the millennium. It’s just that
I saw these people made to sweat
between their teeth. Whether in Iaşi or Sibiu, Emir’s
film equipment still works on diesel fuel. I give up, what can I
do? I’m a sinner:
Ruxandra is ravishing,
even though she raises mountains between people. Huge
continents. The gypsy tribe
in Păcureţ. The anthill
at the corner of Păcurari Street. A vein of purple saturated with
diesel. A fresh, cold
melon, eight kilos, ballooning
above the roofs. Between melon and moon, few make any
Being dirty, I prefer the melon.
Hey, old man, if you don’t like it,
you too, old lady,
take a deep breath.
Even though the air reeks of altar barf.
Adam J. Sorkin with the author
DANCING THE MANELE WITH RUXANDRA