Poems by

Radu Andriescu


Dancing the Manele with Ruxandra


I’d give anything to be dancing the manele with Ruxandra

Cesereanu. Me

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

in Cluj

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

Catholics or

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

brass band

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

about dreams

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


frail, Bonanza

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.

It’s sweet,

it’s red,

it’s good.

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.


Translated by

Adam J. Sorkin with the author




» anul XIX, 2008, nr. 9 (220)