Virgil Mihaiu translated by Adam Sorkin with the author

Urban Fractions


yet another palimpsest-building
the palace on the island in the park
in the beginning the Babylonians had conceived of
an exhibition pavilion
after the volcano's eruption the frescos remained
on our ancestor's foreheads
this soil had been washed by seas evaporated ages ago
now somebody has founded an academy of belle-arte here
others have opened a school of dance
in the good times it was hard to distinguish the flurries outside
from the confetti swirls of carnival in full swing
then we arrived on the scene with our ice skates
with our records the rolling stones the yardbirds them
which we played over the rink's loudspeakers
when they sang "17 jahr blondes haar"
all our fairy princess school-friends turned into romantic heroines

interlude
there are still boats
although the swans have vanished in silence
the restaurant advertises banquets between 2 and 10 p.m.
we're sitting at a table
on which snails and pebbles flourish
saved from the hidden recesses of former seas
let the truth be trumpeted that from 3102 before the coming of the messiah
we hang on to daily existence in kaliyuga
if four epochs make a mahayuga
and one thousand mahayuga make a day of Brahma
let alone if Brahma lives one hundred years
who knows whether Brahma isn't preparing to die
right in these, our very moments?
but the game of manifestation and of non-manifestation
will continue infinitely
that's a dead certainty
we add another layer upon the palimpsest
which might become so thick
that it can no longer be contained by the world
our grain of precious dew
the drop-year
evaporation-life

once
Franz was reciting his poems on the bridge over the Somes
from nearly one hundred meters away
a tv crew was filming him through a telescopic lens
the water flowed from the mountains toward the Tisa plain
immemorial eras had streamed past until the moment of that tv program
the river continued in its course
indifferent to people's plans
behind the poet the sun went about setting
his massive silhouette was easily recognizable
his face, barely distinguishable
but isn't it better this way?
television with its own problems poets in their place on a suspended bridge
barely observable
underneath, the river which it is believed washes everything clean



Textual Harassment


the text is the text
yet the text is not the sex of the text
but the lexical pre-
text for sex



Are You the Synthetic Woman?


veiled with rustling asbestos foil you display screens on every pore
your sweat transforms this compartment into a jungle
is it you yourself?  or are you the synthetic woman created by
the early soviet movie-makers through the technique of montage?
descend to this train and bless
my voyage my solitude the memory of the waiter of days of yore
when you had been granted life in my dreams alone and he came towards me sliding
along the dining car's parquet raising aloft on his tray the horn of plenty



Video


the sequences have been cut shorter and shorter
happiness lasts only a few seconds
the death of the revered chinese general
takes less than a minute
on the tv news


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