Poems by

Daniel Bănulescu

Translated from Romanian by Adam J. Sorkin and Lidia Vianu


Keep Giving All You've Got for the Last Hundred Meters

How could you not know? You knew
You knew with every single cell
How, after an hour together in line 
Sexual desire would overwhelm us
You'd turn pale I'd pant
And we'd make it only as far as the elevator

You drive me crazy
You brush your fingers over my temples and drive me crazy
As you whisper softly and open your mouth so wide
That I can see down to your intestines
Excited tense and ready
Lashing their tails
Waiting for me to take you
How could you not know? You're much more beautiful than any other woman
More fiery more profound more tender
Than any other woman in the world
Even though you're just you
Even though your breasts are the nicknames
God gave you
Back in those days when he created flesh
And you amaze me
You call out my name get close and amaze me
In the room of your body I always sit front and center when we watch TV

In the bedroom I have the bed
In the kitchen I have the three-legged Viennese trivet for coffee
But you turn pale
We pant
We make it only as far as the elevator

Starting Tomorrow We'll Meet Right in the Tree

I enjoyed a short life
Not long enough to deliver the good I promised mankind
I'd put my feet on the table in front of me - yes
I'd put them on the table in front of me with a thump - yes
I'd dish out insults brew up some trouble and start over again - yes yes yes
I failed in everything
Each time I could fail I failed
When I had a good chance to save myself I lost it
My madness reached almost as high as God's temple -
I'd have liked to build myself a harmonica
Out of the cunts of all the women I'd ever known
But I'm not a dirt-bag

"Oh if only I had a harmonica
Oh if it rained all day and I had my own harmonica
I'd sit on my butt and play my harmonica
I'd sit on the curb and play my harmonica"

Everything's right when you've got someone to clear the table for you
Everything's delightful and sweet like the powder on her nose
When her nose doesn't shine under the powder
My wallet's not your wallet
But we still could have fun together
When my foot touching yours under the table
Feels like my tongue caressing your brain
As if they were making strange music together

I was unhappy and you gave me bicarbonate of soda
I was drunk and miserable and drunk
Determined to kill myself
And you gave me a bloodletting
Nothing can be gained with blood
Everything's gained by waking at five in the morning and going to work
Everything's gained by wrestling with me in a small room
Above Brothers Kivu restaurant, while I croon to you:

"Oh if only I had a harmonica
If you were part of a harmonica and you'd be my harmonica				
I'd play it all the time
I'd go off by myself and just play my harmonica"

And now you come to me and confess you've got no more money
How come you've got no more money? Why stop having beautiful feelings for me?
Have you ever seen anyone live on love alone?
You've seen only me
I'm the only one who waited and waited for you
Hard unshaved seething
Excessively vascularized

Before long I'll reach out to the restaurant next door
I'll go by foot and on my butt and on my knees to the restaurant next door
Your crazy lips will drain everything out of me
I'll dance in your liver I'll penetrate your gall bladder
I'll turn every piece of you into one doozy of a hora for peace 
By squeezing everywhere inside hugging you and singing:

"Oh if only I had a harmonica
If you were a poor harmonica and the harmonica were mine
I'd be crazy about playing my harmonica
I couldn't live without playing my harmonica"


How much more can you give when and to whom
Maybe a lace maker 
A woman parachutist
A day sharper than a razor blade
So it can last the least time possible
One swing of the scythe
And the alehouse tables will kneel down
And never cease to pray

One single mystery the mystery of the overturned beer mugs
A miniature people or a mob of blondes
On the march to serve at your heel

Then troop as a throng into the city
A liter of hot soup filling every belly

And steaming up the shop windows to prepare
For these who come after us
To trace decisive words on them

I'll sit on a rock and wait
An old hag will approach me and say,

"My son, your women are God's fingers
With three He petted you with one more He'll pet you
But all too soon His thumb will come for you"

"Princess," I Said

"The woman in bed was like a man's greedy dog-like tongue," I told you
After I got home
And we both made sensuous french fries

Then at night with my ear to your belly
I heard how food in love
Kicks gently so gently with its little feet  

"Princess," I said
And raising my voice I wept bitterly

Don't You Have Some Acquaintance We Could Address in a Ridiculous Way?

If you go mildly crazy 
If you give up your mild look and go crazy

If the angel sits beside you on the bench
Stops trembling and begins to cry,

"Sir, I had a love affair
I descended into the leaves of that tree right there
And together with some friends I sang Greek music

Until one night (last night) I saw HER
In the company of fools"

"Sir," he said to me, "don't you happen to have some acquaintance
We could call and address in a ridiculous way,
Whom we might tell, for instance,
'I had a little notebook with covers of cherry-red
But I don't give a good goddamn' and who'd understand perfectly?"

Tomorrow I'll hurry to work with the sudden realization
That I once had a little notebook with covers of cherry-red

And that I saw HER one night (last night)
In the company of fools

As Still as a Harelip When the Hare's Dead and Gone

As still as a harelip when the hare's dead and gone
Its ears slowly giving the V of victory

Or like other beasts of the fields and woods
Caught alive and left to live in the oblivion of drawing rooms
After having learned through perfect surgeries
To recite the lesson on paralysis without hesitation

So that at the close of holiday feasts 
When exhausted women fall asleep and food looks like
Odd shapes improvised by sleeping children,
The great voluptuous fur-tasters appear
And with their hands seize the beasts' warm bodies

They begin intense lovemaking with their furs
Such as has never been experienced by any man

The Dimitrie Cantemir High School

I had a girlfriend a soul-sister
A sort of melancholy girl so to make her even more melancholy
I left her
I'd go to her house quite often in order to leave her
I'd leave so beautifully that after twenty sessions
Her belly began to bulge
Her thighs grew rounder her veins
Twisted elegantly
And I wondered if somehow I'd hit her 
"No no," she said, "keep on treating me in your beastly way
Ignore me
Never take me seriously help me by
Scraping off my bio-energetic coating
Separate me from these melodramatic bikinis
And all this underwear
I no longer gain any profit from
They make me suffer" 
Her grandmother had the really dumb inspiration
Of lodging her in her house somewhere near my high school
A couple of steps from the Piața Galați
I couldn't wait I cut classes and stole between two clusters of houses as if swimming
Across the cool rails of the rickety no. 17 tram
And never stopped until I reached the little room
Where the screwy girl made coffee and sometimes threw food for the stray dogs
On a hotplate or an electric stove
Then beside her I stripped off part of the magic pigskin I was wearing and slipped into my tiger tee-shirt,
I dragged her after me up to the bedsprings of a kind of high plain overpowered her and made out of her
A simple arithmetical function
I divided her several times
Until her name became a holy mania
Until what was left of her entire body was one lone shoe
From her melancholy two straps dangled
A new meditation posture a tossing of pajamas a gallop at dawn

Whose Name Do You Think They're Shouting in the Streets Right Now?

You explain that if I stopped caressing it
Your body would fill with blood clots
Your face would grow old your hair fall out your morning
Turn sour you'd sleep and awaken
Wet and sick
Scratching your neck under the sharp nail of the bed sheet
You ask me for help
One by one you put your arguments and your legs before me 
They have a strange taste
I stand under a window painted with a windowpane
That I could smash with my fist
I could help
I could find agreeable solutions for each problem of yours
You have a strange taste
While I caress you with a single finger possessively and abstracted
I ask, "Tell me honestly
Don't you think they're shouting my name in the streets right now?"

											Translated from Romanian by
											Adam J. Sorkin and Lidia Vianu