It’s Just Sadness and other poems

It’s Just Sadness and other poems
Photo: Tomas Williams
Five poems by Bucharest-based poet Anastasia Gavrilovici translated from the Romanian in English by Cătălina Stanislav, Vlad Pojoga, Maria Tănăsescu, Cristina Alexandrescu, Raluca Rîmbu and the author, as part of World Poetry/Prose Portfolio (WPP),curated by Sudeep Sen 

It’s Just Sadness

It’s not depression, it’s just sadness, the effect of the empty space in bed
where love appears and disappears like a rash, a red point
on a radar owned by color-blind sailors. It’s not depression, only
that affected disappointment when you know there’s no way to tell a mouth half open in 
the pleasure of orgasm from the one of a sleeping girl suffering from nasal polyps.
My hand that has been caressing the same man for four years and
the hand of a tennis player are the same: ugly, swollen, but firm.
Obedient. At some point I knew salutary words, I knew how to assemble
happy androids according to the instructions, how to knit safety nets for rope dancers,
asylums and multinational companies. My presence was wanted, felt, 
I passed through the sensors and they would’ve recognized me, given me water, soap and light.
Now nobody asks me for anything anymore. I respond only to emails and simple instructions
please remove your card please take your cash please take your receipt.
But it’s not depression, not even a little, not even by mistake, although I have
a camembert heart and, stuck into it, the flag of a Habsburg capital 
where I never want to return. It’s just sadness, 
just a plain demographic phenomenon that will disappear along with us. That heavy
mist children paint around the mountains at their drawing classes and
without which the landscape would be incomplete. So, relax, don’t ask yourself
what language people speak in a monkey’s dreams, light another cigarette, 
come home whenever you want. I’m here and I’m waiting, because it’s not
depression, it’s just sadness.

       translated by Cătălina Stanislav and Vlad Pojoga

The Good News

everything I know hurts and she happily flapped
her claws mother-lobster from a cartoon when I passed 
the playground and inside I felt a group of 
joyous boy scouts walking up in a line when I saw the pool of colorful balls I
remember it was someone’s birthday the tiny socks their sweet and sour smell
the toast of their heads bumping into each other and suddenly
the boy who peed himself when my dress flew up

I’m watching the perfect locks of the little girls drain pipes that some day will 
tickle men’s thighs they watch my breasts with the stereo look of a
coral snake I would like to caress them and talk to them about the hard times when
we we’ll have to give up our favorite ice cream everything our 
tear ducts fancy

for now it’s all good right this instant someone is inventing a cybernetic 
hand capable of masturbating 2.8% of the population of a medium town
someone else adjusted the hybrid teeth combining cells from human gums
with stem cells from a mouse’s teeth and this
will rid us of prostheses 

in these difficult times the best thing you can do is
massage your hands till you don’t feel them anymore the pomegranate seeds
on your back first turn into a crust and then they fall off
and that’s about all the good news I have

translated by Cătălina Stanislav and Vlad Pojoga


Being single for the rest of your life could increase the risk of 
dementia by 42% compared to being married. — The Independent

I don’t give a damn what those ever sad people say, defeated by weather in their 
fight for endorphins, I don’t believe in their beds disrespectful to European standards.
Here, where we are, in the middle of a well placed city, love
climbs down slowly, cautiously, like an alpinist whose buttocks, tightly clutched in small straps give you that sense of safety that nothing bad can happen.
Here, on the shore of a river where the noblest of ducks and
21st century’s litter float, light is a tactile malfunction which
prevents us from sensing the danger. Because we’re rather nocturnal than diurnal,
rather horizontal than vertical, rather have the lucid hallucinations of the summer 
than the restful sleep of anesthetics.
Here we are cruel enough to comfort people on their 
death bed, here helplessness rides on us like a roller coaster,
even if we are up to date with all the PowerPoints and our brains hung
in study halls and intergalactic conferences.
Look, this silvery dust spreading around your mouth
from the rumpled napkin you are wiping yourself with is
the gorgeous body of a moth.
Here, flight attendants with detachable breasts will teach you
survival tactics, but if you can’t figure it out, don’t worry,
the cotton of your clothes will be a good compost for the soils of Nicaragua.
Here you will never be homesick, you’ll easily
understand the stupidity of this false etymological intuition. Think of 
the soul as a little stove where the most 
infected instruments are sterilized. Here, where we are, you can be
single for the rest of your life.

translated by Maria Tănăsescu and the author

A Red Apple

it’s summer and you’re still next to me
said the paramecium to his girl paramecium
and their shared body lightened the aquarium a little
next to him the bed our moves our spicy breath
what exactly of all these could change the air’s structure?
two beings becoming a cytoplasmic bridge an usual day an 
occurrence like any other
an old sculptor of fat told me that in a relationship
one of the partners attaches permanently to the other
and won’t be capable of living on his own just in case
still it’s an odd behaviour not common in people
but rather in protozoa and walruses
this kind of information it’s an ambulance
that didn’t arrive in time a red apple
becomes a yellow apple becomes a brown apple becomes a
white apple the wallpaper expands the plastering cracks off
photos of dear ones fall one by one
and disappear under the debris we aren’t
the first ones to discover this
however the emotional mutations that happened in our families
along the generations make us vulnerable in the
face of change or maybe the wrong number of proteins and lipids
prevents us from killing

it’s morning and light runs over the pillows
almost like a tomography
right where our brains tell each other stories from when 
they were young making vacation plans
and laughing like two chubby cauliflowers
before going into the stove.

translated by Cristina Alexandrescu and Raluca Rîmbu

Little Things

Maybe people really do give their best shot
when they’re crushed, just like olives.
Or maybe not, what do I know, my mind is a piece of Swiss cheese
through which you can hear the music of lab rats.
I’m not allergic to anything and still I suffer for everything, it’s enough to tell me
that you don’t like marzipan and I’ll break into tears. Human warmth chaotically 
emanated, mental contents discharged randomly, morning anger (sleeplessness 
and weariness) projected onto your loved ones like an airplane
emptying its debris over a cruise ship. It’s alright, you look at the
glass of beer, you can almost see its full half, if not for the 
set of prints that will be reproduced, with a bit of luck, 
in the next 10 years by cyborg masters. There are little things around us that 
turn my heart into an origami. Emotional anarchy, indistinguishable earthquakes, the beauty of nature
falling apart on its own, cities in which you circulate harder than
through my blood and all this air I never knew
how to correctly make use of. It’s late, the children are waiting for you at home, better not
mind me. We are 80% “me and my shit”, the rest
water and calcium. Look, these constellations seem like the quirk of a contemporary
artist, but are not worth more than the delicate skeleton of a humming
bird. There’s no one left in the control tower, the photographer who had
Parkinson’s almost clicked the button, the olives are ripe, this might be
the end. If only it were to stop here.

translated by Cătălina Stanislav and Vlad Pojoga

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