Featured Poem

The Voyage with Stelică

The lips of the lamb were bleeding in the evening chill
when I saw the sun glowing above the sun
I was stepping gingerly on the fur by the foot of the bed
I had a buddy Stelică with an aura of beauty
all around him lizards slithered
dressed in lucent gold

this was called friendship and in it adolescence was rotting away
strands of wire glowed on our fingers and wire words whimpered in our mouths

we were talking calmly as crickets
when wrapped in his own space Stelică died

I was stunned as I thought of his unavoidable voyage
toward the delta where the great river piles up human ruins
it was raining beneath our supper table
the sun was hiding all alone and Stelică’s brothers were approachingpushed on
by a surge of love
through the thick fog of the end
shrouded in untanned skins they were singing into their fists
they came to free Stelică from the zinc ship and to wash his bones
but he was whole unrotten gone to metal
they kissed his breastbone at dew time
but he had the pallor of death white horses were comingand covered him with leaves
better had they pulled a small curtain over his eyelids
sufficient his death for his mother’s tears and from his cradle he’d been reading
a book of prayer
an old man washed plums and gave them to him and he stopped reading
he said to his mother, ‘suckle me for the last time
since I was a child I loved to be suckled’

now we were both walking in the birth lands and ravens were circling
pitiful adolescents we were wandering about
and all around us souls were bemoaning ‘who are you
from your childhood who are you
if you don’t even have the words to tell us who you are
who from your childhood are you’

I taught him to say
‘ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce myself, Stelică’

we were two wretched adolescents he dead from childhood on
we were living in the backwoods trees were growing on us
their branches gave us shade
we were walking together through the fog of a prenatal swamp
we were asking after a certain Bacuta but no one knew of him
Stelică was lain out well in a church on a table he was nearon floating in his zinc ship
edifying our aggressive brotherliness
at dawn some 2000 roosters were singing out their psalm
each of us took his lover by the hand we were celebrating ourgolden weddings
we felt a delicate anxiety a fecund deafness
and here we were carrying our brides on our backs to the altar
they sensed a slight shudder they sensed their wombs wetting
they sensed the moon crumbling into a thousand threads and hiding in the grass
we were chewing dirt together with them the amazon brides architects of our shadows
invented by the wind
with necklaces of lead
the gaze of each of them substantiated each of us
star reconciled with silence
through signs of darkness

the ends of the nights was slowly coming
the passing wind wrote on the waves and pushed us ashore
we slithered the best we could toward the fires that had been lit in the courtyards
many years have passed since then I had evidence of bitter agony

and I stayed there shattered
my hat fallen in the dus

o how long it has been since I saw the sun glowing above the sun

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About the translation:
Gellu Naum
Claudiu Komartin, Stephen Watts
Original language:
2013 Number 2 - Between Clay and Star

About the author

Original poet

Gellu Naum

Gellu Naum was born in 1915 and died in 2001. A true and enduring surrealist, he published more than 15 volumes of poetry. Sil...

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Claudiu Komartin

Claudiu Komartin, born in 1983, is a Romanian poet and translator. His fourth book, Cobalt, came out in May 2013. Between 2011...

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Stephen Watts


Stephen Watts

STEPHEN WATTS is a poet, translator and long-time contributor to MPT. He has recently co-translated Golan Haji’s A Tree Whose...

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