luni, 15 ianuarie 2024

Adrian Ciocioman - Sinucidere în oglindă 2/2 (2021)

Victor Nizovtsev- Harlequin on a Swing


Ne vindem dogmelor,
le dăm ochiul pentru o promisiune
mâna pentru siguranța 
zilei de mâine 
și vrerea 
pentru promisiunea unei vreri. 


We sell out into the dogmas 
our eye for a promise 
our hand in exchange 
for tomorrow’s assurance 
and our will 
for the promise of a will. 

V. Nizovtsev - Harlequin with Lock and Key


Același eu pierdut
în păduri nesfârșite 
același ochi văzut 
în oglinzi neclintite 
și-aceleasi voci 
pierdute-n unghere, 
același plin 
căzut în goluri stinghere. 


The same ego 
wandering into endless woods 
the same eye 
reflected by unflinching mirrors 
and the same voices 
lost in nooks, 
that same fullness 
collapsing into lonely crannies. 

V.Nizovtsev - Candlelight


Într-o zi 
nu te vei mai gândi 
la toate astea, 
obosit te vei întinde 
și vei dormi. 

Cuprins de succes
sau de ratare, 
vei fi prea obosit 
să te gândești la tot ce te gândești acum. 

Îți vei găsi somnul pribeag, 
poate chiar zâmbetul, 
îți vei regăsi puterea 
de-a fi tu însuți 
neputând să mai fi altceva, 
obosit poate 
sau poate doar scârbit. 

Vei regăsi plăcerea 
de a nu face nimic, 
de a nu crede-n nimic, 
de-a nu mai rătăci 
prin beznă 
după fantome 
care te-au părăsit 

Într-o zi 
vei accepta renunțarea 
și te vei întinde 
pentru un somn lung 
și vei visa 
la tot ce faci acum. 



One day 
you will no longer be pondering 
on all of these, 
tired you will lie down and sleep. 

Engulfed by success 
or by failure, 
you shall be too tired 
to ponder on all this. 

You will get back your roving sleep, 
alongside your smile maybe, 
you will regain the strength 
of being yourself 
unable of being otherwise, 

tired maybe 
or just dismayed. 

You shall regain the pleasure 
of nothing-doing, 
of believing in nothing, 
of no longer roaming 
through the darkness 
in pursuit of ghosts 
that have abandoned you
long ago. 

One day 
you will consent to giving up 
and lie yourself down 
for a long slumber 
and you shall dream 
of all that you are doing now. 

V. Nizovtsev - Mermaid Curves


Mă pot răsfrânge,
prin atingeri moi 
peste gândurile tale. 

Mă pot închina,
cu mâna stângă,
la cuvinte 
ce zburdă 
prin așternuturi. 

Te pot privi,
până-n amurg, 
cum strigi după mine, 
cum te-ntinzi după atingeri 

Dar nu pot sustrage 
din sânul tău stâng 
să oprească 
ce-aleargă spre mine. 


I can overshadow 
 your thoughts 
by soft caresses. 
I can cross myself 
with my left hand 
against words 
sauntering through the sheets. 

I can watch you until sundown 
as you cry for me, 
as you reach out 
for minute 

But I cannot subtract 
from your left breast 
such concepts 
to stop 
the earth 
from rushing towards me.

Victor Nizovtsev - Memory


marți, 9 ianuarie 2024

Adrian Ciocioman - Sinucidere in oglinda (1/2)

Painting by Victor Nizovtsev




The flowing of our veins

was clotted maybe

or is it that your smile

did not satiate me

so now my heathen steps

are bearing me away.


The cigarette could have turned

into ashes

and your lips must have drifted

into smoke puffs…


Maybe a leaf has fallen

and turned into the ground

that I am treading on

without a sound…


So all that we are now

is just a gust of wind

muffled into the corners

of I “can” and not “weep”.


Perhaps summer is gone

and we are left with autumn

or I may be quite sleepless

Please forgive me, mistress.

Poems from the volume "Mirror Sucide" (2021, Cartea de Dupa)

Victor Nizovtsev - Alrauna



Poate că venele noastre

Nu s-au legat destul,

Poate că zâmbetul tău

Nu m-a lăsat sătul

Și pașii mei păgâni

Mă poartă departe.


Poate ca țigara

s-a transformat în scrum

și buzele tale

sunt acum doar un fum

ce pluteste departe…


Poate că frunza a căzut

Și-acum e pământ

Călcat de tapa mea

Dezlegată de cânt…


Poate că noi suntem acum

Doar o adiere de vânt

sufocată-n unghere,

 în “pot” și nu “plâng”.


Poate că vara a trecut

Și de-acum e doar toamnă

sau n-am dormit destul

te rog, iartă-mă, doamnă.

Poeme din volumul Sinucidere in oglinda (2021, Cartea de Dupa)

Victor Nizovtsev - Fall Bouquet

miercuri, 8 februarie 2023



 My paper reflects on the instantiations of the concept of Love appearing in the multifaceted volume entitled Dearly, which Margaret Atwood published in 2021, during the pandemic. While representations of romance are mostly absent in the volume that bears a rather deluding title, love takes on many forms and nuances that haunt the literary imagination, all the more befitting for the period of seclusion which the volume had to span considering its publication date. My paper presents a close reading of several poems in the volume that have love as their central topic, trying to detect in-between the lines intimations of the on-going pandemic and its toll on humanity. Additionally, Margaret Atwood’s thoughts on the themes of love, life and death will be relied upon to complement the message of the poems. Adriana Bulz

Motto: Whatever it was has happened.

                                             The battle, the sunny day, the moonlit

slipping into lust, the farewell kiss. The poem

washes ashore like flotsam. (Atwood 2020:3)


The volume under discussion poses the following challenge: whether it can be connected to the Covid-19 pandemic, given that it was published slightly before its full onset. I would argue it can and in fact that it should be, due to the undeniable reality of poetic intuition that is able to foresee what is coming upon us. We must never forget that the poet is a visionary, a maker and seer of things (from the Greek term poiesis, meaning “production” or “creation”). This is valid in Margaret Atwood’s case anyway, since she is a literary genius: Dearly presents us with the “bone face” of “the cold grey moon” - a yet-invisible, soon to be revealed, terrifying truth, which in our case may be construed as the spreading of the ominous virus. The title itself is problematic due to ellipsis: is the one word coming from “dearly beloved /missed” or does it refer to things that cost us “dearly”? Maybe all that into one and even more! From the grammarly viewpoint, the ellipsis suggests a state of dependence upon something else (since an adverb or an adjective is always depending upon its verb or noun). This subaltern ‘something’ can however be subversive since it also determines the thing on which it depends. So who is the ‘dearly’ and who is the ‘beloved’ in this story that Atwood spells through her pandemic verses? Hopefully, the close readings attempted below will elucidate this mystery of condensed narrative that exploits subliminally all the possibilities of fiction while resorting to overpowering lyricism which makes poetry a close relative of music.

As Rae Langton argues in her essay on Love and Solipsism, the Socratic imperative of knowing oneself was further enhanced by Kant’s putting it in relationship to a (dearly) beloved “other” (a true friend or lover). Thus, love would be a way out of the solipsistic tendency of the ego but it depends on the person if they really want to improve their knowledge of themselves with the help of this benevolent other or not. For instance, in Proust’s Looking for Time Lost, the departure of Albertine only serves to trigger a chemical reaction in the brain of the main character – a reaction which brings with it the epiphany of love: he misses her instantly, therefore he knows that is capable of love. But that is all, an instant illumination followed by inaction, he will not chase after her because for Proust’s alter-ego, writing is a much more alluring path to pursue self-knowledge than sexual attraction. I believe that my investigation below is in keeping with the Socratic, as well as Kantian approaches to self-knowledge, yet one may be wondering as one reads Atwood’s verse: is humanity capable of evading the prison of the self and opening up to the other (s)? I would argue that the diversity of instantiations of the concept of love illustrated in the selection of poems presented below may support the above point – and even those poems in which the feeling of love does not represent the main theme are pervaded by such a deep awareness of (human) nature that there is no doubt about the fulfillment of the Socratic/Kantian imperative at least as regards the author herself, whose own words confirm it: “We love each other, that’s true whatever it means, but we aren’t good at it; for some it’s a talent, for others only an addiction.”[1]

Ghost Cat is a poem about identification with a beloved pet which is part of one’s familiar universe and the inadvertent carrier of one’s anxiety about the specter of dementia that runs in the family, which leads to fear of being abandoned by your loved ones in times of need and estrangement from humanity:


Then up the stairs she’d come, moth-footed,



like a tiny, fuzzy steam train: Ar-woo! Ar-woo!

So witless and erased. O, who?

Clawing at the bedroom door

shut tight against her. Let me in,

Enclose me, tell me who I was.

[Atwood 2020:4]


Blizzard is a poem about the love for one’s old, sick mother; it doesn’t mention feelings, except those that are obvious from the speaker’s position at the bedside of her parent (“I put my hand on her forehead/stroke her wispy hair” – page 8) and in the final double interrogation, resonant with ambiguity (“Why can’t I let go of her?/ Why can’t I let her go?” - idem)

Coconut, on the other hand, is a poem about the love of taste, in this specific case – coconut tasted for the very first time:


First taste of sheer ambrosia!

Though mixed with ash and the shards of destruction

as Heaven always is, if you read the texts closely.

[Atwood 2020: 9]


Souvenirs is above love as a form of piecing back together, as in a dream, the imaged of a dear one. The process consists of remembering a person by combining fancy and memory with subconscious fears and desires. Ironically, these personal “memories” are presented as souvenirs that the one in your dreams presents you with when you dream of her:


This is what I’ve brought back for you

From the dreamlife, from the alien moon shore,

from the place with no clocks.

It has no color, but it has powers,

Though I don’t know what they are

nor how it unlocks.


Here, it’s yours now.

Remember me.

[Atwood 2020: 11]


In this case, the poetic persona is an active one that travels through dreamland as an explorer would in outer space and brings boons that surpass the waking wisdom. One is reminded here by the recent fantasy series on Netflix, The Sandman, in which the main hero is the Master of Dreams and a God that can coexist both in the dream realm and in the waking world. And then there is the connection one can make between watching online streaming videos rather than going out to a cinema for the movies, so that virtual reality becomes the daily nourishment for our fantasy.


In The Tin Woman Gets a Massage, Atwood confesses to avoiding any feeling in order not to get hurt. She, symbolically, lacks “a heart” just like the Tin Man lacked a brain. But, as we know only too well, a feature that one hopes to inhibit or thinks that is missing may in fact be denied or unacknowledged:


Me, it’s the heart:

that’s the part lacking.

I used to want one:

A dainty cushion of red silk

dangling from a blood ribbon,

fit for sticking pins in.

But I’ve changed my mind.

Hearts hurt.

[Atwood 2020: 12]


Obviously, the persona in the poem used to have a heart! How else would she know they hurt if not from personal experience? A seeming continuation of this idea is to be found in the poem entitled If there were no emptiness, in which the author’s persona praises the importance of distance and vacancy as prerequisites for the co-existence of entities:


It there were no emptiness there would be no life.

Think about it.

All those electrons, particles, and whatnot

crammed in next to each other like junk in an attic,

like trash in a compactor

smashed together in a flat block

so there’s nothing but plasma:

no you no me.

[Atwood 2020: 13]


Another image evoked in the poem is that of an empty motel room that nobody used for seventy years. Intuitively, the poetic imagination seems to be anticipating the vacuity created by the Covid-19 epidemic: deserted malls and parks, empty halls and streets, closed shops and stores etc. These vacuous spaces only engender an impatient craving for openness and proximity to the other(s), a desire for happening and plot:


That room has been static for me for so long:

an emptiness   a void   a silence

containing an unheard story

ready for me to unlock.

[idem: 14]


Human sexual activity is not explicitly present in the lines of these poems, except for a few hints. Instead, there is a rather consistent presentation of the animal world (mainly insects) teeming with erotic energy and from here follows the logical comparison with the human world which can be either explicit or implicit. Our attention is drawn by two successive poems entitled Cicadas and Double Entry Slug Sex. The former highlights the building tension caused by the seclusion of at least one of the partners and then the feeling of ephemerality and closeness to death which intensifies desire and renders the passion paroxistic:


This is it, time is short, death is near, but first

first, first, first

in the hot sun, searing, all day long,

in a month that has no name:

this annoying noise of love. This maddening racket.

This - admit it - song.

[Atwood 2020: 22]


The second poem is more ironic than melodramatic in describing the particular mating habits of the snails, but its ending carries a similar existential despair and anxiety:


By daylight something’s got to give.

Or someone. Some one

has got to give. A given.

That’s how we carry on.

[Atwood 2020: 24]


In Everyone Else’s Sex Life, the lyrical discourse transports us from stark disillusionment to a recreation of magic – that is, going against the grain, from the sordid realism of sexual promiscuity to the romantic enchantment that bears the name of Love. However, its final description in the guise of a circus is meant to serve as cautionary image, reminding one of the twists and turns in the Dr. Parnassus[2] movie:


So tempting, that faux-marble arch,

both fun-fair and classical –

so Greek, so Barnum,

such a beacon,

with a sign in gas-blue neon:

Love! This way! In!

[Atwood 2020: 26]


The same bitter aftertaste is to be found in the following poem, entitled Betrayal. Here, the disenchantment is equally abrupt in striking the lyrical persona who is imagined opening the door on a pair of sinful lovers (her partner and his mistress) and being shocked not so much by the confirmation of her suspicions as by an invalidation of idealized Love:


Yet, it was betrayal,

but not of you.

Only of some idea you’d had

of them, soft-lit and mystic,

with snowfall sifting down

and a mauve December sunset –

not this gauche flash,

this flesh akimbo (…)

[Atwood 2020: 27]


I would like to add a few words only about the original rhyming in this poem. There are only two instances of follow-up rhymes which effectively serve to counterpoint the main ideas: in the first stanza “bed” rhymes with “said” (“When you stumble across your lover and your friend/ naked in or on your bed/ there are things that might be said.”) and in the last one, “glare” rhymes with “stare” (“caught in the glare of your stare”). Caught in between these glimpses of a shameful act, the lyrical persona is the righteous voyeur for whom the visualization of such intimacy is akin to physical molestation. However, the simple fact of witnessing this disgraceful union makes the third party integral to the act which they will be inescapably performing as a trio in her (guilty?) mind from now on:


Goodbye is not one of them.

You’ll never close that clumsily opened door,

They’ll be stuck in that room forever.

[Atwood 2020: 27]


A pattern can be said to emerge from poems such as the above or the one entitled Princess Clothing. The author of the verses takes an almost sadomasochistic pleasure in tormenting her own lyrical persona in the sense of revealing to (what can be construed as) an innocent alter ego the fact that, no matter how pure of heart or of high social/moral ranking one may be, corruption and downfall are eventually unavoidable; hers is the natural wisdom of the cycle of seasons or the wheel of fortune, if you like, but the reader cannot escape the feeling that there is something malicious in the pure relish of lines such as these:


Silk, however,

is best for shrouds.

That’s where it comes from, silk:

those seven veils the silkworm keeps spinning,

hoping they will be butterflies.

Then they get boiled, and then unscrolled.


It’s what you hope too, right?

That beyond death, there’s flight?

After the shrouding, up you’ll rise,

Delicate wings and all. Oh, honey,

It won’t be like that.

Not quite.

[Atwood 2020: 21]


The Dear Ones is about the intensity of loss and longing after the dearly departed. The author alludes to a legend about a bunch of children that were lured underground by the playing of a magic flute. This came as a punishment for their parents who had refused to give a piper his due.  The legend says that they went underground and exited in a totally different place or time. The poem imagines, in a similar fashion, the dear ones departing from us and returning only when it is too late, when all who loved them are gone themselves. The poem reveals how not only the living suffer from the feeling of loss and despair but also the dead. Death is like an irresistible magic call or a cruel game, the ones who must die obey the rules and disappear, while the remaining ones start to resemble ghosts, inhabited as it were by an absence of song:

                                                            But the dear ones, where are they?

Where? Where? After a while

You sound like a bird.

You stop but the sorrow goes on calling.

It leaves you and flies out

Over the cold night fields,

searching and searching,

over the river,

over the emptied air.

[Atwood 2020: 41]


I want to conclude with a rather destabilizing image from the poem Zombie, which appears towards the end of the volume. In this poem, a strange similarity emerges between the act of poetry-making (conjuring up memories) and the spreading of a deadly virus, both presented as consequences of a faulty dealing with the past: <“Poetry is the past that breaks out in our hearts” like a virus, like an infection.>, says Atwood quoting Rilke. Zombie is a poem about the risks of dealing with unresolved issues that haunt and infect us when we try to resurrect them. And love itself is part of the past that comes back to us through the words of the poem:


Stay dead! Stay dead! you conjure,

you who wanted the past back.

Nothing doing. The creature

ambles through the dim forest,

a red weeping monosyllable,

a smeared word tasting of sorrow.


The hand on your shoulder. The almost hand:

Poetry, coming to claim you.

 [Atwood 2020: 57]



Similarly to this poetic haunting, the pandemic experience has taken us through an undesirable journey of self knowledge, placing upon our shoulders, from the mirror-side, an ice-cold finger which reminds us of the proximity of death or an imminent separation from humanity. Margaret Atwood’s poems were mostly written before the onset of the pandemics but they are imbued with an obvious sense of emergency and glimpses at future prospects that echo many of the states and feelings that most members of the audience have experienced during the Covid-19 crisis: anxiety, seclusion, desolation, despair (on the dark side) and exhilaration, romance, togetherness, even hope (on the bright side). These are poems that teach invaluable lessons about humanity and warn us regarding the implications of being all too human: that means a state of exposure and vulnerability to life’s many pitfalls. From her vantage position of wisdom and authority, Atwood proposes a lucid, mildly ironic and frequently grotesque vision that drags humanity bare-naked into the limelight. This sudden awakening which her verse performs on the reader’s conscience has a double effect: one is entertaining an adamic notion of the beauty and joy of creation and the other, experiencing a chilling confrontation with the specters of death and suffering. The readers of Dearly are therefore privileged, two-in-one, consumers of a complete poetic experience. And with experience comes resignation, which we must all have shared in the last two years.





Atwood, M. (2021).  Dearly. VINTAGE, London.


Langton, R.

Wolf, S. and Grau C.(Eds.). (2014). Understanding Love: Philosophy, Film, and Fiction. Oxford U.P.,+Grau+and+Smuts,+library+genesis&ots=kBU4aegNiJ&sig=zaeZ0RbOE0dMcsyMdy-K8nECZIE&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false




[1] Quote from The Grave of the Famous Poet, Dancing Girls and Other Stories.

[2] The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009), guest-starring Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp and Jude Law, among others.


vineri, 6 ianuarie 2023

Carmen Secere - Toys with Claws/Jucării cu gheare

 knotted kerchief

I speak lies in the parlor

pressure bares the mind


I shake my arms

then my feet

as I unknot

the kerchief


I tie ribbons

in my hair


mercy flows through the

mellow pains


a lullaby

inside a mutilated



the knife through the heart

I still have some

crying to do


the knife in my heart

has fallen ill


I keep burying ropes

keep digging out

the hanged


underneath my eyelid

darkness enters

carrying a cane

madwooman with a beret

the three-star hotel

has no exits


I wake up

to test my courage

in the common-sensical way


an idealist is selling my



I ingest the amphetamine

leftovers from when I suffered

of melancholy


I am a madwoman

with a beret


no one shall be dying today


different lives

I scatter bread

through different lives


I keep muffling the noises

In too big a house


I spread out the paint


I surrender with flowers

behind my ears


domestic traffic

I forgot to add sugar

to coffee


I am flicking through a Japanese magazine

the letters emerge

from an imaginary square


bonds do not endure

the space becomes narrow

for decorating


I keep up domestic traffic

around my kitchen

hanging a garland

breaking a glass


I am changing

the order


two steps away from here

they are selling candy by the kilo

hide-and seek with snakes

I reach out my hand for the planes

I put back the apple


I am putting on my new dress

the horizon is teeming

with stretcher-bearers


as if reminiscing

of phnom pehn

I am playing hide-and seek

with snakes


I am the bravest woman

of all

I climb on the stretcher

all by myself


I take an apple bite


water is woman

out of the bones of the earth

there fall out splinters


squeezed out cold

the snails are hibernating


rains come and wash

the closed mirrors


with sweetened bandages

I dress up the serpent’s bite


water is woman


I’m trying to pluck out

a splinter from my finger



I keep hearing things

finding lost items in my mind


at the gym I simplify ideas


following Descartes’

algebraic formula


I swallow lithium,

whose drops make me hug

each and every one


a clairvoyant strips down my



so happy am I

and so sad

neck-tie knot

I am folding the cuff where’s an end

to caresses

blindness keeps details apart


there’s a Riesling bottle on the shelf

for singular nights


I fasten up too tight

the knot on your tie



I am the other one

I think you know

what I mean


you remember me

when I make you laugh

it is enough for us to

go rambling about


I care not if

the ending begins


we are floating

the sky is falling


the sun is rising

upon my knee

the bee in the kerchief

a late departure

fulfills the prophecy

the birds alone keep feeding me


I receive honey

in a ritual for the living


one Monday

I cure the bee in the kerchief


the day sinks below

the beams of the roof


I unravel the hairs

of my silken tapestry

lemon trees and sangria

biting on the absence

I fall to my knees


I gather the ocean

inside bottles


at the terrace with lemon trees and sangria

I read about forgetting things


warming up rocks

washing hands


I am scared of tall


Extracts from the volume Toys with claws, Vinea Publishing, 2022



basma cu noduri

la interogatoriu spun minciuni

presiunea golește mințile


dau din mâini

apoi din picioare

dezleg basmaua

cu noduri


îmi răsucesc arnici

în păr


prin junghiuri moi

curge mila


cântec de leagăn

într-un trup mutilat

de femeie


cuțitul din inimă

mai am ceva

de plans


mi s-a îmbolnăvit cuțitul

din inimă


peste tot îngrop frânghii

peste tot dezgrop



sub pleoapa mea

întunericul intră

în baston

nebună cu bască

hotelul cu trei stele

nu are ieșiri


mă trezesc

dau probe practice

de curaj


un idealist îmi vinde



îmi iau amfetamina

rămasă de când sufeream

de melancolie


sunt o nebuna

cu bască


nu va muri nimeni


vieți diferite

risipesc pâine

prin vieți diferite


acopăr zgomote

într-o casă prea mare


întind vopseaua


mă predau cu flori

la ureche

trafic domestic

am uitat să pun zahăr

în cafea


răsfoiesc o revistă japoneză

literele ies

din pătratul imaginar


legăturile nu durează

spațiul devine strâmt

pentru amenajări


în bucătărie întrețin

un trafic domestic

agăț o ghirlandă

sparg un pahar





la doi pasi se vând

bomboane vărsate


de-a v-ați-ascunselea cu șerpi

întind mâna după avioane

pun mărul la loc


îmbrac rochia nouă

orizontul se umple

de brancardieri


ca într-o amintire

despre phnom pehn

mă joc de-a v-ați -ascunselea

cu șerpi


sunt cea mai

curajoasă femeie

urc singură

pe targă


mușc din măr

apa este femeie

din oasele pământului

sar așchii


prin presare la rece

melcii hibernează


vin ploile care spală

ferestre închise


cu pansamente dulci

șterg mușcătura de șarpe


apa este femeie

mă chinui să scot

o țeapă din deget


aud lucruri care nu sunt

în gând găsesc ce pierd


la sala de forță simplific idei


după calculul algebric

al lui Descartes


înghit litiu

picăturile mă fac să-i îmbrățișez

pe toți


o clarvăzătoare îmi dezbracă



ce fericită sunt

și cât de tristă

nodul de la cravată

îndoi manșeta unde se termină


orbirea separă detalii

păstrez o sticlă de Riesling

pentru nopți la singular


îți strâng prea tare nodul

de la cravată


sunt celalată

cred că știi

despre ce vorbesc


mă ții minte

când te fac să râzi

ne ajunge

să o luăm razna


nu-mi pasă dacă

începe sfârșitul



cerul cade


soarele răsare

pe genunchiul meu

albina din năframă

o plecare târzie

împlinește profeția

numai păsările mă hrănesc


primesc miere

dintr-un ritual

pentru cei vii


într-o luni

vindec albina din năframă


ziua scade

sub grinzile casei


îmi descurc părul

în țesătoria mea

de brocart

lâmăi și sangria


mușc din absență

cad în genunchi


adun oceanul

în sticle


la terasa cu lâmâi și sangria

citesc despre uitări


încălzesc pietre

spăl mâini


mă sperie oglinzile


Extrase din volumul Jucării cu gheare, Editura Vinea, 2022