I’ve seen New York and Paris, San Francisco and Frankfurt
I went where I never dreamed I would
I came back with a stash of pictures
and with death in my soul.
I thought that I was worth something and that my life is worth something
I had seen the eye of God gazing at me through the microscope
watching my writhing on the slide.
now I don’t believe anything anymore.
I was good for some stupid stability
for a deep forgetfulness
for a lonely vagina.
I had been rambling though places that don’t exist anymore.
oh, my world does not exist anymore!
my world does not exist anymore
my stinking world in which I was worth something.
I, Mircea Cartarescu, am nobody in the new world
there are 10 raised to the power 38 Mircea Cartarescus here
and beings 10 raised to the power 38 times better
there are better books here than anything I ever wrote
and women who can’t be arsed by it.
the pragmatic egg cracks and God is here
in his very creation, a God with nice kit
in beautiful cities and splendid autumns
and in a that kind of gentle nostalgia of South Virginia in
Dorin’s car (country music on the speakers)
I can taste the little salt I’m worth
and the salt literature is worth
because I have seen the Sears Towers
and I’ve seen Chicago, in the green mist, from above, from the Sears Tower
and on the terrace of a skyscraper two greyhounds ran
and I told Gabriela, as we drank our Coca Cola,
that my life was over
just like in Eliot’s Magi: I’ve seen the West
I have flown over Manhattan
I have seen my fey death with my own two big eyes
because this is my death.
I have gazed upon the windows with Suzuki motorcycles
and in them I saw myself, filthy, anonymous
I have rambled for hours on end through Königstrasse
amongst the skateboarding kids.
I was the black and white man in a colour photograph
Kafka amongst the Arcadians.
Poems, poooooems, philosentiames
modernisms and pub conversations about who is the greatest
rankings made on the train (returning from Onesti): which are the best
Romanian novels today
the top ten living poets
just like the Papuan people
are still spiting in the palm wine cauldron, to ferment it…
but poetry is the sign of underdevelopment
and so is looking your God in the eye
although you have never seen it…
I have seen computer games and book shops and they both seemed the same to me
I understood that philosophy is entertainment
and that mysticism is show-biz
that there are only surfaces here
but more complex than any deepness
what can I be there? a delighted man, happy bordering on madness
but his life over.
his life irrevocably fucked , like that of the worm in the apple
thinking highly of itself
until it woke up in full light, with his waste next to him
(my waste, my doleful poems)
I have seen people to whom the abortion bill
was more important than the crumbling of the Soviets
I have seen tall, blue skies, full of the lights of airplanes
and I knew the howl of the four thousand universities.
I climbed on the stairs the Eiffel Tower
And through the Plexiglas tube the Pompidou Centre
And in Iowa City I went to Fox Head…
I prated about postmodernism at Ludwigsburg
with Hassan and Bradbury and Gass and Barth and Federman
the way the convict sometimes banters with his executioner
and I recorded the swish of the hatchet
that separated my head from my body,
on a voice recorder.
I felt like crying in the luxury in Monrepos:
how is it possible? why were we born in vain?
why fight with Vadim and Funar?
why can’t we just live?
why now, when we can, finally, live
have to breath in the acrid smell of the bins?
postmodernism and pasoptism
deconstruction and tribalism
pragmatism and umbilical chords
and life, which is nonsense…
I have seen San Francisco, the blue bay with ships
and further on the ocean with green islands
The Pacific if you can imagine that!
I dipped my hands in the Pacific Ocean “thanking the lord
for my fingers”
and a demented wanderlust took hold of me.
and at Ferlighetti’s famous bookshop (it truly exists!)
you would consciously enter your own dream or a book…
I loved the streets in San Francisco
and Grant street with its bric-a-brac
and huge palm trees and the rorty girls
in the hair salons
were not looking at themselves in mirrors but in colour TVs)
and the American nights, do you still remember, Mircea T.?
near your house and Melissa’s, after
all afternoon long we had been watching Sci-Fi films, eaten tacos
and drank Old Style beer
and when we stepped outside the stars overwhelmed us
and the silent planes moving between them
and in your car, the old Ford, the air was frozen
and you took me, through the deserted city, all the way to
Mayflower Residence Hall.
and the Thanksgiving parade and the Halloween one
with the old bankers dressed as clowns and bears
and that boy of Czech origin who was interested in Faulkner
and the petite Korean in the yellow Cambus
and the melancholy of the yellow leaves in Iowa City
and us two, Gabi and I, shopping, for hours
at Target and K-mart and Goodwill
and at the fantastic Mall downtown
…I was chewing cinnamon sweets during my first morning in Washington
with my camera round my neck, in the cold of the Dupont Square
… I paid $7 to see the Zoo in New Orleans
and it was raining, and all the animal where in their dens…
…and in the taxi, having an argument with the black driver,
not understanding a word of what he was saying to me: “Hey, man…”
… wonderful meals in Chinese restaurants and Thai ones,
but the most best at Meandros, the Greeks in Soho
…The Art Institute (impressionism all around)
…The Freak Museum (amiazing: three Vermmers!)
…The National Gallery (Malevich retrospective)
a man frozen for one hundred years
opens his eyes and chooses to die.
what I have seen was to beautiful and too sad.
because he had no one there and whitlow round his fingers
and his teeth were rotten
all manner of things of no use
and all that he had ever done
had half of the consistency of wind.
a man had invented, on a faraway island
a sewing machine made of bamboo
and he though himself to be a genius, because no one near him
had made something like it. and when the Dutch came
they rewarded him for his invention
giving him an electrical one.
(thank you he said and chose to die)
I can’t find my place, I’m not form here anymore
and I cannot be from there
as for the poetry? I feel like the last of the Mohicans
ridiculous like Denver the dinosaur.
the best poetry is the bearable poetry,
nothing else: but bearable
we wrote good poetry for ten years
without knowing how bad our poetry was.
we wrote great literature, and now we understand
that it cannot go over the threshold, precisely because it is great
to great, snuffed out by its fat.
not even this poem is poetry
because only what is not poetry
can endure as poetry
what cannot be poetry.
the West opened my eyes and I found myself out of my depth.
I leave to others what my life has been so far
let others believe in what I believed
let others love what I have loved
because I cannot anymore
cannot anymore, cannot.
 Far right contemporary Romanian politicians
 Romanian historical term that denotes the ideology of the 1848 revolution.
 In English in original