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(For my American friends)

I’ve been asked what and why am I writing so much lately in my native language and what’s with all the commotion about this Adrian Paunescu nobody overseas knows much about him? I was going to try telling this story without too much emotional ballast, although it would be almost impossible to keep emotional distance from a lifetime worth of trauma via Romanian communism.

Betrayal, lies, hunger, silence, sickening and loud applauses, confusion, ignorance, censorship, complicity, physical and mental abuse, poverty, patriotic and nationalist hysteria, anti-Americanism, anti-occident, anti-Jesus, anti-church, anti-intellectuals, anti-bourgeois, secret services, walls with ears and eyes, Godless. That’s all the words I could mutter without emotions (or should I say with self-control), just cold facts about an era that still lingers back home totaling almost seven decades of full bloom communism, with the last twenty years reassembling Gogol’s Death Souls choreography – the malign difference consisting of the lingering souls who refuse to leave the corps eviscerated into the breathing air on the real Romanian landscape.

What follows is my own soul’s dissection; this way nobody would take it personal or accuse me again of not being patriotic, educated, sensitive, cultured, not knowing what real poetry looks like (now that pisses me off), only because all I’m capable of seeing in Adrian Paunescu is the epitome of a schizophrenic nation going suicidal, but not before killing its children first and oh, take this heroic gesture – writing a poetry during the knife’s trajectory toward the kids aorta, a poetry about the knife going for the kid’s aorta. Doesn’t that volcanic patriotism deserve high military honors during the hero’s funerals? I thought so too and I bet Kafka wouldn’t have argued with this prospect either. 

My perception of our common past as a nation doesn’t legitimate the absolute truth about my con-citizens or Paunescu’s persona, but it’s part of the truth, the way a nuance is part of a color spectrum. My soul nuance about this is grey, a nuance I always avoided as being a coward expression of relative values. Without necessarily believing in “black and white” approach, I do believe that we are all situated on a spherical surface looking at one centered point and every perspective validates the whole picture as a whole and as partial truths – but that doesn’t mean the center point is of relative value! Just on the opposite, it means we all have access to the absolute truth, only in scanned slices. One can keep moving around on the sphere in order to have access to a larger picture and therefore more insight. Or the temerarious can just break the cycle and escape the surface by going deeper and deeper following the ray toward the center. Or do you know what else, escaping that planet all together, forgetting all about the portioned truths, and living happily ever after in another dimension.

I wish it would be that easy to emigrate from my own sliced soul while emigrating from my own nation. However, I rather believe in pure colors, black and white, pink or brown or blue with yellow polka dots, than in this grayish plasma that weights so much on my heart as a reminder of what I never was, what I would never become, what I could have been without growing up under Paunescu et company’s sick stars or should I say black holes with smiley grimaces covering the sky day and night, day and night, day and night.

For some obscure reason, the first memory that comes to my mind while thinking of Paunescu as a Poet (which I contest, losing friends because of that), it’s linked with my debut as a published poet in my country. I was 17 years old, the winter of 1987, working at some electrical machinery during our practical skills class (wearing the mandatory uniform, bien sur), when the school dean sent someone to bring me into his office right away. I was ordered to appear in front of the district President of Communist Youth Party shortly after.

Crammed inside his office along with few other scared chickens, we listened to this handsome (yeah, it was love at first sight, as usual at that age of active imagination), well-spoken, well-dressed guy who lectured us in what he called “free association techniques”. We were required to write down everything that popped in our minds when thinking to Motherland, our Hero President, and our Beloved Communist Party. Then with all these fresh ideas, we were to write something more articulated for the anniversary number of the local “Red Flag” newspaper. Somehow, we had to first pass a test about the Communist Party’s history and credo – which I should have failed, because I had an emotional blockage and I could not remember, for the life of me, when was this darn party created.

However, I wrote a love poem, inspired by this handsome local hero. In return for my feelings, my local hero changed the poetry words as to appear that I’m in love with my country and its glorious past. I might still have the page somewhere, all crinkled in its original state – my then friend Mihaela (hello Mihaela, wherever you are) packed her good shoes inside the newspaper that hosted my poetic debut when she picked me up to go to a friend’s 18 years old big Bday party. That’s how I’ve first found out how my feelings weren’t reciprocated – by unpacking smelly shoes with a fervor worth a better cause and trying to read into my dissected soul inside those dirty black and white (and red, the newspaper title was red) slices of crippled words. 

(to be continued)