Poems by m. duțescu

M. Duțescu (born 1979, Alexandria) is an architect and teaches at the “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urban Planning in Bucharest. He won the national debut competition of the Cartea Românească publishing house, who published his first poetry collection, and all the joy of those sad years, in 2010. The book received several literary awards, among which the “Mihai Eminescu – Opera Prima” award in 2011. In 2014 he released a new poetry collection French an advantage and simultaneously the novel Uranus Park, for which he received the “Best Young Prose Writer” national award in 2015.

The above poems belong to his debut poetry book and actually represent a teaser for Uranus Park.

Traduceri: Rareș Moldovan, Florin Buzdugan
Surse: franceza un avantaj (Pandora M, 2014), și toată bucuria acelor ani triști (Cartea Românească, 2010)

***

(translated by Rareș Moldovan)
Initially, we were on a first name basis

#1

To be honest, we got off on the wrong foot – it went
badly from the Kick-off Meeting
the simultaneous interpretation was all over the place
even though madam got a thousand and a half a month plus bonus –

Alina had miscounted the places by one
which is why Motti himself (who arrived later) had to sit
in the secretary’s chair, brought in with quite a stir
during the conference-call with the guys from Ankara.

A nervous Don Cornelius kept coming in / going out
every 2 minutes
taking his wedding ring off, spinning it
like a top, moving it to his pinkie, then back to its place.

They were noisily building a tower across the street, though
the joinery and sheet glass had cost a fortune
they’d probably had old tools & couldn’t care less
about the norms of HG 493/2006. And then

they stood up and left without any decision. We were afraid
of losing the deal, Alina
attempted a joke, while Don Cornelius, more agitated than ever,
had lined up his 4 secretaries in the hallway

(they’d come to office in sneakers…) and, Cosmo in hand,
was eyeing them up and down trying to find for each
an appropriate outfit. He didn’t want them making him look like a fool
on the 20th of August, at the Top Management Meeting.

#2

As we sat round the table and they were speaking in German
I stared at the walls – there was this sketch of a cow
and of its component parts
with a tiny legend up there on the panel.

First they brought a pot of soup. It was good
and Don Cornelius asked them to pick the meat from the bones
and wrap the bones carefully (in something thermo-
resistant) so he could take them to Bucharest home to his dogs.

After the soup they brought the meat (the one from the bones). It was good
and soft, and deliciously lean. With mashed pears,
Brussels sprouts and minced potatoes, mixed with
butter and spinach. They had brass spikes

with which they extracted the marrow
and served it to us hot
on small platters. We drank wine
Don Cornelius paid, and eventually we left

a taxi took us to the airport. And then again
airport – home – with a driver and an XC90
& 2 dogs with muzzles glued to the window
bustling happily on the back seat.

They were small (I’d imagined them larger) white and shaggy
they looked like twins but with different
collars: Burberry for one and for the other
Chanel or Dior, something golden anyway.

Between two phone calls Don Cornelius
asked me to sit in the back with them
and not tell them what we brought from Vienna.
There will be a surprise – he said – there will be a surprise!

#4

They had converse and lacoste
for the same price, just 5-10 euro difference.
It was in the autumn of two thousand and six, and on Maria
hilfer Strasse white cars, white

sneakers, white furniture shops weren’t seen yet.
I wanted a pair of white lacoste, but for some reason
I bought black converse, with a black
leather star on the side.

In the evening we gathered in a tavern
on the Prater, where they sing, drink beer and
eat pork leg. And – I’m ashamed to admit
– I could hardly recognise

Don Cornelius like that, without suit and tie.
He was casual: he wore jeans full of zippers
and those superb white lacoste I’d
so dearly wanted myself. They looked great on him.

I watched him move tirelessly around the tables
taking pictures with Billy and Dror (who’d flown in
from NY especially for us) and, surely
that’s when they must’ve taken major, important decisions together.

Then, a year later – when they changed
the armchairs and chandeliers in Fratelli and made
everything white, white – he came in a Jag
XK convertible, custom made, baby blue.

#5

Because you don’t know how long it takes to set up an offshore.
Because you’re not sure they will pay.
Because they might pay, but at the exchange rate
of the day they get the OK on the cashflow.
Because they have lawyers. And you don’t have their balls. So
neither do your lawyers
paid a max. 5000 / contract
have the balls of lawyers paid a min. 30
000 / same contract.

In the end, you go out to dinner together. Franz’s wearing an
embroidered shirt, lilac flowers on navy blue,
which you imagine cost him a lot.
He has a linen jacket, but you immediately notice the tag:

it’s Zara. It seems inexplicable, revolting. Just like his story
about his daily route to work –
in a Lamborghini Gallardo from home to the outskirts
of Vienna, where he leaves it in a parking lot

and drives a small Golf leisurely to the office.
Andreas sits next to him. From the first meeting he told you
he was gay, just like that college
classmate who told everyone on the first day of school

he was Jewish, to avoid any surprise later. Andreas
has his headset on, he’s listening to classical music. Franz orders
grilled tuna, with lemon and rucola.
A few forkfuls of the salad, doesn’t touch the rest.

He tells you about his family: he has a 12 year old girl
who loves him a lot, though she seldom sees him: she’s asleep
when he leaves and asleep when he’s back.
Franz sleeps about 4 hours a night

leaves for the office at 5, returns at midnight.
You find out his wife doesn’t work and sometimes in the morning
when he watches her sleep he thinks that no, he doesn’t know her
at all. He laughs, and invites you to clink glasses. You should

laugh too, and drink. But you’d prefer to disappear now, run far –
maybe to your folks in Braşov. Your brother’s disco
is there. There any problem is solved
with a phone call, or at the very most with some money.

#6

At check-in he ran into a friend of his – a music promoter of sorts
who’d come here to get
the contract for the George Michael concert in May.
They had a cup of coffee and decided to meet up

in the evening for dinner, but also to bring
his “friends”, which meant us. So we all went to an Indian
restaurant somewhere in South Kensington.
It was full, two storeys high, greenish with brown stucco

just like the waiter (greenish complexion, brown attire)
and probably to Don Cornelius it seemed all the same
because he harassed the life out of that poor guy
speaking to him only Romanian, sometimes dropping

a gipsy word here and there: “Haorde, for fuck’s sake,
don’t make like you don’t understand, bring me – you listening, chief
– a large coffee – d’you hear? so keres? – but mind you
NO cream, chief, got it, you’re fucked” until

Alina told him she wanted us to leave. And then he
fired her, on the spot, and hired someone else instead
(arranged it quickly over the phone) a swarthy
plump guy – Daniel Jenişor – we call him DJ.

#7

Forwarded Message –
From: Anda Brezan
To: office@dutescu.ro
Sent: Mon, October 19, 2009 10:44:43 PM
Subject: Fw: REF: that babysitter we were talking about yesterday

Definitely, if she hadn’t been that incompetent
maybe we wouldn’t have installed the online
surveillance system. But she’d fell asleep in front of the TV,
the sensors in the little mat buzzed incessantly – the baby

might just as well have died asphyxiated – no use: she slept like a log
but she asked for more and more money each month.
At first we sent DJ daily to check up on her
to control the position of the cameras, the IP and the jacks

but with time we calmed down, fired her
and proactively got involved ourselves
in the adventure of a life for three. We named the baby Teea
Cornelia – I picked the first one after Téa Leoni

(my favourite actress) and the second, of course,
is honey’s name  I want another child
although honeybun keeps saying that God has seen
everything and is now punishing him

and surely it’ll be another girl.

Please consider the environment before printing

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***

(translated by Florin Buzdugan
din și toată bucuria acelor ani triști)
and he wrote us there as well

I perfectly remember him as well
he had a good scent
austere
like a knotty dry tree

he sat next to me on the edge of the bed
we sometimes said something
he was telling stories from the war
and this is how that couple of weeks had passed
until his death

it was February – across the road
in the garden
the plum trees and the two frozen pear trees had curled up
from the neighbors
a pickup was endlessly repeating some vulgar music
my grandma’ had stopped crying
and I think that she had abandoned all hope

dad on the other hand seemed to be getting better
and in that night
after everybody had left for their homes
he took a paper
a pen
and made a list of all the people he managed to remember
those whom he knew or not
some sort of family tree
onto which he named including his 5 brothers
all dead within 3-4 years of age
and he wrote us there as well

it had darkened very–
a big tin cup filled with wine
glasses
and that completely useless diptych
sacredly kept in a drawer
and in an instant lost alongside my father
suddenly
some years later

I have never seen him cry

when we got there it was already dark
and a stuffy air – October, yes – school had started as well
but I was feeling good, I had entered that empty house
without feeling almost anything

we went down in the cellar after wine
it was the first time we were returning after my grandma’s death
we were trying to ferret after some remaining of candles
on a shelf, near the door

from within the chimney sweep we could hear dogs, chickens
and even though it had been two or maybe three months since then
the floor made of sticky clay
still kept scents of marc and horseradish

I lit a match and I didn’t see him then
with his lips tightened, a little atilt
he barely managed to say “please
wait outside, I can manage this by myself”

after almost half an hour, when he came out
he was heavily moving, he had bloodshot eyes
he held the two pails demijohn in one hand
and the Russian lock in the other

he got in the car and at one point we left
he gathered all sorts of things from the house
photographs, a Gobelin sewed on a greenish cloth
the icon with oval, pyrograved frame,

a part of these belongs to my aunt
and the rest was thrown away by mom
right after he died
that is not even a month after this event

(din franceza un avantaj)
4.

Even if you had the same conditions, it is always like this
in families with 2 kids of the same sex:
one comes out ugly, the other one gorgeous. And, most of the times,
the ugly one is a better learner because you, the gorgeous one,

prefer squandering and pussy instead of,
let’s say, the pen and book. Your mother swallows it up
and accepts you as God made you,
and after you finally finish college (with hands frees

and heavy drinking up until the eve of your diploma paper, paid for to be written
by a dumbass girl) she hires you at the Court
with a cool wage, so that you can have the impression
that from the money you got, in less than 1 year,

you made your own house. You, to be precise, made 2 rooms
over the shop in the yard of the villa in which you grew up
with separate access, as when you come home late at night
at least not wake up your folks.

it’s very hot in here
and I’m still making paper airplanes I crop templates
depending on the gauge from the magazine I
spray them with comando patterns
and I launch the on the runway

they invited me to the contest but of course
I didn’t show up

offices with a garden in the back of St. Elefterie the New
horrible rusty polished pipe installations the opera
of some greyhounds with season tickets at MTzR Ota or mnac
plaster bust vandalized capitals mulls
and balusters in the oriel
a colony of budgies held in place with cuttlebone
eggshell coriander
and flax seeds at each project

the beardy boss “The Father” in heavy boots “The Worm”
as they call him on their trip to Thasos Island
between two reverences thermos coffee and oat biscuits
drizzled with all sorts of essences

I end abruptly with hope that things there
are a little bit less precipitated
I’m lodged here under the desk
everything hurts but I hope to snap out of it
is it you on the keyboard? or are you asleep? ’cause over there it’s night time now my brother

the Chinese women

are crazy after Caucasians

and they’re not shy at all

to show it

***

The last heart attack you had when you were trying to sell the house
from Icon’s Garden. A plasterboard man raised you up from the street
and sent you to the hospital with a cab. He had no one to
call at – you didn’t manage to convince your mom

to move in with you here. You talk over the phone once
every couple of days and often many a time she’s driveling – last time
she held in 2 drugged dutch girls in the house, thinking that
finally you returned, you and your brother. You haven’t seen him

in years – you don’t want to hear anything
about Milan, neither about Prague, where your ex keeps on
living (your only) baby girl, Miss FHM Czech Republic
2001. Now, in the hospital, time is measured in milliliters

of glucose and calcium, there are no notary’s offices
and things in general are in another way. You tell me that
it would have been better if your brother had had a child. You could’ve wish for
a grandson on whose name to do the paper work for the houses in Bucharest

Odessa and Brno + the hotels in Timișoara and Belgrade.
A little boy who would enter on the ward’s window
carried by a paper airplane, to hug you
and touch you with two fingers on the cheek, or forehead.

din franceza un avantaj

4.
Chiar dacă aţi avut condiţii egale, aşa e mereu
în familiile cu 2 copii de acelaşi sex:
unul iese urât, altul frumos. Şi de cele mai multe ori
cel urâţel învaţă mai bine, fiindcă tu, cel frumos,

preferi bagabondajul şi pizda, mai degrabă decât
cum ar veni, stiloul şi cartea. Maică-ta înghite în sec
şi te acceptă aşa cum i te-a dat Dumnezeu,
iar după ce termini într-un final facultatea (cu hands free-uri

şi băute crâncene până în ajunul licenţei, scrisă contra cost
de o proastă) te angajează la Judecătorie la ea
pe un salariu mişto, să ai şi tu impresia
că din banii pe care i-ai luat, în mai puţin de 1 an,

ţi-ai făcut singur o casă. Ţi-ai făcut mai exact 2 camere
peste magazinul din curtea vilei în care-ai crescut
cu acces separat, ca atunci când vii noaptea
măcar să nu-i deranjezi pe ai tăi.

aici s-a încălzit
şi eu încă fac avioane decupez şabloane
în funcţie de gabarit din revistă le
pulverizez cu modele comando
şi le dau drumul pe pistă

m-au invitat la concurs dar bineînţeles
nu m-am dus

birouri cu grădină în spate la Sf. Elefterie Nou
teribile instalaţii ruginite date cu lac opera
câtorva ogari cu abonament MTzR Ota sau mnac
busturi de ipsos capiteluri vandalizate muluri
şi baluştri în bovindou
o colonie de peruşi ţinuţi la respect cu os de sepia
coajă de ou coriandru
şi seminţe de in la fiecare proiect

şeful bărbos „Părintele” în bocanci grei „Viermele”
cum îi spun ei în drum spre insula Thasos
între două obedienţe cafea la termos şi biscuiţi de ovăz
stropiţi cu fel de fel de esenţe

închei abrupt cu speranţa că la voi lucrurile
se precipită întru câtva mai puţin
am înţepenit aici sub pupitru
mă dor toate dar nădăjduiesc să-mi revin
tu eşti pe tastatură? sau dormi? că acolo e noapte confrate

chinezoaicele

sunt înnebunite după caucazieni

şi nu se sfiesc

deloc

s-o arate

(din și toată bucuria acelor ani triști)

ne-a scris acolo chiar şi pe noi

şi pe el mi-l aduc aminte perfect
avea un miros bun
auster
de copac uscat noduros

stătea lângă mine pe marginea patului
mai vorbeam câte ceva uneori
îmi povestea din război
şi aşa au trecut cele câteva săptămâni
până când a murit

era în luna februarie – peste drum
în grădină
prunii şi cei doi peri îngheţaţi se chirciseră
de undeva din vecini
un pickup repeta la nesfârşit o muzică vulgară
bunică-mea se oprise din plâns
şi cred că abandonase orice speranţă

tata în schimb părea că este mai bine
iar în seara aceea
după ce ne-a plecat toată lumea din casă
a luat o foaie
un pix
şi-a făcut o listă cu toţi cei pe care şi i-a mai amintit
pe care i-a cunoscut sau nu
un fel de arbore genealogic
în care i-a trecut inclusiv pe cei 5 fraţi ai săi
morţi cu toţii până-n 3-4 ani
şi ne-a scris acolo chiar şi pe noi

se întunecase de tot –
o cană mare de tablă plină cu vin
pahare
şi acel pomelnic complet inutil
păstrat cu sfinţenie într-un sertar
şi dispărut odată cu tatăl meu
brusc
câţiva ani mai târziu

nu l-am văzut niciodată plângând

când am ajuns era deja întuneric
și un aer înecăcios – octombrie, da – începuse și școala
dar mă simțeam bine, intrasem în casa aia pustie
fără să simt aproape nimic

am coborât amândoi în beci după vin
era prima oară când ne întorceam după moartea bunică-mii
încercam să dibuim niște resturi de lumânări
pe o poliță, lângă ușă

din coșare se auzeau câinii, găinile
și cu toate că trecuseră două sau poate trei luni
podeaua de pământ lipicios
încă păstra mirosuri de tescovină și hrean

am aprins un chibrit și atunci nu l-am văzut
cu buzele încordate, puțin aplecat
de-abia a putut să îmi zică „te rog
așteaptă afară, eu mă descurc singur aici”

după aproape jumătate de oră, când a ieșit
se mișca greu, avea ochii roșii
ținea damigeana de două vedre într-o mână
și lacătul ăla rusesc în cealaltă

s-a urcat în mașină și într-un târziu am plecat
strânsese tot felul de lucruri din casă
fotografii, un goblen cusut pe o pânză verzuie
icoana cu ramă pirogravată, ovală

o parte din astea au ajuns la mătușă-mea
iar restul au fost aruncate de mama
imediat după ce el a murit
adică la nici o lună de zile de la această întâmplare

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2 comments

  1. ionion@yahoo.fr

    Poet bun, caracter 0.

    Like

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