Who doesn’t know his price sells himself cheap,
60 guilders for a still stone, the waters wash
it, the Dutch from the Harlem of the east coast of the Atlantic
glide in Prier, over iron bridges, ships
leading the illusion of a happy region to an auction,
at the end of a street ready to buy everything from a homeless,
the Jewish come out of the stock exchange in Wall Street,
glasses, walking stick, hat, black overcoat,
reads the last extract, smiles,
one more good day, one more lucky day,
something in addition must be at World Trade Center too,
glances at the first page from “New York Times”
forgotten on a juke-box, looks up,
the sun disappears among towers, I lose it,
I tell the first line of this poem, poet lost
through City Hall, through Chinatown, among shops
crammed with Chinese things, smells of burnt meat, mustard,
ketch-up, deodorants, my eyes stick to
a Chinese woman’s eyes, I penetrate into them and I’m lost,
she doesn’t stop looking at me, ’help-you’,
she tells me, I nod and I say I just want to look at her,
she smiles, she’s dragged inside by a bony hand,
I pass, I arrive at Brooklyn Bridge,
I count the steps of a Negro woman dancing,
I can’t dream any longer, reality stifles me, I vanish in
her arms as in a woman’s arms dreaming,
my eyes look for the Statue of Liberty in the fog,
who doesn’t know his price sells his liberty for nothing,
you can be free and do nothing,
die among desires and nothing could stay behind you,
you get out of trance, go up 5 Av. , get lost through
Central Park, between the skating-rink and the megaliths
you remember ‘ The Planet of the Monkeys’, the carriages
pass on the drives, some Hindus full of rags show
their gold everywhere, they are happy,
you don’t run after them, your happiness is hidden in a corner
of your heart and sheds tears, you know
that you shouldn’t be sad here, in a forest surrounded by
museums, cathedrals, universities, but
her shadow lasts in your blood, only she
could have been really happy, you get out of the park,
go up the Fifth Av. , go into Guggenheim to see
Clemente’s paintings, you saw them everywhere, on cars
on the blocks, Skin, leopards, tigers, a couple
riding back to back, Alba & Francesco,
you climb winding, you see Ginsberg’s manuscripts
illustrated by Clemente, painting by Paul Klee, Matisse,
Goya, Dali, Rubens, Japanese tourists with
discreet cameras filming everything under interdiction,
freedom allows you to sell yourself expensively,
but you die cheap in your country under the plague still red,
you don’t go farther than Columbia University,
from there the Harlem begins, not because you’re afraid,
it’s still light, but there are so many beautiful things
to see that you come down on First Av. , enter then
York Av. , watching the quiet on Roosevelt Island,
the columns of cars on Queensboro bridge,
you arrive near the United Nations, the forest of flags
gives you the feeling of a Balal-ziggourat-building,
in the East district it is quiet,
only in the Financial District it isn’t, the bronze bull
expects the matadors, the tourists take photos with it,
there are sometimes queues near them,
but nobody knows what that bovine lump represents,
under its hooves the stones boil, the roar
of the street armored with money seems to disturb it,
you go round South Ferry, take the ferry, you walk round
the woman of cast iron, you don’t climb on it again,
in the daytime the skyscrapers disappear in the clear sky,
only at night the stars grow dim by the iridescences
that light in the pitch fallen from the sky,
you’ll go to the statue another time,
it’s enough for one day,
you’ve seen so little,
you stepped aside as if not to be seen, all the faces of the world
cross the island, nobody notices you,
maybe you seem scared or amazed
at how much fast and kitsch can exist without disturbing you,
you say to yourself that tomorrow will be another day,
who won’t know his price will sell his skin cheap.


Over East River, over Harlem River
Negro John looks, one day he had come here from the south,
he doesn’t know when, but he knows why,
from his building from Harlem, peeled off, with broken windows
the Bronx seems a paradise, he’ll be there soon,
not in Little Italy, not in Murffy’s gang,
a year ago they shot one another,
he knows that after 8 p. m. he can no longer go out,
Epiphany sent an e-mail from Fordham, she will
get a grant for him, she’ll keep him at her place,
in the campus it’s quiet, the Mafia people have no access,
the worst of the Negroes are isolated, only
not to snuff, to see about the dream of his parents
who brought him from the south in a little wattle basket
full of ribbons, near Rex, the Pekinese
that died crushed by the car of some weapons traffickers,
on 181 St., he remembers his reddish fur,
eyes scattered on the asphalt, he will arrive in the Bronx,
he won’t look for Lee, Arthur and Kevin,
all of them became homeless, they don’t get on badly, but his dream
is to become a lawyer in Manhattan, he has his reasons,
not long time ago he was in the East Park, he liked it,
Epiphany kissed him for a long time,
they sang, had a walk up to the terminal of 2,
at Wakefield, they lost in the park of the Dutchman
Van Cortlandt, got on 242, they arrived in Harlem again,
but tomorrow, there is no knowing exactly, he’ll pass over the river,
he’ll live in the campus, he’ll try to forget
the three of them, he has his reasons, by no means
will he ever pass through Little Italy,
he has his reasons, after 8 p. m. he’ll sit watching TV,
he’ll read, he’ll play with Epiphany, without hurting her,
gently, maybe, if he loves her, they’ll go to the pastor
to read them, to say yes, but
until then it would be good to conclude their accounts here on 148 St.,
not to believe that he ran away, that he’s a coward,
it’s not in his nature to remain in debt, ten years elapsed
since he was left lying in Amsterdam Av. , taken to hospital,
and he can’t forgive the humiliation then,
the hidden Colt would be good now, he saw out of the window
the three of them, they had grown, they were even worse,
he could knock them down with three cartridges, he practiced for a long time
in a mirror, he gets out, passes by them, if they hadn’t
insulted him, if they hadn’t called him son of a bitch, son of a slave,
he would have forgiven them, he came back,

with three shots, everything was cleared,
he passed the Harlem River on Washington bridge,
he still lives with Epiphany in a small flat

from Little Italy, where you can hide for a while,
as long as your days are counted by the Almighty,
from the Cyprus people district he looks over East River
at Astoria- Queens, it’s much more quiet there,
one day he’ll live there,
for children the schools there are a paradise,
this is what Epiphany told him when she saw him throwing
into the toilet the last little bag with hashish.


If I stay quietly in Doru’s house from Woodside,
the quiet is a kind of heap, as after the swingle
in the yard at home, everything comes to stir me up
to turn my soul into a stretched spring
from which I’m ready to fly,
all are so lively, here, where I should enjoy
freedom, splendor, get out and wander along and across
all Astoria, stare at the shop-windows from
Steinway, crawl along Broadway, hear
the Romanian women speaking incorrectly with the Mexicans who stand
against the walls to be taken to work,
go into Muncan, turn over the newspaper among
smoked meat, smell of pork scraps, sausages, feel
like home, cure my longing for the heap in the yard
full of poultry, go into the library,
turn over the first edition of ‘Spoon River Anthology’,
wander through Astoria Park, homeless full of troubles,
free like the bird in the sky where I send my thoughts
like some angels to find out something
about what’s happening at home,
my dreams tortured me some nights,
the phones have confirmed nothing, everything is O.K.,
all right, I told them, I go farther, up to Jackson Hts.,
I don’t stop, I pass by shop-windows again, here
the Mexicans display their products,
some Hindus invite you to cross their threshold where
the gold smells the gun powder, you pass by, you stop
in Flushing, the park seems a field ready for battle,
it’s not like the Botanical Garden from Bronx,
you sit in Rego Park for a while, at Liviu’s, at night you wander with him
through Forest Hills, you arrive late at Nicole’s,
near the gallon of Carlo Rossi, you forget your troubles,
until dawn you’re already in Maramures,
among friends, you fall like a log, over your body
the dreams crumble, the angels swarm,
no illusion can become a fact, if
you stay quietly , as you often do when you
leave home, quiet leaves over you a kind of dust
that the women clean the next day, they tidy you up
and take you out again in the land of the queens, to wander,
but no, no, today we have work to do, we stick stamps,
we take the tracing papers to the Chinese from Flushing,
we pass at Muncan, we pass on 30 St. to take wine,
at the church, but today the Gays are there,
let them be, they repay their sins, nobody forgives them,

Doru lives in a world from which he gets out alive,
his songs keep him alive,
Claudia makes his life tidy like a German chancellor’s office,
so, again through Queens, if you know to carry
your quiet along, you can live here
as in the Bible’s promises, only don’t lose your way,
there are so many temptations, the women open their houses,
their houses are filched, you can never know
how much of your soul remains with you,
how much remains to them, you cherish illusions,
there are days when you look only at the eyes of the shop-windows,
thousands and thousands of little bulbs light and die out,
in your memory there is room for one more life to waste.


From Chinatown over Brooklyn bridge,
walking over waters you can’t lose so easily,
only in Atlantic Av. you can confound the tubes, but not
even then can you leave the land in waters,
you can’t go farther than Conney Island, you
come back by the N in Queens and then you feel like home,
but it’s not for this that you came to New York,
the fear has here its meaning, like in an extreme sport,
the adrenaline rises, you are ready to scream,
nobody could notice you among the Negro woman in front of the clubs,
you even try to dance, more than that,
unwillingly the time spent at home comes to your mind,
among Russians you have the impression you have never left
the bank of the Prut, a whole street is full of Russian painted boards,
one night you’ll come with Liviu and Doina, Nicolae and
his girlfriend to see the ballet dancers from Bolshoi Theater
residents here without growing old,
you’ll dance near them, you’ll understand the Russians here
are in fact Jewish people escaped from the camp
to the promise land , you’ll understand and that’s all,
for the rest you feel to the full as one can live to the full,
it’s no use worrying that they brought us
the communism from Moscow, that they cut down our country,
the ballet dancers are beautiful, the Jewish women the same,
among them you move as clumsily as in the restaurants
at home, you have never been a good dancer,
you’ll remember this another day in Prospekt Park,
you won’t avoid graveyards any more, as long as
you wander without becoming aware through the green graveyard,
a paradise of those gone, the astral rhythms
are much livelier here, in this forest of crosses,
at one step from you some Scotsmen bury
their highlander with his sword, someone will take your place,
the nights belong to those returned from the skies,
whispers can be heard, the grass speaks about a conspiracy,
the flowers are motionless and tell a lament of theirs,
it is so quiet that I recite from Blaga
and I hear God striking the sky with his fingers,
I would have been late if I hadn’t been forbidden,
some guards showed me one of the ways out,
I have a lot of walk up to Queens, I get on the R and get off
in Northern Bv., I am not so far,
I even feel like home here,
Cornel is repairing alternators in his workshop from the basement,
Ion is jogging , Viki is shopping, Nicole
hasn’t come back from the Greek woman,
in Stripolli Plaza the Canadian flag is fluttering.


In a Hindu café, you are waiting for the students
from Audrey Cohen College to take their exams,
you drink a coffee, you drink another one, you get out to walk on the sea-wall
which shows you the south of the island clearly,
the Twins are so white that the disappear in the sky,
over Verrazano there is a come-and-go on two levels,
I pass by a NYPD car park, I seem a suspect,
gloomy, nobody asks me questions, the island seems
so quiet that I go up a by-street, everything looks like
somewhere in Europe, I don’t enter anywhere,
the time might have elapsed, the girls might have left
Doru alone, I go down, the gray swallows the ferryboat Manhattan,
with many storeys, chimneys from which no flags rise,
no smoke, it seems to come to St. George, nobody
is running, it’s so much quiet here,
that the fury of those from the other island seems a hell
where you can live only if you know not to die,
I bear this illusion with me, I’d like to reach
Tottenville, I was told that there
you can grow deaf because of the quiet, I make plans, from the door of the café
the Hindu smiles to me, in vain, I don’t go in,
I reach the office where everything was to an end,
two Negro women were negotiating notes, they will prepare another course,
they feel tired, they’ve worked all night,
here you can’t live if you don’t do anything to
get the day of tomorrow, the day of tomorrow can’t be better
if you don’t go to a college, you go in for it, get out
defeated, still in a shop, in some years,
you do the cleaning until dawn, then you’ll clean
in an office, in the yard of a villa,
anywhere, otherwise you have no chance, these explanations

are given to me over a glass of beer, at the end of the bridge.

Traduceri de Doina Cecilia Iordăchescu