Running is no poetry

here running

Silence is only accompanied by the distant noise of the highway, but I imagine it’s a big waterfall as I’m running up the hill and then down again.

Thinking back on my day, I wonder… If we were to measure the freedom one has, what would we measure it by? How about by the frequency with which one laughs?

Not a soul except me, running along these narrow streets lined with well-attended houses. This space I feel outside is also breathing behind those doors, behind the lit windows and I suspect even inside those rib cages dressed up by perfectly shaped muscles.

Here running is no poetry. It is as natural as showering or brushing your teeth. Add to that an increased amount of dignity and grace. And light. Everywhere. Even hanging in trees.




Nuca și spărgătorul de nuci

Un spărgător de nuci s-a întâlnit într-o zi cu o nucă.

– Unde mergi, spărgătorule? Te căutam… M-am rostogolit peste tot până te-am găsit.
– Mă căutai pe mine?! întrebă surprins spărgătorul.
– Chiar așa. Vreau să știu cum mi-e miezul. Nimeni nu m-a văzut vreodată pe dinăuntru. Coaja mea e groasă și tare. Înăuntru n-a pătruns nicio rază de lumină de pe vremea când eram floare.
– Credeam că nucilor le e teamă de mine, răspunse spărgătorul și mai surprins.
– Mie nu mi-e teamă decât că miezul meu s-ar putea să nu fie bun. Sau că s-ar putea să se usuce în interiorul cojii fără ca cineva să-l descopere vreodată.

Și așa s-au împrietenit spărgătorul de nuci și nuca. El și-a desfăcut brațele și ea s-a cuibărit în îmbrățișarea spărgătorului, care a strâns-o-ntre brațele lui puternice. Ușor, coaja nucii s-a crăpat cu un oftat și înăuntru a pătruns lumina caldă pentru prima dată după mult, mult timp, topind umbra și dezvăluind miezul fraged, acoperit de o pieliță cafenie și mătăsoasă.

Toate temerile nucii se risipiră odată cu coaja sfărâmată, iar miezul zâmbea acum dezgolit, mângâiat de razele soarelui. Spărgătorul îl privea cu uimire, continuând să cuprindă nuca sfărâmată între brațele lui, cu grijă s-o țină toată la un loc și simțind pentru prima dată că are un rost de care poate fi mândru.

PS Another one of my writings from the creative writing workshop I taught this week. See related posts: Zborul and My summer school creative writing workshop.



Când eram pasăre
Mă-nțepau rădăcinile penelor
În piele, căutând albul oaselor
Dacă picioarele-mi zăboveau
În țărână prea mult.
Drumurile mele toate
Începeau cu V și cu U.
Copacii, hanuri de popas
Când aripile osteneau.
Când eram pasăre
Mă purta vântul în îmbrățișare,
Iar inima mea vuia, nu bătea.
Când eram pasăre
Mi-era dor de pământ.

Wrote it during My summer school creative writing workshop with kids.

Mad about you


I touch my thighs
my belly
I see the lines of my body drawn on the asphalt
I feel them vibrating
I mold them like clay
If I press here, it gives in
stubornness is a thick line
ashes to ashes, dust to dust
an evening run after a day only on liquids
hunger is such a deceitful word
fear hides behind the “hun”
loneliness behind the “ger”
midnight yoga
as a late night snack

wars are always lost
I don’t fight my inner demons
I love them instead
I ask them their names
to thank them
and release them
I try to do the same with people
demons find a shortcut to my compassion button

anything must be possible
when it is made so

PS Took the picture in Hotel Traian, Brăila, 2009. Natacha Merritt style.

An unusual weekend


On Friday I was on the road for ten hours. The coach driver, a strong and beautiful woman in her forties, offered me candies and gave me a discount on the ticket. We caught a bad accident  and then heavy rain on the way and the coach was delayed for three hours. Never before in my life had I seen such a badly damaged lorry cabin. I doubt that the driver was taken out of it in one piece… A friend was then waiting for me at the end of the road and picked me up by car. He spent three hours waiting for me. And then carried my luggage to his car. How can I ever feel lonely? I am never alone. Never.

Then rain and cold and fog and moisture conquering everything for two days in this summer camp. Everything. Still, my heart was getting lighter and lighter. Saturday night came with singing and guitar playing and a lot of laughter and it felt so good to be with warm-hearted people and feel at home, among your own kind. And the next day, when I left the camp, a friend looked at me and said: “You are shining. And you look so kissable now.” “Thanks”, I said. “I’ve always been so successful with women.” And we laughed and hugged and said goodbye until next time.

On Sunday evening I was back to Bucharest, after a journey with three chain accidents on the highway and a speed ticket. Oh, and a fox crossed our road in a village, in plain daylight. As I was waiting for a bus to take me home, my phone rang. My good friend in Istanbul updated me on the news. I hadn’t heard anything.

“I was in the street when everything started. Suddenly, the army started shooting people. I saw about twenty people dying in front of me. For nothing… They were raising their arms in front of the military and saying: Shoot us, shoot us! And they shot them. And I remembered your words: You are a survivor. And so I got out of there.”

He is 23. Left Syria because of the war. Went to Lebanon and there was fighting there, too. Now Istanbul.

On Wednesday last week another friend gave me this book called “Istanbul Istanbul”, by Burhan Sonmez.

What is it with this life?

Now, in the light of this seemingly pure insanity, I am feeling so grateful for everything. For every breath. For every beautiful memory. For every kiss, every look that has ever felt like ‘yes, I recognize you from back home, I know who you are’. And for every hardship. Everything, every grain of sand, every smile, every step, every journey, every love story and every separation, everything has made me who I am today. And I am so in love with life. I am drunk on it. And I bow to the forces that bring us together every time. And I let go.

lady lazarus


three hookers
suspended on their platforms
each wearing something red
complaining about low pay
waving sumptuous handheld fans
of long days between stone walls
in crinoline and lace

I still believe it takes such
can I call it generosity?
death by stoning
no exclamation mark as the words stop in mid throat
shall I call it availability?
a reminder
of long forgotten fears between two legs

I was dead
bearing the story of resignation
life took me by the hand
and invited me to dance
I said no
she insisted

PS I took the photo at a Rodin exhibition in Stockholm in January.

A drop of cold water falls on my right shoulder

It lingers a bit and then slides like melting ice cream
Before the night quickly licks it off my skin

The moon is half full
Armies of crickets are singing their anthem
Bracing themselves for another long night

I run past these tables outside a restaurant
“At the seaside I never go swimming, actually”
A girl’s voice says in English
And I remember her holding me
The sea
As I tasted her salt from my lips
I could never surrender to anyone like that
Not risky enough
My life at stake, all bravery awakens

What is it about this body that’s so important?
I see its shadow in front of me on the asphalt
What is it about it that’s so repulsive,
So desirable, so fragile, so strong
And yet so utterly honest
To the point of betrayal?

This dark stain on my chest
I touch it and it’s wet
How can one sweat just on the left?
Right where it hurts
I measure the concentration of salt
With the tip of my tongue
I think I’d better light some of that incense tonight






An island planted in the entrails of the city
Shipwrecked on its shore
I find shelter
Succumbed to a will that is finally my own

A tall fire starts in the darkest corner
And there I call you

I love you

In all the languages I have ever spoken to you

In all the languages we will ever speak



I promised to come

Here I am


Let go

I am free and you are free

I say it loud and clear


In all the languages that bound me to you

In all the languages that set us free

For all lifetimes to come

An eternal season of honeysuckle and crickets

A rotting carcass
Roses behind wrought iron fences
My parted lips as I breathe through my open mouth
Become numb and cold
Curiously cold
As the middle of my upper lip starts pulsating
Perhaps it rembers being sucked into a kiss
I then sink into my rib cage
A birdcage for my heart
My lungs two beehives keeping her warm
Will she ever break free?
I remember many, many years ago
A foot (I later had to love)
Stepped on it so hard
My ribs broke like a bundle of dry twigs
Under a thin layer of leaves on a forest path
There came a brief moment of stillness
Before something slipped out
Hovered above for a while
And flew off
Was it me?