Carmen Firan







The Old Angelic Language


in every dream I speak a different language

and in every language words have a different color

blind dreams rise from their foreheads

inflated on the purple horizon


from all I said in my lives before and to come

there remain only the flight path, the wing’s whisper

the island where I took refuge

free inside so many walls

on which I scratch neither hearts or love-words

but signs in the language I speak while asleep

a dialect of Old Angelic still useful for crossing borders


I have a vocation for happiness

a sort of unconscious facility

at making an ally of the caretaker of dreams

who’s always ready to lend me the silk cocoon

in which words sneak past customs

intimate objects I carry with me undeclared


nothing’s to be done about my golden dowry

dead languages yield just the powdery dust of stars




the banquet


at the great banquet

we’re served ahs

in Chinese porcelain and Bohemian crystal

everywhere a festive clink, an air of celebration


on the tip of our tongues we try a morsel of treason

it tastes like rabbit stuffed into the ring around a dove’s eye

on gigantic trays with dragons painted cardinal red

we’re served fear in aspic

and the guests lean back in their chairs

with shivers of pleasure and panic


there arrive new kinds of speech, adoration, lamentation

all in translation,

in thinly sliced words time whines milky in the glasses

on the table cloth vanity drips from the candle holders

in orange syllables


there is an art in knowing how to combine the letters

so as to manage your ego, your weight, your rage

how to nourish your pride with purple accents

or to choose what to taste first

either humility on little plates

or creamed patience with the sharp tang of Roquefort


we gulp, we quaff, we guzzle down words

the feast drains our minds, stuffs our souls

in a far corner history drapes a full-dress cape

over her bare shoulders




false memories


a well-hidden thought is enough

for fear to grip you to the bone

the sleepwalker stalking through others’ dreams

with white illusions and false memories—

tragedy deceived by loose reins

the imagination bought off with alternative destinies


alone with our own words

rolling like beads of ink

on glossy paper that absorbs nothing

no shelter at home they stand by the fence in line

or curl up in dusty corners

other lives with doors wide open face the wall

lost in translation

this never-ending to-and-from—

diamonds in fine gravel

with the pretense of a moment’s glitter—

perfect imitations









Carmen Firan, born in Romania, is a poet and a journalist. She has published 28 books in USA and Europe. Her recent books are Interviews and Encounters (Poetry with Nina Cassian, Sheep Meadow Press), Inferno (SD Press), Rock and Dew (Sheep Meadow Press), Words and Flesh (Talisman Publishers), The Second Life (Columbia University Press). Her writings appear in translation in many literary magazines and in various anthologies in France, Israel, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Canada, etc. She is the co-editor of Born in Utopia. An Anthology of Romanian Contemporary Poetry, Talisman Publishers; Naming the Nameless. An Anthology of American Contemporary Poetry, and Stranger at Home. Poetry with an Accent – An anthology of American Contemporary Poetry, Numina. She is a member of PEN American Center and the Poetry Society of America. She lives in New York City.





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