15 Oltetului street, room 305

like a big, bitter bird of the sea,
misfortune hovers over the bachelors’ dorm
at 15 Oltetului street.
here live only people like us. here
life is for drinking and death is forgotten.
and no one ever knows who over whom, who with
whom and when and for what.
sometimes only the wind brings the odor of smoke and noise of guns
from the catalaunian plains.
when you come to us, pal, don’t forget: you’ll be met at the door
by the san josé flea; he’s the guard here, he’ll fawn at
your feet, he’ll say gimme a buck, man, to take you across the river,
the door is closed, these guys leave me outside all the time, they’ve
locked me on the outside;
don’t believe him, my friend, don’t you know, yesterday the manager
came
and made him boss over the whole floor, he makes the rules now
in this room, this damn boat from under which the waters
receded and left it stranded here on the third floor.
so pay him off, pal, he’s the helmsman, he totters continuously
as in the old times when the boat skimmed the tops of the waves.
and if he swears, listen piously to him: he’s praying
when he swears, like everyone else around here,
and that’s what you’ll do soon too.

here live only people like us.
here life is for drinking and death is forgotten.
only during the rare moments of penitence and faith, at night,
do the walls grow thinner, longer, taller
like a trembling shroud clad by an unearthly body.
but nobody wakes up, and in the morning the place is once again
a wrinkled shirt from whose pockets we’re the only thing that shakes
out and nothing more,
only us and nothing more.
here live only people like us.
here life is for drinking and death is forgotten.

(The Livid Worlds, IOAN ES. POP)

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