© Ana Toma

Claudiu Komartin was born in Bucharest in 1983. His first poetry collection, Păpușarul și alte insomnii  (“The Puppeteer And Other Insomnia”, 2003, 2007) won the most prestigious awards for literary debut (among which “Mihai Eminescu” National Award). He also published Circul domestic (“Domestic Circus”, 2005), which was awarded The Romanian Academy Poetry Prize, Un anotimp în Berceni (“A Season in Berceni”, 2009, 2010) and Cobalt (“Cobalt”, 2013). He is also co-author of two plays and of several anthologies of Romanian contemporary poetry.

A selection from his work was translated in German by Georg Aescht (“Und wir werden die maschinen für uns weinen lassen”, Ed. Korrespondenzen, Vienna, 2012), in Serbian by Ljubinka Stankov Perinac (“Vrpce potaman za balu mesa”, Treći Trg, Belgrade, 2015) and in Turkish by Gökçenur Ç. (“Bir Garip Roman”, Yitik Ülke Yayınları, Istanbul, 2015). A Bulgarian version of “Cobalt” will soon appear, translated by Lora Nenkovska.

Komartin’s poetry was widely translated and he had readings and participated in international poetry festivals, book fairs and workshops in London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Graz, Oxford, Belgrade, Prague, Zagreb, Sofia, Bratislava, Brussels, Madrid, Granada, San Sebastian, Novi Sad, Sarajevo, Rijeka, Stockholm, Göteborg, Druskininkai, Kishinev, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Seoul.

Since 2010, Claudiu Komartin is editor-in-chief of “Poesis international” literary magazine and of “Max Blecher” Publishing House. He is also coordinating a popular reading club in Bucharest, “Institutul Blecher”, that reached its 144th edition in 2016. He is member of the Romanian PEN Club.

The following poems have been selected from the poetry collection, Cobalt (2013), published by Casa de Editură Max Blecher and were translated into English by Andrew K. Davidson


We Try to Convince the Madness


My brain hurls me into the walls,

your brain is a Martian drifter

combing rice sauté for the meaning of it all.

In the end, you may come nearer,


you may move in with me here, between waters.

Tossing out from our arteries their stage freight—

soon, we will scrape together

our despair with a palette knife.


We try to convince the madness

to respect a familiar pace.

This world with string of catgut

will one day sew our mouths shut.




August Images


Images conceal themselves in august.

I wake, rise from the wheelchair

and burn. I think of us,

walking side by side where nothing

could touch

the lake sparkling underground in the depths

seeds germinating in silence

at their margins where we could sleep.

The hills and forests above

the dark green iris insinuates

the caress of refracted light

on skin cooled by winds in the night.

Cranes of the day crush any thought

and the debilitation doesn’t drive nails through our spines,

it drives us considerably apart.


We won’t end up in a paradise

or a hell, my love

we’ll crawl carelessly under a rock

waiting for thunder.







And then you get to dance with ghosts in the house

Sorin Despot


The old questions have changed (“Are you okay?”, “What are we doing today?”,

“How long will you be this beautiful?”), and a wrinkle has appeared,

the slowly emptied glass, the more uncertain hand,

magnolias silenced.

The dance’s calculated ease, gestures lost,

steps, the sweetwood and kerosene

taste of conversation, the snow

melt from a tiny skeleton on the last day of winter—

they’re no more,

you remain calm, phlegmatic, undisturbed

in front of a window or next to a table

covered in pages once grazed by her hair—

and find that you are alone with ghosts,

with your heart and its weary stories (the last film you saw together

weeping at the images of whales

washing up on the shore, killing themselves)

and it’s the chokehold of a bad dream

and you can’t move

the water level continues to rise, but you smile

and it’s the line before you, the line you promised not to cross







A Spikey Creature


I walked the streets all summer

with an obsession hard to name

and with the image of a child burning baby hedgehogs

at the borders of the clearing where

we walked naked and barefoot, knowing

love is a spikey creature

that will never again







A Riddle for Monsters


To what end?… is not all but madness?




So are the times. The choir of angels is silent.

Better not to speak

of moral decay. Over there

a little stray light

in a small provincial town or

in a patch of wood threatened by

the white snouts of bulldozers. Left-overs

from yesterday’s dinner. Insects cloned a sun.


Somewhere there’s a room, with a hole in the middle

and a surly, little fellow sweating, writing and mumbling

in a language on which leans

something rust has not (yet) eaten up.

The skeleton of a giraffe. Or maybe the final

thought after

a telepathic beam from the Jiguli constellation

scrambled our brains completely.


I’ve seen those foreign objects. Some thought they would

save the world with them. They didn’t save anything.

Subtle machinery. Batteries, coils and watches

and animals wearing them around their necks

laughing at the god who sits

in an empty movie theatre

watching a spaghetti western

since the last Aquarius hung himself.





Like a Poet in a Korean Film


I sat that afternoon

with a raucous animal in my chest

on a bench at the university

and everything around me whispered that I’d failed

and the hands on my knees

told a sad story from five years ago


(I hadn’t dreamt anything in months

and though I tried to trick them,

no one believed I could be a bad boy).


evening came. little lights shown in the sky

maybe something was coming, I couldn’t care less.


next to the fountain, two chubby pigeons

roused the image of your breasts in the morning:

looking in the mirror

with your hair gently tossed and that smile

making me wish

I could be one of those nice people feeding the pigeons.


sitting on the bench, something shimmering next to me in the fountain,

people passing, embracing,


I was sad like a poet in a Korean film

thinking that you should          go

and that the clouds are so beautiful.








I want to believe you when you say

someone will come

with a perfect smile

and unfailing gestures

an insect with the soul of a wet nurse

to push me on towards tomorrow

as you lead a horse crippled by sadness

at night          to the slaughter






for Alexandra


the sun is cobalt when it rises from the body and shines

over coral

and my suntanned mind where

exotic birds come to lie is cobalt

the defiance to compromise and helplessness

was always cobalt

the night terror I wanted

to beat like an ornery animal

is cobalt

the hand I write with on an ever distant screen

is cobalt

and my elongated and contracted muscles sweating

for joy and terror when faced with love

are cobalt

and the faint and refined shiver which poetry

still stirs inside me

is cobalt

mother’s late forgiveness is cobalt

the leaf fallen on glistening water

where a friend thought he would find peace

is cobalt

the need for you was and still is


the aged innocence of poets which informed

the comforting lyrics I cannot

get out of my head

is cobalt

there are worlds with tiny skies and

there are happy worlds

where memory is hope

and the wounds are healed from the start

there are worlds where no one sells anyone

and their premonition

is cobalt

so when I speak to you again about love

don’t believe a single word

my cobalt eyes will

show you

on that day






Autumn Still Comes Without Us


You see, we can too, he told me,

we can feel safe too,

we can lose story lines without feeling ashamed,

we can smoke, sure, hearing

the city’s breath, its sounds slowed by cold

we can go out on the balcony and light fireworks


now syntax is a mist in which we cut down

random silhouettes, shapes that shatter in an instant

great galleons of smoke travelling east

and, with our neurotic chatter, attend

the watch someone left ticking on the handrail

as if we expect something irrefutable to come, something

that strong cables enter and exit shiny veins of black

thinking of the autumns we could have

blown our brains out hollering


hollering like hell, like after a job well done.





“We Try to Convince the Madness,” “August Images,” “A Riddle for Monsters,” and “Autumn Still Comes Without Us,” have previously appeared in English at “Trafika Europe,” Issue 8.