Cosmin Perţa is a Romanian poet and novelist. Born in 1982 in Vişeu de Sus, Maramureş county, he graduated from „Babeş-Bolyai” University of Cluj-Napoca, the Faculty of Letters. He continued his studies of literature at the University of Bucharest,  where he received his MA in contemporary literature and his PhD with a thesis on East-European fantastic literature. He published five poetry books and five novels. In 2014 he was awarded the title Best Young Romanian Prose Writer. Fragments from his works are published in 13 languages. There are over 250 reviews on his writing in  Romanian and international cultural joournals.


The Gravel’s Coolness as You Pass By

Poems translated by Margento

The First Lullaby for My Generation



Cry, cry on, for I’ll buy you a plastic heart, a

clean silver bypass, a miniature X-ray machine,

a miniature cobalt radiotherapy machine, a fresh new scalpel.


Cry, cry on, I’ve stashed away piles

of wooden pills, a dolphin, an elephant’s tail, three partridges,

and a diamond goose for you in the house’s foundation.


Cry, cry on, I’ll give you a gas mask, a Molotov cocktail,

a snowflake-spangled tiger’s hide patched with sable fur, a cut off finger, a machine gun, some

greasy fruit, some threadbare pajamas, an onion, a monkey’s paw, a rhinoceros’s foot,


a tiny Soutine painted on an earring, a first misfortune: precisely.

Cry, cry on, I’ll borrow money from everyone and buy you

a nice camel-hair hairpiece, a kidney, a liver, three surgeons who


will remove your colon polyps.

Cry, cry on, you’ll get cancer, you’ll eat. cyanide. you’ll drink

cyanide. you’ll breathe in. cyanide. you’ll throw up. cyanide. you’ll buy theater,


rodeo, ballet tickets.  We’ re gonna go to the opera.  You’re gonna croak, your heart’s

gonna crack.

Cry, cry on, one million coffins will fit perfectly in 162 paperback pages,


one million dead people fit perfectly in my brain, I’m gonna buy them all,

and will buy it too for you.

Cry, cry on, I’ll buy a president, a parliament, a school, some pavement


for you to step on, I’ll buy you sockets for walking on the pavement,

for going to the doctor, for making your feet stink,

I’ll buy you a meadow for you to breed wild airplanes up there,


to tame death, cry, cry on, I’ll buy death for you

to mount, to ride, to name; call her



This is Superman, this is the word delight, upright

and perpendicular.  This is history, this is memory, this is forgery

and use of forgery.


Those ones are us, those ones are them, those ones are those who kill.

That’s France, that’s the Mediterranean over there, that’s England, that’s Germany,

The U.S. and Russia, China and North Korea.


All these are linked, tagged, interconnected, we’re talking here irascibility.

Look closely and here’s what you’ll spot behind each of them: death.

This is a boiled egg, a glove, some amber, a dead language,


a chemistry textbook, the tendon, the collarbone, the press, the free press,

the occupied press, the meat press, the wine press, the press.  Look closely

and here’s what you’ll spot: death.


Those are the graveyards, those are the ones lamenting the graveyards, those are

the ones occupying the graveyards, those are the ones liberating the graveyards.  Hold on!

Stand still!  I’m resting my hand on your shoulder.  Look closely: M



It’s almost every day

that I read a piece of news about Apocalypse,

about earthquakes, hurricanes, wars, the economic downturn, child abuse…


Yet all this charade

all this swarming world

spewing its vileness and hatred into my mind


accomplishes nothing else but convinces me even more

that to eat an apple and rise from the dead

are in fact pretty much the same thing.



At once with the heart, the enlightenment.

It’s getting more and more worrisome for me

not to be able to give birth to language anymore.  Can’t make myself understood anymore


and it’s not like I really really care about it either.  I could easily forget about it,

it’s just that I’ll be stuck with a fear of world destruction

that gets the better of me.


Ever more tiring and terrifying,

the ascent.  The demon’s evolution in literature and the world.

The demon is now everywhere.


The demon doesn’t mislead us about his nonexistence anymore,

the devil needs marketing, PR, visibility,

likes on Facebook.


The demon.  I won’t say that word again.

We say: penumbra.  In the penumbra there is no good and evil,

in the penumbra we all live in a virtual world.


In the penumbra we play Counter-Strike and we’re happy.

We kill people in the penumbra and that’s not enough.

White meadow.


In the penumbra nothing is real, in the penumbra

the knife won’t cut, the blood is nothing else but pixels.

We play in the penumbra, throw orgies there.  Secretly?


It’s bad in the penumbra, I’m scared in the penumbra,

I don’t understand you in the penumbra, I don’t know you,

I don’t recognize myself.  I’m the same.  Numbed.  Dead.


When the penumbra spreads its chilly eagle wings

who will decide who’s got to stay and who’s got to go?

Who will get scared by the penumbra’s metallic touch?


I’m already falling, which one’s the true reality?

I’ve already gone wrong and will continue to do so

until everything I see dries out.


You don’t understand, in the penumbra

we’re punished for whatever is moral about us.

We have no beauty, liberty, or honor,


vanity is some kind of feces naturally flowing down our throats,

we live off of surrogates, those cerebrally absorbed, virtual,

interstitial, pestilential, cheap, and colossal drugs.


Happiness is for real, it is possible and it can surpass

our animal nature.  The world has to be abandoned

in order to be gained.


We all take the weird path, we all write dead style

while still alive.  Mummies.  Meanness, selfishness, self-centeredness,

decadence, the avant-gardes.


The absurd is the new rule in society.  The absurd does not

bring about ruptures anymore, does not break things up, does not

frighten or sever, reality does not dissociate it,


the absurd is appealing, it’s cool, we treat the absurd with

tolerance and irony.  We flirt with it as if it were

a woman, a likable and giddy little floozy.


The absurd overwhelms us, ingurgitates us, chews us up, crushes us,

Normalcy is a word with no signified,

we’ve gone haywire.  Everything is uncertain.


We are sophisticated, ironic, superior,

we are too post-anything for anything ethical, for life in general.

Nothing will please us, nothing is good enough, we are a vegetal carpet,


rotting and stinking.  Language broke.  Crash!

I hate what I can’t understand.

Non-vision.  The absence of darkness is the void.


Non-vision.  The absence of darkness is the void.





Dear Lord: It’s Time.  The World Has Gone On for too Long

The Second Lullaby for My Generation



Sleep, sleep on,

I’ve never been able to get used to the world,

to human skin, or to anything that can be explained.


Sleep, sleep on,

every day I think everything through with precision: Now

I make myself.  I slowly caress the truth with zaps of skin electricity.


Sleep, sleep on,

dark times, no memories outside,

the tenacious insect gnawing at my brains.  Warm and cozy in the Cosmos.



Kicked the door.

Kicked the door as hard as I could.  Put my ear

to the door, sensed your pulse, heard the injustice, heard your blood gushin’ out.



Fog, blue fog,

sink my brain in your immensity,

let me dig a giant grave in your boundlessness


together with the snakes, the lions, and the elephants

my friends in the grave inside of you,

fog, blue fog, I will dump them


and they will drink your blue wine, fog, blue fog,

they will dance in your immensity

while my sunken brain will rejoice in your boundlessness.



Then corpses will fall from the sky.

The sun will be covered by dry corpses.

The rabble will pick up corpses for the days to come.


In the penumbra, like a starving beast, history

digs a million cement graves.

Who’s going to rise from the dead, you’d wonder, who’s going to rise from under the cement slabs?



Nothing is left of this flesh

that’s of any use to you.

There is joy in any kind of destruction,


in any kind of ending.  There will be a way,

the doors will open, and we will run

into the happy and the merrymakers, but we’ll come through,


we’ll read, get cultivated, experienced,

we’ll do good, we’ll make it somehow.

Each with their own chainsaw.



More than enough, my love, non-vision, will be said now and then.

I wanted things, got them, got to know them, my non-vision love,

We drank together my own blood until we had our fill.



Everything shrinks down while waiting for that little breath.

It’s going down.

In China, in Belgium, in Afghanistan, there are people on the road.



Even if you fall down

I’ll lie down there by your body.



I’ll write you a letter while lying by your side, in the cool,

a love letter.

Nobody thinks about your body


the way I do.  I freeze with joy

at the mere thought of it.  The cool.

Your body well buried, wrapped up in layers;


I play chess, backgammon.  Nobody

thinks about your body the way

I do, fragrant in the cool.



Came to mind: in a station of the metro

hundreds of faces

embittered, hostile, callous.  Period.



But there’s more to it.

I got something for you: precisely.

A black rain in a town


A greenish wind circling the buildings.

Nothing desolate so far.

When they found his body in a bin


the bell overshadowed precisely her window.

Cold metal in the veins.

In the nose, thousands of swarming spiders.


There is a light in my mind, getting directly to the brain.

When I woke up

rain falling on the pavement.  No city.  Electric field.



The heart doesn’t hurt.  I’m faking.

The brain doesn’t hurt.  I’m faking.

Estrangement from God doesn’t hurt.  I’m faking.


When I say I’m afraid of my sex organ,

and that I’d cut it off,

I’m telling the truth.



“I shall sit here, serving tea to friends”—

Thomas Stearns




So I’m lying by your

butchered body.

Holding your hand really tight







Don’t lose your ground (war)

don’t let the light ever die.

In your palm (music)


grew such flesh,

in your dead, tender, beautiful palm.

The good ones play soccer


on an endless field deep in the blue

fog.  The dying ones and those who kill

are your heart and soul,


don’t lose your ground (music)

don’t let the light ever die.

Hold tightly (war), forget, forgive, and never mention.



The Return to One’s Own Body: A Necessity

The Third Lullaby to My Generation


Sleep on, you are in a box.

Cry on, do not harm the others.

Sleep on, you are in a box.


Cry on, do not punish the other.

Sleep on, you are in a box.

Cry on, do not harm the other, do not blame.


Sleep on, you can feel the way fury makes

you cry on, while your hand gains heat,

sleep on, which causes it to pass


cry on, through the stomach,

sleep on, through the bed you hatefully rest in,

cry on, you are in a box,


sleep on, do not punish the other,

cry on, do not harm the other, do not blame

forever and ever.



Be thankful for the understanding,

this is a good evening,

you are drawing angels in the stairwell.


All around you political charades,

you meticulously set up the charade of your own life in your head,

and you can’t escape it.


You kill time—is there any time at all in Romania?

can’t shake off habits,

for 13, 15 years now, been dying, been killing.


A disquiet

spreading throughout

my body—this suffocation.



The transport of a cockroach nymph

from the living room to the chute of garb… age of ages.



The Wind Has Torn Down Old Walls for Years

The Fourth Lullaby for My Generation


Here I am, 29 years after, in the middle of the journey.

29 years of waiting, the first 29 years

before World War III


or any other apocalypse.

We try to find a new language,

post-cybernetic, nanotechnical,


a correct language of depersonalization, dehumanization,

of tension in the air, lack of continuity, lack of privacy,

solitude in the multitude, electro-mutilation, electro-authistication.


Beware, we’re entering the realm of the inarticulate.  Failure.

Where we don’t have to express anything anymore.  Failure.

Everything is known, imprecise, and pristine all over again.



The perfectly explainable system of inexplicability

is an equally perfect




Just a shadow of our lives over the others’ lives.

A breath blown over a photo covered in dust.

We tingle with fatigue


and can’t defend ourselves.

I forget everything.

A great love passes me by within inches.



There was a time when everything was perfect.

When we had no conscience, no regret,

when we didn’t think about a thing.


Meanwhile I

don’t even give

a damn.



Somewhere in the already mentioned dust in your room

a beast with the body of a crocodile and the head of a rhinoceros

lies in wait for me


crawling slowly on the tiles, the scattered notes, the rug, the floor

swinging its horn ferociously, and tenderly

meanwhile big black birds flock at your window in droves.



You’ve got to go alone

with a light—and rose-tinted—heart

arm in arm with your dead wife.


Straight ahead, straight a-dead, back into the past,

one past life to the next, aimlessly,

arm in arm with your wife Death.



I was lying in the snow pondering.

Not pondering anything.

Rolling in the snow.


Ponderous, more ponderous than the year before.

Used to have a mattress once in an empty room.

So silly to lose even what we really own.



All there is

left of this dreadful sun

is ashes.


We Hit the Rock Bottom of Delirium

The last lullaby for my generation


You should have stuck around those familiar friendly places,

here you’re stalked at every step by the pale madness

while the mind’s pattern is of no avail.


You should have stuck around the familiar friendly neighborhoods,

here everything is formidably dangerous,

everything can kill you in no time.


You should have stuck around,

enjoyed your own average world,

here nothing is average and nothing is of avail, except for death.



We will start a committee, we will be thankful,

we will get a new place, we will hire a band,

we are unprepared,


the smell of blood hasn’t intoxicated us yet,

the black light bulbs haven’t illuminated us yet.

We will start an inquiry, produce evidence, and cry throughout this freezing cold century.



Back home after a long disquiet,

the moon up there shriveled up and dried out like a wineskin.

I will jumpstart a new life solely due to a new weakness.



Here was once the rock bottom of delirium.


You can watch your end most effectively in that blind spot.



You too will seeee

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