Dan Coman was born in 1975 in Gersa (Romania). He published three books of poetry, anul cârtiței galbene (The year of the yellow mole, Timpul Publishing House, Iaşi, 2003), Ghinga (Vinea Publishing House, Bucharest, 2005), Dicţionarul Mara, ghidul tatălui 0-2 ani (Mara Dictionary, father guide: 0-2 years, Cartier Publishing House, Chişinau, 2009) and two anthologies of his own poetry: d great coman (Vinea Publishing House, Bucharest, 2007) and erg (Charmides Publishing House, Bistrita, 2012). He also published three novels: (Irezistibil (Irresistible, Cartea Românească Publishing House, 2010), Parohia (The Parish, Cartea Românească Publishing House 2012), Căsnicie (Polirom Publishing House, 2015). He won the following prizes: The Writers Union Prize Award, 2004, Mihai Eminescu Award, Opera Prima, 2004, Radio Romania Cultural Award 2010, Crystal Vilenica Prize, Slovenia, 2011. He is present in the following anthologies: Om jag inte får tala med någon nu: 27 poeter från Rumänien, Bokförlaget Tranan, Sweden, 2011, Of Gentle Wolves, An Anthology of Romanian Poetry edited by Martin Woodside, Calypso Editions (2011), The Vanishing Point that whistles, Talisman House Publishers, Massachusetts, 2011, Anthologie de la poésie roumaine contemporaine, (Paris), 2008, Iz Novije Rumunske Poezije, Serbia, 2009, Pesniki, Cakajoci na angela, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2010, Szabadulas a gettobol, Hungary. In 2012, the anthology Ghinga was published in Edition Solitude, Stuttgart, translated into German by Georg Aescht. His poems have been translated into German, Swedish, French, English, Slovenian, Serbian, Hungarian and published in several literary magazines.

new mornings

several times a week there are new mornings

mornings that seem as good as any other

if they don’t quite reach a meter’s height


some educational cubes for children under one


coffee no longer fits in

tobacco no longer leaves the mouth and

our love sits close between us like a cow

shedding its hair


mara walks here

walks all sorts of small bodies

for whom the air is just a toy

to push quickly-quickly in the nose


these are new mornings

powdered milk rolls all over the length of them

a Chicco sun ticks endlessy over their width


these are new mornings


a meter above them

our large bodies float already belly-up.




biscuits with apple sauce

 I stay with mara at the window.

a beautiful winter’s day

it snows as we eat biscuits with apple sauce

not saying a thing.

each with the whole winter morning before us.

sometimes we stop eating and

press our noses to the glass

we stay that way without saying a thing

breath warms my face slowly

and slowly-slowly mara’s breath

spreads warmth throughout the park.




I wake up every morning before five

and like this, unwashed without tobacco

like this, in the dark and cold

I get out of bed on all fours

feeling for it.

before five he’s no more than a glass bead

when I touch him whoosh

leaping to some other part of the room.

I pick him up quickly, using only two fingers

roll him only on the carpet

lest he make noise and

wake the girls.

so it’s this way at five on all fours with this sun

this sun in the room rolled for hours on end

until like a snowball it grows quite large

until it begins to brighten begins to warm

though it’s only after growing so large

brighter and warmer

it’s only then that the sweat pours out

the Chicco sun sweating likes a grown man

and at eight when the girls wake up

they must open the window

needing nearly an hour to air out the room.



love poem

all day it couldn’t get any better as all day

we are stuffed little men,

and mara comes between clothing us combing us

gently palming our bottoms

mara comes and mounted on some plastic ducks

floats us out in coffee


all day it couldn’t get any better as all day

we are snow white with the seven dwarves

mara comes among us and

unscrews our hans

unscrews our feet and cleans off our stomachs

pulling out all the oakum and wool


all day it couldn’t get any better


only at night do we become full of flesh

only at night when mara finally sleeps


when we squeeze quickly under the blanket

and in silence slap against one another

like two chicken legs.


the ninth ward, maternity

 I enter the ninth ward a sheep hung at the neck.

struggling forward,

the security guards take me for a priest

keep following after me

keep lifting the sheep like on a cross

kissing it on the muzzle.


and this scared sheep hidden-in my clothing as in the grass

causes Tlinda to burst out laughing.

before she rises from bed

I see how slyly she arranges her beating heart as though

arranging a peasant skirt under the table.


birthing-birthing, stale fragment of air over a kitchen sink

as the nurse pushes in with her needle, zzzt,

the sheep at my neck sleeps now, like some bats

the other women hang there heads down,

careful not to unsettle the milk.


birthing-birthing, from this fragment of air comes nothing.


I sit on the edge of the bed and from the compote I open

first trickles of coffee.

like a small field of weeds

the powdered milk has invaded the shelves

casting shadows in the room and in these shadows

Tlinda seduces, massages the other milk.


I see all too well: her sad and confused

signaling me to help


and then I slip my head under the blanket

slip my head into the gown to the height of the breast

I press my ear close but hear nothing

perhaps, I say, mother’s milk makes no sound

and then summoning courage I squeeze the breast a few times

and the nipples snap like fingers

but apart from a burst of fresh air in my eyes

nothing, not a drop.


don’t worry Tlinda, I whisper, don’t worry

my comforting words stain her gown like cabbage rolls.


it’s late now, better you go

and I know from her blushing

that it’s time to nurse I start to go

but suddenly, in the ninth ward, life begins


row after row of women beginning to breathe to whimper

and rising now the way coffee rises an umph ah oy

slapping stomachs with both hands

the sound of milk in the breast like a jet of espresso


row after row rising up to form a perfect Indian chain

they begin to rock begin to chant

praise for natural breast milk

one after another laying hand to shoulder

then making little circles with their feet


and hop-hop one by one hop-hop out of the ward



and here goes Tlinda well behind the rest

red-red in the face and

without that hop-hop in her step


there she goes leaving with a bottle of formula in her arms

as if she went with a sack of potatoes

as if she went out directly her breasts exposed

making no sign for me to wait



and so I wake the sheep at my throat

we walk like the women, those who’ve just given birth

and sneak into the ward bathroom

for a smoke.



Translated by Martin Woodside and Ioana Ieronim




the rape


not for a moment did I stop talking to myself as if to a woman

but today my shamelessness exceeds my fancy.

it’s past midnight and for an hour I’ve been turning round and round myself

with dizzying speed and kissing my hands.

I have no power to abstain. it’s beyond my power.

just knowing I’m there inside him and my body reacts

like ten cats in heat all together like no one else.

I’ve tried everything. complete silence total rest. it’s in vain.

every time I spoke my mouth was ready to devour itself

because of such sonorous splendor such mastery.

for months on end I tried to humiliate myself. utterly in vain.

in truth: I never stopped talking to myself as if I were a woman

but today when I’d scarcely managed to put my body to sleep

then the tension between him and me had nearly dissipated.

though nothing was more powerful and nothing could stop me:
I raised myself in all my splendor above my body I pinned him between the pillows

and as if he were a woman a few strong and precise movements were enough

for his stifled screams to cover my screams.




impossible to move

I’m impossible to move, there is nothing inside me

still I’m impossible to move with the force of only one man.

like a massive piece of living-room furniture.

like anything that means nothing in itself.

but I talk. I talk until the skin of my cheeks bursts.

I never stop talking.

all my force gathers like a spring inside my mouth

and mercilessly beats out sound after sound. phrase after phrase.

nobody ever seems to get tired of understanding nothing of what I say.

nobody seems annoyed because there’s nobody left.

that’s how I was born. straight out of the ground impossible to move

directly with words outside mine. exactly like this.

like anything else that means nothing in itself.


Translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Paul Doru Mugur.