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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 28 | volume V | September-October, 2002



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 28September-October, 2002
Poetry

Medea and Her War Machines

Translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Alina Carac


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p. 1
Ioan Flora

Medea and Her War Machines
The Mare Danube

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Medea and Her War Machines

Thunder, an eclipse of the sun, the trunks of beech trees, pots
of pitch and sulfur, iron-tipped battering rams, hung from towers,
to breach walls.
Testudos.
Fire.
Fire.
Inside, armed men talking about the bridge built on the bridge,
about platforms carrying buckets of flame, about
the horseman spurring his horse and swimming the river.
A horse bearing lanterns, shod with hot embers against the enemy.
A fagot of dry wood, burning the gates, firing up the cauldrons,
scaling ladders and mobile lanterns.
raising the waters to the heights.

Mud, wind, the blackness of darkness, I strain to see high above me, on the mountain.
I hear the crackle of frozen branches under the horse's hooves.
I climb, we climb, with leaden legs; I stop, bend, tighten
my bootlaces, put a match to a cigarette;
the slope that must be climbed, the fir tree that must be cut and then decorated,
a few hundred meters more, a trail of smoke
snaking over my head.
At last, the forest; at last, the fir tree. The flash of the silver axe
in the night, the fall of the tree at the edge of the precipice, the tree
in the cart secured by chains,
the gravel, voices from not far away, the downward rush of water, boulders,
sand scrunching under firm footsteps, triumphal entrance in the yard.
Stiff with cold, I sit near the stove.

Greek fire borne by asses,
alcohol, gas, vinegar, torches in the hand of man or ghost,
mules, bison, dogs, cats, rats as big as mountains,
bombards, trebuchets, cannons,
assault ships,
ships with catapults for pellets and bolts, breakers of ships and of citadels,
pitch, sulfur, thistles and tow, incendiary mice,
wine, tar, oil,
boiling-hot weapons emptied in the foe's viscera.

Her cheeks ablaze, she gathers her hair behind her; she whispers softly,
surely, it won't be long until daybreak.
he fir tree in the yard, Christmas on its way, the fixed stars, there, high overhead,
the silver axe embedded in the stump.
She pours warm water into basin, bends forward and kisses me, it's warm,
there's a glow of light on the house, your feet must be freezing,
sip this hot mulled tuica.
Take my arm, the skin around your nose wrinkles when you laugh.

”Powdered sulfur and charcoal should be thoroughly mixed with saltpeter
and then, when you want to touch it off, add
brandy to the resulting powder – four ounces to a liter;
let it dry well…”
If you don't have any brandy, then
”take vinegar and mix it well, then let the powder dry.
Even better than vinegar is camphor.
Arsenic mixed in the powder will propel the stone further.”

A horse bearing a lantern, onion, cheese, fish, lamb pate,
viscera, feces and human corpses in an advanced state of putrefaction,
the impossibility of raising the eaters to the heights,
the state of siege, plague the enslaver,
galleys with battering rams, ships with stars,
15 ounces of saltpeter, 4 ounces of sulfur, 3 ounces of willow charcoal.
Ladders, levers, pulleys, winches,
the removal, conveyance and storage of air under the winter sky,
transport ships, fishing boats,
churches sacked, huts abandoned,
lookouts, assault towers, battle animals, lances, pikes,
scythes, rams, catapults for stones, catapults for feces at full boil.

At last, the forest; at last, the fir tree. The flash of the silver axe
in the night, the fall of the tree at the edge of the precipice…

Mills turned by asses, mills grinding in the void that gapes open
between he arm raising a weapon and the eye ready to awaken
death frozen in the pupil of an enemy soldier,
turpentine, aqua ardente and aqua vitis,
the camp with its crush of souls,
the chitchat between two soldiers carrying torches and halberds
in heated argument about the (im)possibility of building
bridges on bridges,
about the horseman drowned in the river and the infantryman carrying a firebrand;
meanwhile, the low, hurried chortle of a peasant loitering near noon
in the Town Hall Square, a murmur responding
to the infectious, sparkling laugh of a young townsman,
an emphatic laugh like summer rain, with bubbles.

When you kiss me, the skin around my nose wrinkles.






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