Monday, June 22, 2015

Sergiu Mandinescu

Sergiu Mandinescu (1926—1964) is a Romanian poet who spent fourteen years of his brief life in a communist prison. While incarcerated, he was not permitted to have either pen or paper — sometimes living in solitary confinement — and so, Mandinescu had to memorize his poems as he wrote them. Whenever he shared a cell with other prisoners he was able to recite his poetry to them, but had to be careful of watchful guards and informers. Much of his poetry was lost, due to the continual mistreatment he faced from communist authorities.

Like many Romanian political prisoners, Mandinescu was able to turn to his Orthodox Christian faith, which helped him to survive. It is not surprising, then, that the following poem, is in the form of a prayer.

Amen (Prison Prayer)

If I only had an angel’s quill
and the dark ink of night
perhaps only then I might
gather from all my vagaries
to write my memories
telling why I’m bleeding, I will.
Plundered stars of the night.
At the window of Hope — irons tight.
At the door of Salvation — the lock.
Our pale face, asleep on the block.
As the hatred breaks out, all its dark flame will sweep
in a split second, the fire will wring
our mind, soul and wing,
our ashes piled high, in a heap.
When the terrible hammers will shatter the silence
to pieces, as great as the penance,
our broken-up souls will be reaching the sky,
as the martyrs will burn on the pyre, up high.
Such a terrible grief and the beatings of kind
caused so many inmates to have shattered their mind
as a great many more for eternity strive
from the ones who’ve been there, just the dead are alive.
Just like him and like you, I am only a bloke:
see, My Lord? I do walk and I talk
as a true living corpse my existence is bare
I am ready, My Lord, to be taken up there.
I embrace all the pain and the anguish I merit
as I wait to be called by the heralds of Heaven
in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.