Two Poems by Claudia Serea

The Names

Trains, trains, trains chew the night with steel teeth.
Cattle trains crowded with names:
Maria, Ioana, Stefana, Gheorghe, Ion, Constantin.
Trains loaded with souls, some moaning, some silent,
taking them to the end of the world.

What is the train conductor thinking, looking ahead in the dark?
Can he see in the headlights the tracks leading into an unfamiliar land?
Does he feel the heaviness of his train carrying the shame of the world?
Or does he feel lucky he’s not one in the cars?
He squints and lights a cigarette.
For a moment, his face flares up, then darkness eats it again.

Maria, Ioana, Stefana, Gheorghe, Ion, Constantin
came back as fall crocuses:
a field of names trembling in the sun.
Step lightly, dear. Watch out for the numb bee
that lands on their tongues and sips their songs.

She Was Born Old and Waiting

In summer, the tears not yet spilled pool inside her chest.

In fall, she fingers a rosary of rain.

In winter, all her tears dry and the empty riverbeds freeze. Her soul is a cave
with a stalagmite at its center. One drop keeps falling, and her sadness builds up
but never reaches the surface.

The surface breaks in spring when the river bursts free. As waters carry her tears
into the sea, her body becomes smaller and smaller.

Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. Her poems and translations have appeared in 5 a.m., Meridian, Harpur Palate, Word Riot, The Red Wheelbarrow, Cutthroat, Green Mountains Review, and many others. She was nominated two times for the 2012 Pushcart Prize and for 2012 Best of the Net. She is the author of Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, Canada, 2012), and A Dirt Road Hangs from the Sky (8th House Publishing, Canada). She also published the chapbooks The System (Cold Hub Press, New Zealand, 2012), With the Strike of a Match (White Knuckles Press, 2011), and Eternity’s Orthography (Finishing Line Press, 2007). She co-edited and co-translated The Vanishing Point That Whistles, an Anthology of Contemporary Romanian Poetry (Talisman Publishing, 2011). She also translated from the Romanian Adina Dabija’s Beautybeast (Northshore Press, 2012). Visit her blog at