25 Years Since

A bit of erasure poetry for you tonight (well, more prose than poetry), which I’m linking to that wonderfully welcoming venue for sharing poems and ideas, the dVerse Poets Pub.

It’s almost exactly 25 years since our revolution in Romania. For many years I called it a ‘stolen’ or ‘so-called’ revolution, as we saw people tarnished by their Communist and security forces links become the most vocal proponents of the free market (and profiting hugely by it). But, no matter what followed, that doesn’t diminish the magic and hope of those few days when we really believed we could change the world. I found my diary from that time and have chosen a few lines from here and there to give you a feel for the atmosphere.



Dad was called in to the office on Sunday evening.

‘Don’t send any Christmas cards abroad just now.’

Helicopters flying overhead.

In Timişoara, rubber cudgels. Bullets too, so we hear.

We’re all hoping for more.

‘No public gatherings, curfew at 8 p.m., keep your ID card with you at all times.’

The school is strangely empty, profs barricaded in the Dean’s office.

Nearly holidays but no tickets:  trains have been cancelled.

‘Those imperialistic and fascist forces trying to destabilise our fatherland.’

They’ve smashed bookshop windows and burnt Ceauşescu’s books.

They dared the army to shoot:

‘We are the people, who are you protecting?’


Rumours, rumours everywhere.

This morning he calls a public meeting, shown live on TV,

with slogan-filled banners, portraits of the Beloved Couple.

I’m on my knees, praying for something to happen.

Suddenly, someone interrupted – I heard, I heard the boos!

Utter befuddlement on his face:

‘You mean, they really don’t like me?’

Transmission cut for a few endless minutes.

radardemediaMy parents begged me not to leave the house.

‘All students should resign their party membership:

a party that can kill its own people has lost all credibility.’

Tanks rolled up, shooting continued into the night, dogs barking wildly.

No heroics, more like running, finding shelter.

Smashing glass with your bare head.

Radio switched on every few minutes.

What were we expecting?

All we heard were patriotic songs.


Then at 12:55 p.m. the music stopped:

‘This is Radio Free Bucharest. We have an important announcement to make.’

Appeals to go out to help, provide medical aid, electricity, food.

It feels like civil war.

I went to a hospital to offer my first-aid skills but they only took the gauze.

We want to hug. We need to run.

Trucks loaded with people, unarmed yet willing.

A joy to see how well-behaved and selfless people are,

even if enemies and sharpshooters lurk atop buildings.

In the breaks between the shooting, we help

provide free drinks.

Companionship of perfect strangers.

I drop the cherries in my pie, keeping time with the machine-guns.

This morning our block of flats was shot at:

it’s Christmas Eve.

From Cartim.ro
From Cartim.ro






29 thoughts on “25 Years Since”

  1. what a historical moment… i can only imagine how it is to be in the very center of a revolution with all the fears and hopes… thanks for allowing us a personal glimpse into the very heart of it…

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this. I am a bit more aware of Romanian events at that time than other countries in that area, but this helps to make me aware of what those living there went through. Before and during the events.

  3. 25 years ago.. amazing.. a true divide.. and for me.. only seeing it on the news.. listening to radio.. and all of the sudden all those news streaming in.. there were such changes, and optimism.. surely a lot of disappointments.. To really get this piece which is almost like a war-poem, a first hand account.. thank your so much for sharing this.

  4. Really amazing writing. Hard to believe it is ‘erasure’ poetry when it flows as well as this. Thanks for the personal recounting. Your words really bring the revolution to life. Can’t fathom that 25 years have passed!

  5. I am sure that after so many years beyond the ‘iron curtain’ you knew you were going through a historical moment. As Björn mentioned we all hoped the world was becoming a better place. While I am convinced not many people would like to go back, only to their golden-tinted version maybe, the world is still a dark place for many.

  6. Powerful and full of startling images. Your decision to make it an erasure piece is very affecting. As if with the erasure all that the heart needs to say is tamped down by the turmoil, trampled in ideology and fear. Excellent!

    1. Well, my diary entries went on for pages and pages. I was having my Anne Frank moment, I suppose. Erasure was the only possible outcome! But its funny how even when we think we are being fully factual, reporting events, poetry creeps in…

  7. This brought me back to the time in my motherland when I was caught in the revolution too, the change was dramatic but the people came out, sharing what they can with food, drinks and prayer ~ Thanks for sharing this Marina and making me appreciate the Romanian history ~ I am even more in awe to read that this is an erasure poetry ~ Merry Christmas ~

    1. It took my diaries to remind me of the good aspects of those confused days – my memory had retained only the more shocking, sad, dramatic aspects. Thank you, Grace, for your comments, sounds like you know the feeling!

  8. What a moving portrait of that time! Such a perfect blend of fear, hope, and all things both new and frightening – and amazing. You’ve captured it elegantly!

  9. “We want to hug. We need to run.” – That’s surely the moment inside the fine remembrance. Tidal moments like this crest with all of the wonder and possibility and tremendous sound of things falling. Whatever to come, it’s exactly Christmas Eve. Fine write, Marina.

  10. fantastic retelling. it’s sometimes hard to image we live in history, since it appears that the history being made around us is so filled with shame… ~

  11. Interesting as i did not realize you are Romanian by heritage.. and we in the U.S.A. are so privileged and perhaps spoiled for no one really living a war on the ground of square miles of blood…

    911 was the only true time of FEELING PATRIOTISM IN THE air in the U.S. and short-lived as the resources are so abundant here.. that even patriotism can be used.. to gain a lie…..

    Wars are a sad story but also one that can bring folks together as one…..

    Happy Holidays!..:) too…..

  12. What an incredible story, Marina!! A long poem often has to have a driving narrative, or incredible language, for me to hang in until the end sometimes. Yours had both.

  13. NOTE…I am ill with a bad virus, & can barely type, so pardon me if I don’t
    comment on your poetics. All of us in the dVerse community enjoy a unique
    fellowship, & I cherish it with all my heart. Wishing you ALL a Merry Christmas
    & may 2015 bring all of us joy.

  14. Wow, you have lived through so much. I admire your courage and fortitude in the face of such dark times. My heart also goes out to you that you had to be amid such danger and dire circumstances. So glad you came through them.May you and those you love always be safe.

    1. It may have been strange and dark and dangerous, but it was also the most liberating, empowering moment I’ve ever experienced, so I wouldn’t change a thing! Thank you so much for your kind words -here’s wishing all of us a bit of peace and safety during the Christmas season.

  15. Really made me think what a frightening and insecure time you had to live through. This helps me imagine the panic, the strangeness, the not-knowing, then tenuous excitement…you have an awesome talent.

Do share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.