Ash Wednesday

by Romulus Balkan (Romania)

Translated from Romanian by the author

 Edited by Robert Fenhagen 


The dog lying in the corner is howling an oddly melodic canine serenade.

I look down at my beer mug, and watch a fly struggling in it, and wonder if its drowning, or will it die with a smile on its face?

Will I?

That is the problem with my mind.

I am obsessing about everything today.

Life, death; will the pygmies survive after their habitat was disturbed by Europeans?

My mind whirls and churns.

I feel concerned, but I also feel insane.

I hate the Goya reproduction that I’m gazing at and running my finger around the frame. It vaguely shows cedar smoke, so maybe it is about a smokehouse, but I begin to think that Goya lives, so I’ll worry about that for a while.  I don’t hate Goya; I simply don’t know him.

I am a writer.

I believe that a true writer worry about everything or perhaps that is a person, who gains pleasure out of being miserable—I do not know, nor, do I care.

I am a writer, I worry, and I live in a big city, which gives me a lot of grist for my worrying.

A lone wolf, I thrive on images of isolation and doubt.

A lone wolf is apt to die because of isolation.  Wolves, like humans, are social creatures, and need the interaction of their kind to live.

My mind allows me to be free, but I worry.

My friend is a writer like me.  Sometimes, he comes to my tiny apartment, and we reject the publishing houses that have rejected me.

He is a true friend, and knows I must be pro-active in the rejection game, or else I might feel the hurt and disappointments.

I do not really need them; they really need me.

I am a lone wolf, and I fool myself a lot.

I know absolutely that I must show my work to others.

A farmer must farm to continue to learn how to farm

A sheepherder has to herd sheep, so they may refine the herding business—sheep welcome.

I believe that God allowed us varied careers and occupations, so that we might teach a little bit of our world to others, hence, expanding and expounding on the human experience, which, as many see it, is His doing in the first place.

“Pharisee!  Get out of the temple!”  yells my friend, as he tries to convince me to get out of my apartment, and go for a walk.

“You know, God is such a huge entity that it is impossible to find his true core; his true meaning—he is simply too great, too big.

He is Big Man in the Universe.  God is great, right…?

No matter how long, or hard one searches, one cannot truly discover the true meaning and core of God.

 My Heavens!

Reason excludes God, I think.

If I believe in faith without proof is Right, then, should we not doubt HIM, as well as ourselves?

God is alive, but where is HE?

Is He in my mind, in my heart, in the Earth, in the Universe?

Where is that gigantic scamp?  He loves to play Hide and go Seek, doesn’t HE?

If I am a lone wolf, and if I am unemployed, and if I have only one friend to support my quests, then I probably do not eat adequately, so my blood sugar has dropped, so I may not be thinking clearly, so is this the time to assume that I know anything about anything?

God is the ultimate, and man is the ultimate of God’s creations—the highest form of evolution.

Does that mean I am a Darwinist, as opposed to a Creationist?

No, I do not portend to understand everything, and at this point, my stomach is empty, so I can assume nothing, but I can ignore even less.

If God provided me a crumb, should I ignore it, or should I feel gratitude?  Should I eat it?

I think so. 

God is the ultimate, all powerful, all knowing, all seeing, so why am I  here writing about God, with a lowered blood pressure due to lack of a meal?

Hey, God, what am I? Yesterday’s stew?

I feel a headache coming on, which is fine as I was thinking that it would be fine to put out my cigarette on the back of a Bengalese tiger, so it’s possible that a headache saved my life.

God does work in mysterious ways.

As my headache increase, I feel the Hell of the human experience; its creative vortex; its creative energy expended in greed.  What a nightmare; what a headache.

Soon, we’ll leave to go over to my friend’s house.

Perhaps we’ll travel through mountains singing songs that we learned from Sheppard’s that were herding sheep.

Perhaps we will walk along a path that cuts through a farmer’s land—land on which he grows food. 

As we were walking into his tiny home, we ceased talking, as if we’d made a previous pact.

We hadn’t, but we decided to go to sleep—he on two armchairs, and me on an old, rusted camp bed.

That night, I dreamt of rats.

The next morning, I found my friend dead on the camp bed.

I think I may have lost my mind for a while, because I went searching for an angel to clip his wings, pour powdered ember on them, and witness either their regeneration, or their suffering.

It was a sunny Wednesday, with sick, gray sun in the sky.

Ash Wednesday

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