The first time I heard of Andrei Codrescu, he was speaking on National Public Radio. And he was speaking about my hometown, New Orleans. And he was speaking like he knew what he was talking about, which he did, and with an Eastern European accent. Who was this guy?
Codrescu was born in Romania. He published his first poems in Romanian, but left the country to escape communism. He eventually landed in America, and lived in Detroit, New York, San Francisco, New Orleans and Baton Rouge, where he retired after 2009 as MacCurdy Distinguished Professor of English at Louisiana State University. He’s published several books of poetry, as well as novels, essays and screenplays. He received critical acclaim for his coverage of the 1989 revolution in Romania for National Public Radio and ABC News, and has been honored with numerous awards and recognitions.
This poem is from Jealous Witness: Poems (2008).
touch that spoke while it spins
at the world exhibition in paris as all
the characters of sentimental novels
who have fled their masters’ manuscripts
with morcol the detective of shadows
in hot pursuit being recorded by m. queneau
are mounting the bicycle seat one by one
and deciding their destinies in a fulgurant second
the appeal and the description by later
exegetic apologists for the postmodern
takes longer than we thought and besides
nobody dares touch the spoke as the wheel
spins not even the talented ones whose hands
have been slapped by something we’ll call
culture or hypnosis or techno-somnolence
meanwhile time flies and nobody’s having fun