The Hunchbacks' Bus

Nora Iuga

Translated by: Diana Manole & Adam J. Sorkin

Original text: "Autobuzol cu cocosati "


Artwork by Cheryl Langford

sam just wants to play the flute

sam no longer wants to think about

world problems

sam just wants to play the flute

it’s so beautiful this morning

when the swallow returns to its nest

i’m an orphan a little peanut

like a cigarette butt

there’s no angel around

to purify me with his eternal wing

i was jealous he was dressing

in ’50s style

he sent me his clothes

to wear in the year 2000

however those shoes

ran off to other galaxies

my kinfolk dwell there

they take siestas tell jokes

eat cakes

i hear them nonstop

flowing through my broken taps


sam brushes his teeth with colgate

sam sees two flies through the window

thinks of europa and zeus

feels embarrassed

thinks of benedict

and his running shoes

filled with borrowed feet

there’s a difference in degree

between a pigeon and a mailbox

there’s a difference in degree

between a cow and the red hands

that milk it

benedict is far away

he wanders in the clouds

sniffs meteorites

sends sam a pie filled with

angels and easter lilies

sam’s mouth smells like a church

he brushes his teeth with colgate

spits in the sink

admires his dentures in the mirror

sees a white telephone

that brings him a message

Nora Iuga

Nora Iuga, born 4 January 1931, has had a literary career spanning more than four and a half decades. Iuga has published 15 collections of poems, seven books of prose, and 33 books of translation of German authors, and has won major awards in Romania and Germany for her work.

Diana Manole & Adam J. Sorkin

Since she immigrated to Canada, Diana Manole’s poetry has appeared in English (originals or in translation) in The Nashwaak Review, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, untethered, Grain, Event, POEM (UK), Lunch Ticket, Third Wednesday, The Chattahoochee Review, Absinthe and Cutthroat. Her translations of Nora Iuga with Adam Sorkin are appearing widely.


Adam J. Sorkin, a translator of contemporary Romanian literature, has published more than fifty books of translation, among them Rodica Draghincescu’s A Sharp Double-Edged Luxury Object, George Vulturescu’s Gold and Ivy/Aur și iederă, Marta Petreu’s The Book of Anger, and Mihail Gălățanu’s The Starry Womb (all 2014, with co-translators).