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In a city, 
where crows fight the pigeons for a crumb,
and both - ignore sparrows.
Where monuments are built 
not to the whole pharaohs -
but to their genitalia;
A city 
divided in half by a gray river 
that eclipses the sky;
Where tears search in vain for a voice -
in order to cry;

Where men - in suits and ties -
at the sight of a whores prostrated tit,
think of the Capitol - 
its nipple dimly lit;
trade state secrets for a touch of flesh,
and with the next mornings news crash -

I wonder: What made them hold out that long?

What force urged them to abstain from 
their own selves?
What deterred the rare return of their souls
into the flash of innocence...
into the revelations of childhood -
when memories were a fable,
when days were incandescence 
and sobriety,
and when weight was 
as incomprehensible 
as wait!

To what? - 
To whom? -
must one relegate the cruelty 
of finally knowing all the pain
in an anonymous hotel room,
atop some viscous whore,
who - unlike that witch! -
wont tear into flight upon a broom,
but will perform her chore -
under you.

To what? To whom? -
This city.
Its architecture -
The apotheosis of accessibility.
Whose sly design is meant 
to make you forget to repent.

Whose stone mumbles of necessity -
mainly your own.

Like an ugly, dull mistress, 
thankful for your every call,
repays not with gratitude - 
but on all fours - with a crawl,
and shivers under you - 
like a dried out leaf.
You crush it.
And crushed - 
you take your leave.

Out of here -
I must follow the despairing river.
And learn to hate this sky,
tormented daily by the man-made crimson fever
of emitted rays.
For it is not here that I shall end my days -
this city where overtake me! - is in every brick.
And every tongue is ready for a lick.

Out of here -
this self-assured, nauseating stone,
of a deflowering empire - built on sweat.
Out - to where the eye is met
by flying lions, gargoyles,dragons -
by all that is unreal -
not by limpid limbs -
which provoke your palms to touch
and crush whatever is in between your crotch.

Or better yet-
 to the steppe.
Where every step
makes you lesser, less,
out -
to where lips move
only to confess.
Out - 
to where vastness makes your vision narrow.
And you lift up your head -
not to shout -
but to envy a sparrow.


Oh, to be one of those placid souls
who cozy up with a cup of pale tea
to warm the palate and wash 
their hands off the day like 
resigned Pilate in an armchair
left by someones great great great grandmother
With a hard-back of Proust in the lap
and a saccharine stare directed at the window 
where the afternoon is as slow as 
ones thoughts of deliverance
Snow as deliberate in its falling
as sentences on the page
which rustle in step 
to someones footsteps
in an upstairs bedroom
Footsteps which speak neither
of resolution nor resignation
neither hurry towards him nor from him
which betray neither hate nor desire
Just to sit there in an armchair
in an arrested artificial silence
and brood over that nothing which is life
and which overall has turned out
To be able to numb the faraway sting of pain or regret
and imagine that one has reached salvation.


                 To Alexei Sobolev 

We lived in a house 
where cliches
drummed to their march 
One by One.
On Belmont and W.
All that could be done there
was gone.
And if it was left -
it was thought unworthy of theft
or stayed intact
in order to stun
the writers humid eye.
And when it could no longer stay dry,
when a tear squeezed out
of a half- shut lid,
hed mutter: What a pile of shit!

To the right of the house
was a park.
With its on-call pigeons,
the statue of Aligieri.
The sculptor by day -
would hark the blood.
And by night -
he was haunted
by the visions of Dante.
Until -
to the light of crack-pipes
as his funeral vigil,
an ambulance came 
disguised as Virgil
to point him towards
the Nine Discs of Hell.
And the landlord muttered:
Alls well that ends well...


In the New World
they still retain their habits.
They isolate them. A monks habit
isolates him from the colored
vestment of the most...
Visibility is the cost
commonly paid.
The inability to fade
into the common hues and contours
stretches the hours.
And offers solitude as a revenge.
So physical - it makes one cringe.
Throw up ones hands and hate
everything that bears weight.

An accordion gapes its teeth,
stretches each crease in hands of an emigre.
He sits by the Brooklyn Marina -
his suit matching the gray
folds of the waves.
The waves expire one after the other.
His drunken eyes narrowed
focus on a point that lies farther
than the horizon -
and beyond it - again - lies the sky.
That sky is the same as here.
This sight doesnt render a wail.
But it does - a tear,

provided, of course, you havent 
unlearned how to cry.
And a solitary bird
looks not like a speck of dirt
upon the empty canvass -
but a point of departure where hurt
makes you soar
without questioning whats in store.
From lack of careful ears makes you turn to your pen.
From hope-hungry Job - to Zen.
And the accordion squeezes the primitive melody
about the end of the war.
By the Brooklyn Marina about a girl named Marina
who became a whore,
the emigre sings with half-toothless mouth -
all out of tune.
And the aborigines stand and listen
like modern splendors amidst the dunes.
Their gaze - compassionate, even - 
like a cardiogram of a corpse.
They whisper: Back home it mustve been worse...
They believe in the future -
That even incurable sadness must have a positive glow.
And the waves of Atlantic like Zen-masters flow.


In the summer they grow anxious and fidget
from surplus of light - of time.
Restless, like midgets
in the middle of a town square,
they marvel at everything in its tiniest detail -
the veins upon a leaf,
the consistency of hail,
the anatomy of daily grief.

Everything becomes visible
 and, thus, all too unbearable 
for their blunt, yet brittle minds.
In the evening one finds
them outside, grilling meat. They discuss
the affairs of the state, rarely those - of the heart.
While their wives veil their disgust
with a look of forced innocence. They try hard 
to smile. Mostly, they sigh.
And you invariably ask : Why?

But that is not the question to ask.
In their domain,
it is wiser not to ask questions at all.
You must remember, they fear pain.
Dread being alone.
So, if you find yourself among them,
just go along.
Speak of something insignificant that you crave.
Mostly, you see, they are slaves
of their desires, whims.
At the height of purity, they sing hymns
to their country, themselves, their laws.
And the wisest among them -
among us is a whore.

Slide easy and be aware 
that they mock inner struggle.
They are envious, jealous.
So, if theres something you care
about, you must smuggle
it into their midst.
First slowly. Then with a blast.
Shock value is what they react to the best.
Because they are vulgar. And constantly bored.
A clear voice doesnt stir them. But a horde
of shrieks drives them to tears.
They are sentimental and cruel. One hears
an easy dichotomy between their word and deed.
And their poetry is tired, swollen - like a drug-addict's eyelid.

But youll do well if you smile a lot.
And dont squirm at their habits.
No matter how strange,
dont let them see you cringe.
Appear to be indifferent, cool.
Most of the time, act a fool.

Overall, youll find it a sad place -
which survives on a needle and a shot.
Theirs - is not an enviable lot.
They love to travel through allotted space
in order to kill time.
So dont show surprise,
in fact, dont even blink
at their habit of saving a dime
to escape for a few weeks each year -
and, thus, stuff their lack.
Keep in mind, they dont hold out too long -
they almost always come back
after they feed their lust.
Do you still want to go? Well if you must,
as I said, dont stand out like a tree.
Appear to be a splinter.
And wait for the summer to pass.
Go in winter.

                     (An American Poem) 

                                                  To Anthony Hecht

A seventy five year old poet with watery eyes
of Anglo-Saxon indifference -
eyes that soak up life rather than react to it, says:
You know, once I had one Life, I mean
His glance slithers along the hardcover classics
neatly stacked upon the shelves.
It halts momentarily at his own name.
He mumbles something tedious on fame
and water drips from his lids. Not tears.
Dear, he says to his wife, dear,
were going to be engaging this living room
for just a bit longer.
And the designated dear leaves revelling
in the subdued glory of becoming a poets widow.
He looks absently at the snow falling outside the window
and grins half-a-grin.
To ward off honesty, he offers: 
Would you care for gin? It rhymes with your last name
Not bad for the old rhymester, is it?
A drop of bitter liquid settles upon his cracked lips
which, from neglect of anothers flesh,
have forgotten how to absorb.
You mustnt think, he sounds disturbed,
that this is what Ive always had. 
He stretches his frail hands to envelop his present.
In fact, I am in recovery from life for many years
You see, when I was actually alive, I could hardly bear
the order of things. I felt like a mare
with a chronic longing for a caress,
but instead, got the weight of some rich bitchs ass
who would never shy away from brandishing a whip
when the barriers got steep.
And, so, I found myself in an asylum, a loony-bin, 
Ward Number Six.
Daily awaiting the salvation of a needles fix.
Thats when I clearly saw what life does to us
and I decided to retreat, to lose all connection, 
to cut the last thread. I decided to play dead.
Since then, he laughed, I am very much liked
And all is well. Ive become used to the predicament.
Hell is being devoid of passion, being reduced
to an instrument that can only describe.
As if some brutish force is shoving you a bribe
to stay silent, to recoil.
Untill you finally rot and spoil
inside an intricate web of words
which, stripped of soul, resemble warrior-hordes
without a purpose, without a war.
And turn you into a bore.
So, he continued, it is in this light
you should accept my answers,
though they do seem banal.
I have lost the interest to fight.
In fact, you could compare me to a splinter of glass 
floating along a polluted canal,
with no desire to be theatrical
after having the madness to shine
By the way, you can quote this line
Nothing at all like your writer 
who in his old age could not stay silent .*
Words bearing purpose seem violent to me..
Now, I think, if he happened to live across this yard,

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