No leaving for you and me.
Mere holes—the seven seas.
Oceans—out of reach
with only a fiver each.

Poverty’s bone-dry crumbs:
summer a crust we gum.
The sea—mere shallows.
Our summer—swallowed.

Bursting with fat—their “luster”—
they gorge on butter, feast on
our brains: poems, plays, overtures.
Cannibals in Parisian couture!

You savor us for a franc,
then wash your mouths out, freaks,
with our glorious, immortal
music! I curse you for my

burning shame when I shake
your hand! For memory’s sake
I’ll leave my stinging, five-fingered trace—
my autograph—on your face!


That country

Seek it with a lantern
round the moonlit globe—
you won’t find that land in
any space you probe.

Emptied like a cup or
saucer: bottom shows.
If your house is toppled,
where’s your home? God knows.

Pick another country—
go be born anew!
But you end up mounting
the very horse that threw

you off its saddle.
(Didn’t break your neck?)
Beg all you like—who’d hand a
crust to such a wreck?

No carpenter would offer
her a coffin, even.
That country of unnumbered
versts, kingdoms of heaven—

realm whose coins all carry
imprints of my youth—
that Russia is long buried.

. . . That me—she’s buried too.



The age doesn’t care for
the poet—and I don’t care for the age.
I pay no mind to its thunder,
its alien noise and rage.

If the age doesn’t care for its forebears,
its progeny doesn’t concern me.
My age—my poison and torture—
my foe—my inferno.

A Message from the Editors

Your donation sustains our efforts to inspire joyous rediscoveries.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 40 Number 8, on page 46
Copyright © 2023 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com