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from the November/December 2003 issue


to N. A.

in your presence even the toes

are as if they remembered!

and the mind more strongly

pierces our head

in your presence!

and together perhaps you are that



they drew out:

of one kind - in one mystery:

deposit of genius in flowers

and mind -

primal layer!

and all - in the presence of one that separates!

and just the same

even here:

as in the presence of the human -

oh it is risky to tell of it! -

in the presence of what is not spoken -

of such:

almost non-existent:

it almost whitens -

as if barely thought of

almost alone -

as if it barely is


The poems here date from the extremely fruitful first decade of his activity as a Russian poet. They were written in Moscow, where he was employed in the Mayakovsky museum to organize exhibitions of the Russian avant-garde artists of the early years of the twentieth century. At this time, he was part of a Moscow "underground" of poets, musicians and artists, all living in poverty and supporting one another in their attempts to create an independent art. None of these poems appeared in print in the Soviet Union until the late 1980s.

-Peter France

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