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from the November/December 2003 issue


to W. Woroczylski

behind my back - it seemed - were islands:

of  the terror-idea! -

as if a certain chill

was spread - for a year of this life:

were they places - I wondered - in pure form:

of mind and genius - of a certain illness? -

what did they mean?

Expectation of Blows:

or of iron - of yekhs:

now innate? -

the same - as

distant islands:

in the garden: of July freshness! . .  - and was it from nearby disaster

ever more clearly they were! . . they were:

as there - in their office! - where a feeble liquid:

seeming to penetrate

to the depth

of the race:

to the terrible fire! -

once dripped:

from beneath their dark-blue clothing


[yekh: shout of beaters]

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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