I spy a cloud spying on me
Drifting into my window
Elongating its head
Practically climbing inside
The rest of its body
Pulling it away


To Akhmatova

Anna Andreyevna, you haunt me
Born in my city once in June
From your lips and fingers
Elixir of truth to power
Too valuable not to burn
Mothers’ grief crafted in ink
Bores its way direct into my body
Gray, windy, tersely generous
A woman ill, a woman alone
The voice of a nation and a lover
Words made promise in lines
Pressing against stark buildings
Gates of wrought iron with chains
Losing, staying, bargaining
Witness to disappearing breaths
Meeting devil obliquely

Anna Andreyevna, my distant sister
I tip my pen to you and
Light this poem like a candle
Your shadow my flag

I am a little late with this, but here it is, on the occasion of 125th anniversary of Akhmatova’s birth on June 23.

Manifestations of the same theory

Nimble, I elude the lines
Veering in spaces between
With sinewy grace
Particle and wave just
As it is intended
I don’t knock down dogmas
Yours or mine — in my world
Black and white are but
Manifestations of the same theory

Smoking courage

I am smoking my courage
It settles in my lungs
And alveoli release it
To the custody of
My capillaries rushing it to
The pulmonary vein
(And this in itself scares me
Isn’t it arteries that
Deliver the goods, and
Veins are just for clean-up?)
Which dumps it into my left heart
But the pressure is too high
— My courage fails
To go beyond my
Aortic valve

Grief takes a walk

Grief puts on sunglasses
And combs its hair
And sharpens its teeth
Opens the door of its hovel
And takes itself for a
Long-overdue walk
It has left its cave
Its torch burning hot
In my throat and nose
It refuses to turn back

With every breath it gets bigger
Like an oversized balloon
Or one of those floaties
(My favorite is an orca)
That we see on Route 6A on
The Cape on the way to
Where the land spills into
A watery spectacle
Choreographed by
The lonely light house

Pushing it back is
Like playing whack-a-mole
Fruitless and tiresome
So I sit brought down by its gravity
As it wrings my last tear
And folds itself into my lap
And I pray and I pray over
My tea to become
An ocean that can hold this
Mischief so as not to
Get crushed under its

Quest for consistency

I am an interface
A membrane between
Never and eternity
Ephemera dressed up
In spider silk
Weaned off the milk
Of human kindness
Skin broken like
A ripe peach
Split for my own safety
Stubbornly searching for a
Unifying theory
That will not ensnare me
In its quest for