IN THE REVIEW

The Bust of Tiberius

All hail to you, two thousand years too late. I too once took a whore in marriage. We have some things in common. Plus, all round, your city. Bustle, shrieking traffic. Damp alleyways with hypodermic youths. Also, the ruins. I, a standard stranger, salute …

Verses on the Winter Campaign 1980

“The noonday heat, a vale in Dagestan….” —Michael Lermontov I A bullet’s velocity in low temperatures greatly depends on its target’s virtues, on its urge to warm up in the plaited muscles of the torso, in the neck’s webbed sinews. Stones lie flat like a …

Poem

For God’s sake, let me not go mad, far better beggar’s staff and plaid,    far better toil or hunger choose. But not that I would grimly cling to intellect as to a thing    I greatly fear to lose: Were I but left at …

The Russian God

Do you need an explanation what the Russian god can be? Here’s a rough approximation as the thing appears to me. God of snowstorms, god of potholes, every wretched road you’ve trod, coach-inns, cockroach haunts and rat holes, that’s him, that’s your …

December 24, 1971

When it’s Christmas we’re all of us magi. At the grocers’ all slipping and pushing. Where a tin of halva, coffee-flavored, is the cause of a human assault-wave by a crowd heavy-laden with parcels: each one his own king, his own camel. Nylon bags, carrier bags, cones of paper, caps …

Mexican Divertimento

for Octavio Paz CUERNAVACA 1 Beneath the tree where M., the Frenchmen’s pet, possessed his pearl of sluggish Indian blood, a poet sits, who’s come here from afar. The garden’s dense, like jewels closely set. A thrush, like eyebrows knit, departs for food. The evening …

Lithuanian Divertissement

To Tomas Ventslova 1. Introduction A modest little country by the sea. It has its snow, an airport, telephones, its Jews. A dictator’s brownstone villa. A statue of a bard is there as well, who once compared his country to his girl. The simile …