[ In Crimia, he gathered together rich 'liberals' and said to them strictly: On Judgement Day, if you are asked whether you understood the poet Osip Mandelstam: say no. Have you fed him? - You must answer yes.]
I am reading aloud the book of my life on earth
and confess, I loved grapefruit.
In a kitchen : sausages : tasting vodka,
the men raise their cups.
A boy in a white shirt, I dip my finger
into sweetness. Mother washes
behind my ears. And we speak of everything that does not come true,
which is to say ; it was August.
August! the light in the trees, full of fury. August
filling hands with language that tastes like smoke.
Noe, memory, pour some beer,
salt the rim of the glass; you
who are writing me, have what you want:
a golden coin, my tongue to put it under.
(The younger brother of a cloud,
he walks unshaven in dark-green pants.
In cathedrals : he falls on his knees: praying HAPPINESS!
His words on the floor are the skeletons of dead birds.)
I've loved, yes. Washed my hands. Spoke
of loyalty to the earth. Now death,
a loverboy, counts my fingers.
I escape and am caugth, escape again
and am caught, escape
and am caught: in this song,
the singer is a clay figure,
poetry is the self- I resist
the self. Elsewhere:
like a lost youth
whose churches, ships and guillotines
accelerate our lives.
ILYA KAMINSKY, from Musica Hamana