Saturday, March 21, 2009

And From the Best of Thirty Years Anniversary Issue of Watershed





The "Odessa Steps" scene from The Battleship Potemkin by Sergei Eisenstein (1925)

LETTERS TO YELTSIN

Sources today described Russian President Boris Yeltsin
as suffering from a colossal weariness.

-National Public Radio

1.

Word arrives in the steamy depths
of the American summer,
the torpor so general
I cannot rise from my couch.
I share your struggles, comrade.
My own weariness
is the prosecutor's vast troika,
the battleship Potemkin,
the weariness of Mandelstam,
the big beluga, it is
shall we say, humongous,
a heavyweight, major league, super-sized
forty ouncer, an Arch Deluxe,
a Double Whopper,
a big-mama kind of tired,
a hog-stomping, ass-thumping,
thunder-bumping lollapalooza.
It's the weariness of Jesus
watching Judas spill the salt,
the spent dime of Sonny Rollins
walking home at dawn,
the funky tired of James Brown
as he begins to moan,
it's the shot wad of Saddam,
heat-sought and laser-bombed
in the desert of his bunker,
it's the mother of all weariness,
plus-sized and full-figured, it is,
my friend,
every synonym for large.

2.

This fall, Boris Nikolayevitch,
meet me in Oslo,
where we shall take the steaming baths
of the Toyenbad, commiserate
over shots of Stolichnaya,
restore ourselves with samovars of tea
and quiet readings
from Akhmatova's Requiem.
In the declining light
of a November afternoon,
let us sit quietly in the Galleriat
and contemplate the works
of our comrade, Edvard Munch.
Consider your likeness to
the man in the blue window
of Night in Saint-Cloud,
of which Edvard said,
"For me, life is a window in a cell.
I shall never enter the promised land."
I am turning away from the lakefront
in his canvas Melancholy.
"The air is mild," Edvard wrote of it,
"it must be wonderful to love now."
To see our lives depicted
with such exquisite clarity!
Barely ruling your vast country,
me, guarding the boundaries
of my unruly heart.

-Greg Rappleye



Night in Saint-Cloud (1890)



Melancholy (1892)

4 Comments:

Blogger The Weaver of Grass said...

How have you managed to get such a Russian quality into this poem? Somehow even if you had left the names out - there is still a Russianness to it.

3:36 PM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:39 PM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...

Let's say I knew a few Russians before the days of Perestroika.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Collin Kelley said...

Brilliant.

7:32 PM  

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