(Almost) Russian Connection…

Decades ago, I met a woman at a bookstore in Philadelphia, to whom I was instantly attracted.   However, the budding coupe de amour was dashed when she told me she was engaged to be married.  I had forgotten about this “account” until I found it while purging paper files this weekend.   Since Russia is so much on our minds, I decided to share it.

Unlike my usual reaction – embarrassment and amusement – at poems of that time, I was still pleased at how this worked and how the lines from Mayakovsky’s poem were woven in.  Don’t misunderstand me: it’s still a small, not-even-pebble-shattering poem, more a mise-en-bouche than main course (or even appetizer!).  But it pleases me, and if you set your expectations on the low side, you might enjoy it.  I did!


Luba B.

 The italic lines in the first verse are from the poem Oblako v Shtanakh (The Cloud in Trousers) by Vladimir Mayakovsky, translated from the Russian.  “Gorko! Gorko!” Is a traditional Russian wedding toast urging the Bride and groom to kiss, thus making sweet the bitter in life (gorko).  “White nights” is the name for the very short hours of darkness during late June in St. Petersburg.

You swept in abruptly


You swept in abruptly

Like “take it or leave it!”

            (quietly, you had appeared)

Mauling your suede gloves

            (just “The Magus” in your hands)

You declared:

            (words an assassin’s blade)

“D’you know,

I’m getting married.”

            (“Gorko! Gorko!” I said,  as my lips

Tasted bitter air)

All right, marry then.

            (No, not yet!  Nyet!!)

So what.

I can take it.

As you see, I’m calm!

Like the pulse

Of a corpse.


I sit in the same brick patio,

A distant bird trills the same five notes

E’vry few seconds

E’vry few seconds

E’vry few seconds…

At two, the brunch had whirled anarchy round my eye,

Now, at six, all the stillness is outside my skin,

All the chaos, within.

(The cat on my lap licks my elbow and sleeps)


It’s Spring and Lady Chatterley’s lover

Runs her down in the forest and the rain

And the grass steam their backs in turn

E’vry few seconds,

E’vry few seconds,

But this is for all weathers and all seasons:

I am in love with you!

Even with White Nights

The days would still be brief:

What chance without them

To prove you this?

(The cat on my lap paws the air and dreams.)


I wake each morning asking:

“Is this a day or beginnings or endings?”..

Must I be Russian, too,

Prepared for both?


Our dreams swim the Neva

With hooks already in their mouths.

Come, fish with me!


(The cat on my lap taps a key and leaps.)


About Drachenfutter

It's all in my blog....
This entry was posted in poetry, Uncategorized, women. Bookmark the permalink.

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