by: Anton Yakovlev
In these poems by Anton Yakovlev, the gods are among us but offer nothing by way of guidance. We still get lost in the vastness of the world, adrift, listening for the knowledge that a song only we can hear might bring to us: “the nothing of the sea and the everything of the nothing.”
The vistas are visible for miles.
Your curls form letters,
happenstance labyrinths of cursive.
Mahler’s Earth Songs play on the radio.
Soon, ocean waves will turn saber.
Skulls will fill with their foam.
A couple of tables away, Chronos dines alone.
Outside the café, horses on leave from Minotaur’s posse
understand love much better than you might think.
We speak of the elegant way
doves hold lanterns in some historic downtowns,
your local Hercules who dips locusts in his mojitos,
the umbrellas of bareback coquettes,
the inexplicable sadness of noon,
the prestige of waterfalls,
the surging of ambrosial musical instruments,
my collection of dead lake snapshots,
your harbor’s oversea shipments,
the garbage in our dictionaries,
our old days, our funny antiques,
our funny religions, our funny grizzly bears,
our century-long vigils, our too-cute minivan,
the telescope we used as a shovel,
the places we won’t visit together,
the nothing of the sea and the everything of the nothing,
the salamanders who squeal, the chickens who see in azure,
the laid-off orchestra members who find bizarre flutes to master,
the people we’ll have to meet,
the gods who misplace their business,
the headless impersonations of Albrecht Dürer.
Ocean waves are full of headless impersonations.
On his way back from the bathroom,
Chronos stops at our table and yaks
about his plan to build an escalator
in the middle of a nearby vineyard.
You blink once.
THE MAN WHO REMIXED YOUR SOUL
I walked with you through Washington Square Park
transmitting the voice of God but you didn’t notice
I set fire to the orange in your Manhattan
but all you wanted was to change the station
I called myself your life’s signature oasis
but you drowned me in static
So then I buried myself in a potter’s field
and you wouldn’t stop spinning requiems
My ears had loved you even in your past life
but you jumped to the next track and got lost
By the time you came back the man who remixed
your soul had gotten permanently stoned
These days I try to spot you in every park
but the voice of God is all I hear
Anton Yakovlev’s latest collection is Ordinary Impalers (Kelsay Books, 2017). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Hopkins Review, Amarillo Bay, Prelude, Measure, and elsewhere. The Last Poet of the Village, a book of translations of poetry by Sergei Esenin, is forthcoming from Sensitive Skin Books. He is the current Education Director at the Bowery Poetry Club. He has also written and directed several short films.