the directions echoes can take

by strannikov

no Cadillac, no sticker, no mirror


rock and roll, when not sex and drugs,

when not money or cliché, was youth and hair:

twenty, losing both good and fast,

I let rock and roll down by its guitar strap.


sticking with it might have posed risks:

by eighteen I'd put down needles, coke, and stuff,

Demerol and Preludin all:

hardcore fashion twice is no encore to play.


did without guitar and amp both

for a decade and more, then nostalgia hit

the fingers not guiding their pens:

face it, a fretless bass can only sound smooth.


in its case its smoothness has slept

(I never had to spend for a hard-shell case)

now for over two entire years:

non-melodic my arrhythmia remains,


puncturing rhythms poor with prose.


Shalamov's solitary confinement in ice


his cell hacked out of Kolyma ice

Shalamov's senses slowed

hours of ice stalling sense

slowed smells

closed sounds

killed touch

froze taste

cheering the eyes or not

with no human in sight.

“solitary confinement in ice”

Shalamov's will inert

but indifferent cold—

nose froze

ears froze

feet froze

tongue burned

eyes awaiting fresh ice

with no human in sight.

commending Bunin, he wound up here

confined almost to the narrow cell

from a Ninth Circle his tour commenced.

the directions echoes can take


affecting affect, as if as is,

these trumpets don't blare, they purr

domesticating bliss.

the covers leak contents from within

stamping those covers so prett

exhales loose all the text.


toner seldom renders carpets clean,

on authority I've heard

what the color of clean.


mystery of surface is a wall,

its composition of “closed”

inscribed not from one side.


mountains don't sink, only oceans float

merriment atop their waves:

someone always must drown.


scanning horizons reveals the depths

underneath, the murk that lurks,

anglers' hooks squirm with bait.


(fish don't die, it's true, only on hooks,

but at other feeding times,

whenever glut looks good.)


memory: enliven it, or kill?

its repetitions are dull,

its novelties quite dead.


when our bodies solicit their words,

the demons curl coy in joy

at appetites of bliss.

(don't tell management you want to eat:

all you'll be given to gnaw—

menus and napkin rings.)

those other horns' bells all stuffed with mutes:

their soulful solos performed,

the emcee gets applause.


effecting effect, as if it were,

these microphones shout, they yell,

disconsoling, amiss.