Anton Yakovlev

Prelude

Properly labeled pill bottles sit in his console.
He juggles three or four pills, catches them with his mouth,
gulps soda, burps. Aspens by the road
are blindingly windless. He taps the gas pedal gently,
tests the brakes, the mirrors. A half-transparent woman
waves at him from the sidewalk. Contrails cross each other
like denial. Thieves swarm every intersection.
The attack dog behind an electric fence has no teeth
but will suck you to death. GoFundMe transferred a few
hundred dollars. Brutalist mansions feed
his eroticism. A near-topless arsonist joins him, briefly,
riding shotgun with her favorite Yankee Candle.
He remains realistic, knows he may not survive,
delivers a few cabbages to the homeless. Lush sands
of a sea-like lake give respite. Just a few more demons to go.
He knows he can make it if he doesn’t intentionally crash.
He’s come to terms with his own
resemblance to a cockroach, and that keeps him from acting out.
Rabid rats hop into the car, nibble his feet methodically.
Turkey vultures form a flying skull.
The dead by the road love company, and next time he drives
into sunrise, he will still shiver—but less.
He speed-dials the person he used to love
then tries for a long time to remember her face.
Low-hanging fruit falls through his moon roof.
Yes, he thinks, he will get through this.
He can see it now. He can see it. He apes the final moments
of the Cheshire Cat. Just give him a few more years.
He’ll get comfortable with the world’s persistent murder.
He’ll stand at the podium and quietly predict
a war. And the applause will grow louder.

The Cedar Creek

We steep tea and then we read about tea and then we steep it some more and then we read some more and there is just so much we need to say to each other. The moment you tell me the truth I fall in the cedar creek. It’s not my fault, nor is it yours, but now our neighborhood is not the same. We do not taste chocolate the same way. Can I forgive you? No, not really. Not at all. Go fall into a volcano. I’ll be the volcano. I’ll pick you up after the show trial.

I would have liked to linger on your face. I used to wait for you by the cedar creek. After all, plenty of scholars keep their careers alive with thoughts of you. You juggle torches even when people kiss you. I would have liked to nestle with your world, but a world can destroy a rowboat. A lifelong addict, you are now clean and a spy, but you ripple like a head-scratcher. The cedar creek keeps adjusting its watershed.

You no longer balk at decomposition. You compose a symphony to be played with metal hooks on dead things. You stand in front of the cedar creek and don’t reveal any secrets. You resort to Russian anti-Napoleonic strategies, which is to say you bravely choose to let Moscow burn. A general is wise to let the other general self-destruct.

I do. The leitmotifs come back. We argue and we clutch. We go to Jesus Christ and bite into the infinite bread. Will we ever move beyond our lack of cue balls? The cedar creek never did turn into wine. Your fear touches me like a bouncing night.

Everything Thrown Out         Except for Their Eyes

meeting across the river, not noticing the vomiting dog                      well, that’s the architecture

of love: steeples of inattention, pits of catharsis, coffins of hurry              these details mattered

to exactly zero mourning doves        later, they also noticed each other’s postures         the train

was delayed, or just never scheduled                                              so they took each other’s hand

the endless pounding of the clock broken at midnight                                                 the operatic

puppets grimaced wildly                                 dangerous books were getting burned in the most

beautiful square                        when the fire was done, one of the mandolinists forgot to leave

and was seen playing all through the night and into the next afternoon                        the wind

blew cinders into his nostrils                                           censors made snow angels in the ashes

he bought her half a flower but got distracted                a wasp pollinated it                next year

there will be millions of half-flowers                         nocturnal birds will be hired to weed them

Anton Yakovlev’s latest chapbook Chronos Dines Alone, winner of the James Tate Poetry Prize 2018, was published by SurVision Books. He is also the author of Ordinary Impalers (Kelsay Books, 2017) and two prior chapbooks. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Hopkins Review, Amarillo Bay, Measure, The Stockholm Review of Literature, and elsewhere. The Last Poet of the Village, a book of translations of poetry by Sergei Yesenin, is forthcoming in October, 2019 from Sensitive Skin Books.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom, winner of the 2017 Washington Prize, Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in such places as The Awl, Berkeley Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cimarron, Gargoyle, The Journal, New American Writing, The New Orleans Review, Prelude, Raritan, Seneca Review, So to Speak, Verse, Verse Daily, and VOLT.