• Язык:
    Английский (English)

My Readers

Мои читатели

An old tramp in Addis Ababa,
conqueror of many tribes,
sent me a black lance-bearer
bringing a greeting of my own poetry.
A lieutenant who runs gunboats
under enemy cannon
read me my poems, for a souvenir, one whole night
across the southern sea.
A man who shot the Tsar’s
ambassador, killed him in a crowd,
shook my hand,
thanked me for my poems.

Many of them, many of them—strong, vicious, gay,
killers of elephants, killers of people,
dead in deserts,
frozen at the edge of eternal ice—
as it should be, on this
strong, gay, vicious planet—
and they carry my poems in their saddlebags,
they read them in palm groves,
forget them on sinking ships.

They’re not insulted with sick nerves, in my poems,
not embarrassed by my heartfelt feelings,
not bored with pregnant hints
about what’s left in an egg when it’s eaten:
but when bullets whistle,
when waves crack in ships,
I teach them not to be afraid,
not to be afraid, and to do what must be done.

And when a beautiful woman,
the only woman in their world,
says: Not you, I don’t love you,
I teach them to smile
and leave and never come back.
And in their last hour,
when a red mist spreads across their eyes,
I’ll teach them how to remember
all their cruel, lovely lives, all
at once, and their country, loved and
strange, and how to stand in God’s
presence and speak simple, wise words,
and wait, calm, for His Judgment.

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Today I see your gaze is especially sad, / And your hands embracing your knees, especially thin. / Listen: far, far away on Lake Chad* / A slender giraffe is grazing. / / Bestowed with the luxury of harmonious grace, / Its skin is decorated in patterns, so magical / That only the shad...

Lake Chad

On mysterious Lake Chad / Among the ancient baobabs / Guided by majestic Arabs / The carved-out feluccas scud / Among the trees along the banks / And from foothills spread with green, / To terrible gods, the maidens chant, / Priestesses with ebony skin. / / I was the wife of a mig...

The Tale of the Kings

"We are the splendid and strong, / Youthful kings, who glide, / Like clouds high in the sky, / Above the mirage of the lands. / / With eternal songs and dances / We erect a new temple. / Let us be drunk with the purple / That surely will stream from its windows. / / A window to...


In barren halls and secluded corridors / Today merry maskers were amassing, / Today in parlors, variegated colors / Like mad whirlwinds, swept through, dancing. / / They snaked about beneath dragons and moons, / Chinese vases were tossed among them, / Torches flamed and lutes strings ...

The Suicide

You let go and breathe deep / With an expectancy of rest, / And for the last time you see / The wallpaper and the carpet. / / From the lip of the patterned goblet / The ruddy wine dribbles; / Painstakingly you wipe it / With a sponge made from coral. / / The shadow of a blush /...


Alongside the reeds of the sluggish Nile / Where birds and butterflies flit in the sun, / Lies the forgotten tomb’s rubble / Of a tyrannical and seductive Queen. / / The hazy night spreads deceptions, / White wisps of fog shift through the air / The moon is like a guilt-ridden s...