Matvei Yankelevich

Matvei Yankelevich’s books and chapbooks include Boris by the Sea (Octopus Books), The Present Work (Palm Press), The Nature Poetry of Matvei Yankelevich (Knock-Off) and Writing in the Margin (Loudmouth Collective). His writing has appeared in Action Yes!, Boston Review, Big Bell, Damn the Caesars, Fence, Open City, Tantalum, Typo, Wobbling Roof, Zen Monster, and others. His translations from Russian have cropped up in Calque, Circumference, Harpers, New American Writing, Poetry, and the New Yorker and in some anthologies. His translations of Daniil Kharms were collected in Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms (Ardis/Overlook). He edited a portfolio of Contemporary Russian Poetry and Poetics for the magazine Aufgabe (No. 8, Fall 2009).

WANDA (a typewriter portrait)

Writing about you is
don’t say that – a little
intimidating, knowing your own
poems. The World is a matchmaker,
anyone, but specifically someone, would want
to meet your poems. And your eyes
notice what his ears have seen, finally
introduced, after all the readings, parties, screenings,
after all those dates in the calendar
marked orange—and so it happens that
a complement emerges from the crowd,
you forgot the punch line again, anyway,
who cares about punch lines when
there are so many great details, like dimples,
like birds, and things, all things going, gone
you’ve got the mitt to catch them before they roll
off the line,
the tongue which finds itself
tied to a park, keep it—what you’ve found,
then lose it, finally, to take on

you read—and the reel spins
out the door.

MARISOL (a typewriter portrait)

Marisol, dear,
you look great even with
this ailment that         nibbles you
like regretful bunnies
I hope it goes away
you’ve got to shake it so that
           we can break the beaches

your old self is wandering
the wet sand, and you look
back with a grin, which wrinkles
your nose, and did you
know that ever since
we met, I’ve thought of you
as Cardamom, well, at least part
of the time

You could be an astronaut
for all I know and fly with
the scaly birds of Andromeda
to far away paintings.

The clock ticks from 8 on
and makes like ants in your
small hand
full of tiny jewels
from the street of summer,

idle, idle, white sun,
you are full of little jewels, which
you kindly mistake for losses, holes,
blank suns, idle, idle suns

let me see what you can, and maybe
then I can make a portrait of
your inner chair.

The Same After

as before

it’s no time now

like it was the middle

of anything you could say

interrupted by punctuality, round figures

curled to a comma,

combed to cup and saucer,

line rolled to period

thumb to margin, time to parentheses

more where that yes came from, yes

or: she said she said by the seashore

hey, I’m not done yet

we have yet to perfect

the chiasmus of bodies

but I have to go

don’t you wish we could hear

the church bells ringing in the yard?

but we do! on the hour!