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June 29, 2018 Poetry

Four Poems

Darin Ciccotelli

Four Poems photo


—after Osip Mandelstam

Rain drags its cage
through the neighborhood. You
see nothing but

trenches. Rusty shovels,
the alien rocks sprayed
like genitals.

You’re waiting for that
harness to be authenticated,
the commander that

goes into feeling—
flies peacefully to the
brink of who he

was and brings
back consent. Did you
want to breathe him

like a telephone?
Did you think you’d

understand how compulsion
beads his name, dancing
there forever?

Light, the chipped curb.
Topsoil milked beside

the pavement. How dare
you play him back numb,
without a dictator
straddling him.



—after Osip Mandelstam

I don’t really bless
them, the sheepdogs and
boiled chalk. I enter

far, far away from
Voronezh. Something has sped
along, blaspheming

anything it wants because
what it wants is boring—
the sun on a church.

Wet bread cramming
the mouth. Maybe I’ll
balance myself on a

crooked driveway, just
because. What I’m living isn’t
disaster. It also isn’t

anything to especially
care about. Certainly not like
Voronezh. Not him.

Not his dead,
yellow jaws tureening
beneath snow.



I was the reincarnation
of Osip Emilievich
Mandelstam, his voice
about to drop,

his hands scarred
with mulch.

Or I was talking to a boat.
I had Crimean wool
in the heart that had to

I lived in daily kowtowing,
jeans faded at the
knee. I was his attention
surgically obtained.

Or it was alive in me cloned,
which one of us says is

Russia the same wet
ball as New Jersey.

I gathered fish around
my spit. Officers marched
him off dead eventually.
It wasn’t at all like a
soundproofed home,

the way my own
voice had frustration
to it, the kiosk

of narrating myself
that way, wrapped
in a mother’s ascot or her
throwaway gloves.

I know as a comparison
this is wrong. I was just another
weed. I could not have
understood his punishment,

the snow palaced
on that brim of regular death.
I also needed options.

I saw us full—
the navel perfumed,
another nose crisp in
blood, the radio.

My whole childhood lived
in that last jacket,
his earth of complements.
I wasn’t anywhere.

I wasn’t even in his country—
parents obscene at
every exit of his



—after Osip Mandelstam

A few windows beg
the sunlight. This drink
with a hair in it,

this false grip
on a ladder. Because
what else can be

done besides waiting
absently? The mothers who
wear polyester pants,

their song is separated
from precautions. Water
tucked in cement.

The slightly crazed intertwining
of that argument
he has to have alone,

because she’s gone. The jaws
oil-splashed. Forehead lines muddling
her anger.

Mother, drag him in
front of strangers again.

Notice the gimp
as his arm recoils.


image: Laura Gill