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by Ilya Kaminsky

Ilya Kaminsky  |  Winter 2008  -  Number 212


To Live

To live, as the great book commands,
is to love. Such love is not enough! –

the heart needs a little foolishness!
So I fold the newspaper, make a hat.

I pretend to Sonya that I am the greatest poet
and she pretends to believe it—

my Sonya, her stories and her beautiful legs
her stories and legs that open other stories!

And I say: a human being
understands the universe: its music

makes us foolish. I see myself: a yellow raincoat,
a sandwich, a piece of tomato between my teeth

I raise my infant daughter to the sky—
I am singing as she pisses

(Old fool, my wife laughs)
on my forehead and my shoulders!

Tedna Street

On the balconies, sunlight, on poplars, sunlight, on our lips.

Today no one was shooting, there is just sunlight and sunlight.

A girl cuts her hair with imaginary scissors—

A girl in sunlight, a school in sunlight, a horse in sunlight.

A boy steals a pair of shoes from an arrogant man in sunlight.

I speak and I say sunlight falling inside us, sunlight.

When they shot fifty women on Tedna St.,

I sat down to write and tell you what I know:

A child learns the world by putting it in his mouth,

A boy becomes a man and a man earth.

Body, they blame you for all things and they

seek in the body what does not live in the body.

Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odessa, former USSR and arrived in the United States in 1993, when his family was granted asulym by the American government. He is the author of Dancing In Odessa which was awarded the Dorset Prize, Ruth Lilly Fellowship from Poetry magazine, Lannan Foundation Fellowship, Whiting Writers Award and American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Metcalf Award. It was named the Best Poetry Book of 2004 by ForeWord Magazine.

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