Statement of Record

Four Poems by Anton Yakovlev

F

AT THE AIRPORT HOTEL

I kept passing my hand on the velvet comforter.

Nothing in the room had come from a grave.

It was dusk, and the statue of Edward Snowden
was working overtime to track the deletions
in my last email to you.

All those words I had refused.

They were all on the bed now, slowly
crawling off the edges,
stinging our bare feet.

And we sat on the corners
facing in opposite directions.

We could already hear the bulldozers.

AN EXERCISE IN DYING

Turned on your favorite gull for how cowardly it devoured.
And you used to pay money for those politicians!

Dust looked more and more like a companion.
Your vacuum worked backwards in your closet.

You circled the campus looking for your own brain
needed to teach your next class, found a dirty old man instead.

This is why they named you Rubik’s Cube
and carnivores fly away from your Hallmark plates.

One man’s useless sex is another gull’s revelation
walking your guilt on a leash in your local guilt park,

taking the tram all over town, gooseberries in tow,
flirting with tyranny. It’s time to move on.

Your house has no more clothes. A waltz kills you.
Soldiers propel themselves in a children’s playground.

That bush with the bill of a duck seriously haunts you.
Turns out that’s where everything started.

INVASIVE SPECIES

When your ship arrives in Tristan da Cunha,
don’t curl into a fetal position
on your bunk. That colossus you spotted
in the shore weeds is not yours
to stone, is not anyone’s to stone.
You won’t inconvenience him with death.

When you recoil from your own welcome party
expecting to be ritually sacrificed,
don’t. They’ve already rolled crepes for you.

Every moon that flirts with your eyes
clicks and tap dances on the edge of aubade,
ready to turn you into a getaway Oldsmobile
on hissing tires. For every hot chocolate you relish,
the cocoa at the bottom of your cup
forms into a quivering metropolis,
and trees just keep falling into it.

When you become Rapunzel—and I hope that day comes—
don’t cut that famous hair just because a spider
is hopelessly tangled in it. Let him fucking die
if that’s what it comes down to. It’s him or you.
Be selfish for once. Break dance.
Maybe he’ll fall out. Answer
the letters prophesied in his Russian lore,
then answer all your other letters as well.

The flower vendor at the exit ramp
is waving roses someone will buy for you
sometime between now and the end of the next cold war.
Become the ill-fitting willow all painters paint.

And when Tristan da Cunha’s undiscovered grottos
call to you, don’t skimp on photoshoppable pictures.
The eels that skitter out of the dead cow’s eyes
didn’t come on these shores just to tell you to go away.
Be the invasive species welcomed to its new home.
It’s not your side the soldiers are looking to spear.

SLIDE

The waiters make no eye contact.
He sits at the window, multitasking between
poor Wi-Fi and late September.
Outside, a group of theologians
is walking uphill toward a cross. Jesus sprints
up the ramp off Union Avenue. Down the same hill,
rocks are spray painted to spell out RESIST.
He wonders whose basement the paint came from
and if there’s mold in it. A deer lunges at a corgi,
who bites the deer’s leg and won’t let go.

Finishing his pork roll, he gets back in his car.
By the time it’s dark, he will be over a hundred miles
from the nearest gas station, and though he knows the crop circles
will still look like his dead friend’s eyes,
he won’t be able to call anyone and tell them.
He’s on cruise control. No music.
Inaccurate memories flutter.
Behind him, mistakes time out.
An open grave up ahead.
He won’t climb into it. He’ll just think of the time
his friend gave him a pineapple
then took it back. That’s enough.

About the author

Anton Yakovlev is the author of poetry chapbooks Ordinary Impalers (Aldrich Press, 2017), The Ghost of Grant Wood (Finishing Line Press, 2015), and Neptune Court (The Operating System, 2015). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Hopkins Review, Prelude, Measure, Amarillo Bay, The Stockholm Review of Literature, and elsewhere. The Last Poet of the Village, a book of translations of poetry by Sergei Esenin, is forthcoming from Sensitive Skin Books. He is the current Education Director at Bowery Poetry Club. He has also written and directed several short films.

Statement of Record