Valzhyna Mort & Henri Cartier-Bresson, Postcoital

Hackensack, October, 2020

violent global apocalypse
aren’t you worried brr
the mirror ball

playing with the toddler
in the parking lot
so meaningless: music in the air

there is no belarusian
version of this poem

she turns the therapist to 11

we no longer think in color
there’s only cold
dark and not dark

the prism handles the rest
the first third and fifth course
are the cheapest white wine in secret

as if it were the edge of the universe
the far away thunder of a giant waterfall
but no ambush no sauce

it’s not like they have an option
who made their black-strap shoes
their blonde bobs and toned coats

the door remains the ink remains
the windows blown into sky-gone into bricked-over
in favor of what’s left out of frame

“The Sausage Master of Minsk” by August Kleinzahler

        I was sausage master of Minsk;
young girls brought parsley to my shop
and watched as I ground
coriander, garlic and calves’ hearts.

At harvest time they’d come with sheaves:
hags in babushkas, girls plump
as quail, wrapped in bright tunics,
switching the flanks of oxen.
Each to the other, beast and woman,
goggle-eyed at the market’s flow.

My art is that of my father:
even among stinking shepherds, bean-
brained as the flocks they tend, our
sausages are known. The old man
sits in back, ruined in his bones, a scold.

So it was my trade brought wealth.
My knuckles shone with lard, flecks
of summer savory clung to my palms.
My shop was pungent with spiced meat
and sweat: heat from my boiling pots,
my fretful labors with casings,
expertly stuffed. Fat women in shawls
muttered and swabbed their brows.
Kopeks made a racket on my tray.

But I would have none of marriage:
the eldest son, no boon,
even with the shop’s renown, was
I to my parents. Among mothers
with daughters, full-bottomed, shy,
I was a figure of scorn.

In that season when trade was a blur,
always, from the countryside, there was one,
half-formed, whose eyes, unlike
the haggling matrons’ squints, roamed
and sometimes found my own.
And of her I would inquire.
Before seed-time they always returned.

Tavern men speak freely of knives,
of this, of that. Call me a fool.
For in spring I would vanish
to the hills and in a week return,
drawn, remote, my hair mussed,
interlaced with fine, pubescent yarn.


Source: Kleinzahler, August. Live from the Hong Kong Nile Club: Poems : 1975-1990. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. Print.