Five Poems by Anton Yakovlev

I Hope You’re Wonderful

These days, if I make my bed, I see your heart

untucking itself from my pillow and falling out

onto the defunct horse farm I only pretended to own

 

when you were around. Our respective continents

drift past each other in a planet of blood. You were

too beautiful to wear anything, and so you took off

 

my sunglasses. Now I live in the blinding weather

your eyes were two years ago. Would that they were a cloud.

Would that you were a self-conscious clown,

 

a slumped ambassador from the reticent side of the wall.

I wave at you with an irresponsible grin. Your hologram

waves back at me from a New England cranberry bog,

 

the only place where things made sense to you for a time.

On the world’s worst mountain, they still remember

the quickness of your eyes scanning the graves

 

of the almost-successful climbers. A mere outline of a man

climbed alongside you, lighter than a day off.

Later, when you whispered despair to me in the car,

 

love fell out of my ear into our shared coffee.

You climbed your ladder high enough

to see us both in the coffin.

 

None of this really matters.

Your shadows sprinkle the desert.

I never asked you the questions you were convinced

 

I swatted you with, never fitted my truck with trinkets of you.

Revisiting all the places we had tucked each other in,

I keep my hazard lights on. You wouldn’t want to

 

talk to me, anyway. I don’t care to meet

the horrid bird you plan to become this year.

I never thought of our intertwined fingers

 

as a ladder to anything other than ourselves.

 

He Takes His Coffee With No Half & Half

That shirt she wore the night he saw her with

that other man hangs on their kitchen chair

like mold on an archaic torso’s plinth:

“Until you change your life, I’m always there!”

 

She makes him deviled eggs and bubble tea,

spreads almost-butter on his salty toast.

Even her scowl is lovelier to see

than his own face last year, when he was lost,

 

when he equivocated every word,

smashed china every time she disappeared.

Now he’s still dying, but he isn’t bored.

He takes luxurious time brushing his beard.

 

He goes to work and doesn’t stab himself.

He drives his car not into other cars.

He knows there is no God. Is there a hell?

He leaves that to the Sgt. Pepper hearts.

 

He’s still the man. He’ll prove it to his wife.

Soon she’ll stop not coming home till four.

She’ll sit down next to him, remove his “Life

Is Good” T-shirt, and throw him on the floor.


After

We board the ferry with nothing further to hide

 

A passing truck means everything to someone

 

The ferryman of death stands by in his coma

 

Albatrosses hang everywhere

 

We spoke through tremors

 

You ate from the sky’s dead hands

 

Now fortunes hang in lanterns

 

Humans walk around without language

 

I fall asleep on the headstone of your hypocrisy


I’ve Sat on This Perch for Decades, and Now It’s Time to Get Up

I told him it wasn’t me bending into the world.

He was too busy rolling his eyes to hear.

He was a demolished movie theater

gone slightly radioactive. All the park benches were empty,

and all the road kill had been cleared away.

 

We ignore the dim bespectacled eyes. One day,

the departed play poker on their own monuments:

A haircut that looked like a pie. A scholar who stood

on his head. The eagle burrows into the center

of the earth and gets stuck there, victim of gravity.

 

But even after the militants destroy the statue

tears of blood appear every morning under

the empty pedestal. The poets with varicose veins

pirouette around the fire. The fall foliage is so seductive

in the glow. Dogs tap dance. Rearview mirrors reflect no past.

 

Lighthouses broadcast koans. More flash photography.

Temporary anathema. Mountains in the shapes

of missed handshakes. All the rotten bodies. Take your

boredom, sculpt a soulmate. You don’t know what’s hiding

beside the theatrical highway you drove all night.


To Remain Human

When the song ends and the light hits you, fall on the floor

and recall the way you laughed for hours the first time

I held you. I told the artist about your smile,

and he sketched the shadows under your eyes.

 

The last ice cream I bought you was left behind

on the bench for raccoons that never showed up.

And then the rain went on into the next month,

soaking the abstract paintings on the porch.

 

And all the cushions are covered with pictures of houses.

Humans spill out of their windows, roll down the slopes

and into the sun. An eclipse is coming.

Gestures turn to elegy in the dark.

Born in Moscow, Russia, Anton Yakovlev is a graduate of Harvard University currently living in the New York metropolitan area. His latest chapbook, Chronos Dines Alone, winner of the James Tate Poetry Prize 2018, was published by SurVision Books. He is also the author of Ordinary Impalers (Kelsay Books, 2017) and two prior chapbooks. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Hopkins Review, Measure, Amarillo Bay, and elsewhere. The Last Poet of the Village, a book of translations of poetry by Sergei Yesenin, is forthcoming from Sensitive Skin Books.