A Poem by Matvei Yankelevich
Struggle with the orange juice
container. Lack of voice to ask
for assistance. Perception
of one’s hands, one, then the other;
the same? Sensation of dryness–
outside. Inside, something like
dryness, but swollen. Act
of imagination involving
other possible outcomes,
sets of ulterior movements.
Reevaluation of motives
in the act of choice. Clarification
of moral positions. Justification
of chance events through assertion
of bitter life lessons. Biting
of lips and dry parts
of fingers, close to the hard
nails. Relaxation of muscles,
the eyes. Cessation of outward
gaze. Decision to look around.
Olfactory intake of coffee
essence. Desire not to repeat
a move, desire to leave
the closed system. Of the choice
(the black and white squares).
of the textures of things in
nearby vicinity, indifferent
identification of these things.
of how few others will actually
arrive at the same destination.
Solace in the choice to accept
the chance collection of those
others. Difficulty accepting as solace
this. Sadness as indifferent
observation of sky or fabrics
resembling sky. Proximity
of sky despite its distance. Distance
of others in spite of proximity,
and even indifference at this
distance. Slow and steady
assertion of belief in actual
surroundings as only truth.
Learning of life’s lessons (even
still) especially unpleasant (as
concept). Concepts—other concepts—
arising as appealing over
and above hands and deeds, above
words even. Still, slowly descending
from spheres to hands, and
the searching for other hands,
to replace these. Still hope
of mutual choice in joining of hands.
Faithlessness in ability to fully
deserve faith, to deserve hands,
or proximity of sky, or hands.
Desire to be not judged. Desire
to be unconceptual. Not to respect,
dread of repetition. Struggle between
hands and the orange juice
container resembling other
banal struggles, not more
meaningful for this resemblance,
however. Possibility of doing
something if only accomplished
by resignation to the non-contravertability
of emotionally truthful action.
Such action not ever degrading,
no matter consists of what. Desire
of emotionally truthful action. Desire
of orange juice. Desire
of assistance by hands.
Matvei Yankelevich is the author of Boris by the Sea (Octopus), and several chapbooks, including Bending at the Elbow, forthcoming from Minutes Books. His translations of the Russian writer Daniil Kharms were collected in Today I Wrote Nothing (Ardis/Overlook). He teaches at Columbia University School of the Arts and the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. He is a member of the volunteer editorial collective of Ugly Duckling Presse and a co-editor of 6×6 magazine.