Featured Poetry by Nina Kossman

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Poem Written During Australian Bushfires

 

Treasure of the world,
little animal boy,
you and you and you,
lone survivors,
wombats and kangaroos,
my love for you is so huge,
let it revive you,
let it give you rain,
let it give you green leaves,
thriving eucalyptus trees galore!
Singed koalas and wallabies;
although I rarely pray,
I pray for you now,
heal, breathe, eat, multiply,
teach us how to save you,
teach us how to live
so no fires can harm you ever.

Why should I belong to the species
that multiplies at your expense,
treasure of our world,
marvel of the far-away continent,
don’t die, little animal boy,
stay, be, teach us,
but don’t forgive us our cruel stupidity.
You hear me?
It’s your turn now:
stay and multiply,
outnumber us.
Live.

 

* * *

 

An angel who thought he was a spider said:

Hello happy rose.
My love is a spider.
My dog is a mouse.
I hear it bark.

Hello, hello spider.
You and the rose are wind.
Wind, wind. We won.
Who ever heard it bark?

I’ll go down the way of a rose.
I’ll switch from a song to a blue.
I’ll marry  a violet.
I’ll whine at the moon and cry.

I am a happy flower.
My name is Spider.
I eat whispers.
I drink the best.

I know an angel.
His name is Tom.
Tom-cat, Tom-cat,
God looks at me through your wings.
He wishes to help me whisper.

So many cats.
We angels hide in them.
We are not bats: we are cats.
We are not bad, not good.
We are last.
We sleep in the grass.
We know who you are.
You are a fool.
You are warm.
Your bones are skin.
Your skin has a look.
You look а bully.

–Bully yourself, you!

–We are Angels!

–Angels don’t flap their wings at cats.
Angels do not say meow.
Angels…  angels… God’s angles,
That’s what they are!
God folds them angly.

Don’t tell me you are an angel.
You are a dog.
Just like I am.
We are like little violets.
We fret and grow.
We like frog concerts.
Sometimes we look green.
Perhaps then, perhaps we are frogs…
We like green snow.
When we go for walks,
Mosquitoes bite us.
That’s good,
It shows that we’re not them.
Certainty is what makes an angel.
When it rains cats and dogs,

We sleep.

 

* * *

 

Time had no claim on him
and beauty had no hold:
in the dried-out backyards of the mind
his soul flowered and observed 
the sun setting early on the morning glories,
their petals closing for a day-long sleep,
the dark, arriving full of shadows, concealing
the flowers’ future in the opening leaves…
And who was he, to urge them to unfold,
if sleep was what they were meant for in this life, 
if their immortality came wrapped in somnolence,
when the air was made of witching words
and sprouted blue and purple petals
that folded into themselves and withered
before he had a chance to see them face to face?

 

* * *

 

Return to WordCity’s October 2020 issue…

 

Moscow born, Nina Kossman is a bilingual writer, poet, translator of Russian poetry, painter, and playwright. Her English short stories and poems have been published in US, Canadian and British journal. Her Russian poems and short stories have been published in major Russian literary journals. Among her published works are two books of poems in Russian and English, two volumes of translations of Marina Tsvetaeva’s poems, two collections of short stories, an anthology, Gods and Mortals: Modern Poems on Classical Myth, published by Oxford University Press, and a novel. Her new book of poems and translations has just been published. Her work has been translated into Greek, Japanese, Dutch, Russian, and Spanish. She received a UNESCO/PEN Short Story Award, an NEA fellowship, and grants from Foundation for Hellenic Culture, the Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, and Fundacion Valparaiso. She lives in New York.

 

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