At the first Starbucks in Moscow
I ordered a latte in Russian.
“What size?” the barista asked.
I told her I don’t speak English then said
“Grande,” rolling the r. “You speak Italian, then?”
She asked wryly, again in English.
The drink cost the equivalent of fifteen dollars.
Everyone was sitting around in sweaters
reading The New York Times between phone calls.
With a sharpie in hand, she asked my name.
“Vladimir,” I told her. She looked up
at me, smirked and wrote
American on the side of the cup. I told her
she’s a crook for charging so much.
She told me I’m a crook for paying so much.
for Charles Simic
if that’s what we’re doing, is the one where
the tortoise waddles home and, awfully late,
of course, is slated to give a motivational
speech at the local Knights of Columbus
chapter. He’s discouraged when Zeno,
drunk by the back water cooler, about dies
laughing at the prospect of finishing a race.
Today the lake is terribly watery
and the trees are made of wood.
At night the lightless fields reflect
the dark spots between stars.
Deep cries out to deep.
The sun seeks out our brightest.
The moon is not for us, and no one
has a word for the colored clouds.
The Lessons of the World
For A. Camus
For the one-hundredth, and certainly not
the last time, I stared at the mosquito
bite on my arm. A searching
stare, as if it were The Gospels
or an Escher painting.
The paramedics rushed past me
to attend to what I would later find
out was the last breath of a man in my building.
Two small birds visit me most
on the windowsill looking in,
but if I open the window they will fly. Believe
me. The lessons of the world
are few. In fact, there is only one.
But it is always right.
The State of My Heart
God and I share a small bed and I am dead
tired. In the silence, I think
of something funny
and can’t hold a laugh
back. Nothing, but
I must try
This is how we talk.
There are other beds, you know. I know.