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Letters to Yesenin #3


Last night, in a reaction to some new meds, all my joints exploded with a pain I can only describe as burning from within. I felt like shit and knew I wouldn't sleep, so I picked up Letters to Yesenin by Jim Harrison, a book I reread every year or so to remind myself to stay alive. Last night was the time; I grabbed it and a bunch of John Wieners (check out the new EPC page on Wieners) for my dark night of the soul. It's a great life-affirming read though every poem is more or less about suicide. I think this poem is from 1972 or 1973, as it describes events from the 1972 Olympics.


Letters to Yesenin
3
I wanted to feel exalted so I picked up
Doctor Zhivago again. But the newspaper was there
with the horrors of the Olympics, those dead and
perpetually martyred sons of David. I want to present
all Israelis with .357 magnums so that they are
never to be martyred again. I wanted to be exalted
so I picked up Doctor Zhivago again but the TV was on
with a movie about the sufferings of convicts in
the early history of Australia. But then the movie
was over and the level of the bourbon bottle was dropping
and I still wanted to be exalted lying there with
the book on my chest. I recalled Moscow but I could
not place dear Yuri, only you Yesenin, seeing the Kremlin
glitter and ripple like Asia. And when drunk you appeared
as some Bakst stage drawing, a slain Tartar. But that is
all ballet. And what a dance you had kicking your legs from
the rope–We all change our minds, Berryman said in Minnesota
halfway down the river. Villon said of the rope that my neck
will feel the weight of my ass. But I wanted to feel exalted
again and read the poems at the end of Doctor Zhivago and
just barely made it. Suicide. Beauty takes my courage
away this cold autumn evening. My year-old daughter's red
robe hangs from the doorknob shouting Stop.

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