To the Russian Poets

 

 

If I write poetry thirty minutes a decade,
that's enough! if I write very quickly

filling hundreds of pages with If and Oops
but with other, nobler words as well,

like Poland and moustache, no job now,
fall by the wayside, bone
and finger, wisp,

so that I emerge an Iron Country
Iron Man, poet whose jaw is stronger

than Mayakovsky's, whose imagery
is quicker than Pasternak's, heart

more broken than Ahkmatova's and
whose shoes are whizzing more

than Khlebnikov's with their waving yellow laces.
Slavic poets of the great undertow,

you can smile now, it's snowing and cold
and empty and you're hungry again, almost starving.

 

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