Monthly Archives: April 2017

Money Poem


I hope I get a translation job this summer.


I hope I get a teaching job next year.

I hope I get a raise at work,

and benefits.


I hope I get a grant.

I hope I win a prize.

I hope I get a refund

on my taxes.



Alien Anthropology

I had a half-drunk conversation K., one of J.’s roommates, about our hometowns. I had a similar conversation on the balcony with S., who during his father’s military career, lived in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Georgia, among other states, before settling in southeastern New England. These conversations reminded me of the one I had at the punk show in the refurbished Providence Mill, with C. and the stick-thin gay man whose name escapes me, where we also discussed the places we lived and then remarked, in a metadiscursive fashion, on the popularity of personal geography as a topic of conversation between strangers as they locate one another in space and time. I’m from Rhode Island. I went to school in Minnesota. I’m moving to Russia in a couple of weeks. This information weighs more than descriptions of weather (which is also an affirmation of a common position in space and time) but it is still impersonal enough to be polite.


Moscow Episodes, part 1



Soon my new Moscow will stop being imaginary. I have already sensed this packing. I could feel Moscow in the clothes that had been there before as I got them ready to go back. It made me less excited. I fantasized less.



The apartment I live in here belongs to Lydia and will still belong to her after I leave Moscow and it is filled with her things. The décor is vintage 1970s Soviet spinster. Pros: It’s a real period piece, with genuine local color. Cons: It’s ugly and depressing.

Catalogue of décor:

A 1975 radio without a tuner. The model is called “Surprise” which made me wonder if it would choose a new station at random every night. But it only plays one, and on my first night it broadcast American jazz and blues.

A round pelt that I initially mistook for a slice of felled tree. Was it a beaver? Was it a moose? I think of it as the Mystery Muff.

There is a second, smaller Mystery Muff which at first glance seems less mysterious than the first because there is a cardboard silhouette of a sleek antlered mammal mid-leap. But the fur feels coarser than that of any deer I’ve ever patted. How coarse are elk? Do they graze in the former Soviet Union?

There’s a rotary phone, which I expected, having been to Russia before. But this one is the color of lemon sherbet.

A framed photocopy from a book of ancient Egyptian art.



Vladimir Yakovlevich tends to the apartment. When I asked if he’d always lived in Moscow, he readily shared that he was born in 1938 and got evacuated during the war, but his mother stayed behind to look after the family home. When he was three years old, a bomb fell on their two-story, wooden building, causing the building to catch fire and collapse, killing her.