from A Little Further from Heaven

Iya Kiva

little green lights

love—it’s a question of choice
or, as one E-burg poet said, an instance of total defeat
in the section on “Actual Problems of Erotica and Pornography”
they won’t write about it
in general not much is written about it
and what you’ve read and heard is the manual for dummies

make love to forty thousand sisters and brothers
stop making love to the most tender woman in the world
you won’t get smarter in a single fibromuscular organ
in fact, you’ll never become anyone worthy of love
but you already know that

all you can do is move towards spam
towards “I’m not the one losing my mind, but I got tired over the summer,”
towards “the subscriber isn’t connected, please try again later”
towards the electronic novel in seven hundred thousand characters
towards the forever more, always, and now block

and the green nimbus above your head on Facebook
is the carnival form of divine omnipresence
(green-eyed God, does this play in movie theaters where you are?)
it’s nothing more than the illusion of permissiveness made by light
if they cut off the power, with whom will we all talk

so we live with these rotten, cloudy optics
one person is “online” to another
one person is “chat” to another
(Skype’s calling)
and a typo


is there hot war in the tap
is there cold war in the tap
how is it that there’s absolutely no war
it was promised for after lunch
we saw the announcement with our own eyes
“war will arrive at fourteen hundred hours”

and it’s already three hours without war
six hours without war
what if there’s no war by the time night falls
we can’t do laundry without war
can’t make dinner
can’t drink tea plain without war

and it’s already eight days without war
we smell bad
our wives don’t want to lie in bed with us
the children have forgotten to smile and complain
why did we always think we’d never run out of war

let’s start, yes, let’s start visiting neighbors to borrow war
on the other side of our green park
start fearing to spill war in the road
start considering life without war a temporary hardship

in these parts it’s considered unnatural
if war doesn’t course through the pipes
into every house
into every throat


when they kill my father i dream
i’m surrounded
by uprooted trees
muddy waters

coming up to the very edge
of the second story balcony
one step more until its sepia embrace

and it’s really beautiful
like in a Tarkovsky film

and to the right
the earth rises in mountains
don’t even think of leaving the house

either you’re a raft
or a carpenter
reverse perspective

father father why hast thou forsaken me

translated from the Russian by Katherine E. Young