Yuri Tarnopolsky                                        ANTI-NOAH                                     poetry    MAIN PAGE

*** NEIGHBORHOOD   1996-1997  ***   Technos  2000-2001 ***  Bagatelles   2002 *** Misprints  2003 *** Anti-Noah  2004 ***            СРОКИ ДАВНОСТИ     Statute of limitations...(in Russian) 1971-1984 ***




Still worrying that the world will disappear

if I close my eyes,

I’m counting my chances.

Who wants what doesn’t exist

always gets what he wants

right in the empty hands.

Who does not want what exists

gets four whitewashed walls

and a bunk.


Who wants everything that exists

gets a little.

Who wants something unique

looks in the mirror.

I've learned

much more than I’ve earned.

The Cold January of 2004

Looking at the dead deserts

of the Moon and Mars

somebody still wants to go there:

the machines in our shops

and the machines in our minds

want to be tested.

The animal purpose is to live.

The human purpose is to live,

thinking about death,

thinking and tinkering and teasing

around death

in a game of outwitting.

The human nature, at the permanent war

with its live creations, is at peace

with the machines in our mind.

The cold winter is tickling us

with its murderous whiteness.

The machines amidst us spin

the future for their kin.


Monolog  on history

The past is a mineralized tree

but the ever-deciduous history is alive.

The new and the old are

the two sides of the moon.

We can see either one or the other

with a thin overlap.

If so, what’s new?

And what’s for sure

if history is the end of all beginnings?

In the end we always come to human nature

and further back to the unhuman nature,

its secret beginning,

its skeleton in our cupboard.

Not because I am a pessimist

but because I am taught

to look at the youngest forces

I see the future

coming with a bear trap.

Those who stand alone

We need dense crowds

compressed on small squares.

If one of us dies

they will prop him up standing.

We need the golf greens

to be seen from afar by crowds,

flaunting the scores

in the game of life.

The four walls are for lying down,

not for standing alone.

The edge vision

How to see everything

as if for the first time?

Or as if for the last time?

We see it first, knowing no name.

We see it last, smile, and say good-bye.

We see it as a memory, frown, and forget.

The trees are the peasants of the soil.

What are we?

Landlords of solitude.




I recognize the ancient world

in the modern scale of tax brackets

The numerous are below,

The few are above.

But the matchless ones

Are like the stepping-stones in the ford.

The small numbers help us cross the River.


The pyramid of numbers

is heavier than all stones of Egypt. 

I should be drawn to it in awe,

pulled like the ocean by the moon,

but  I can’t stop wondering:

what is the force of repulsion

that pushes me off the stairs?


Neither in the low many

nor in the high few,

but for different reasons.

And, oh, no, God forbid,

in the middle, where

I will be torn apart

by the civil war in my mind


We do not have the visible Things—

they have us

with the unflinching support

of all the invisible things in the world.

The only thing is for sure:

the relativity of to have.

Only to have not is absolute.


I feel the numbness

in my index finger

tired of counting numbers.

I am a singer of the uncountable

but of neither the infinity, nor the Trinity

nor the single index finger

pointing at me.


The former servant has his piece of land

He has his clapboard castle, horse,

and gold-and-diamond ring.

The only problem is that oats and gasoline

to feed his family and horse

come from the earth

created in six days

but not designed for six millennia.

-----  o  -----


Is it still possible to take a cosmic view

of the whirlworld

looking like a big hurricane?

No, there is no planet, no globe, and no high orbit.

We are tagged, labeled, barcoded,

entertained on the Ferris Wheel

of the material turnover.

Neither riot nor rot:


The wheel will bring us back to the ground.

Freedom is opium for people.

The Clock

As if not enough I have toyed

with the notion of time…

In the circular time

I'll restart my infancy void

in the hands of the grandfather’s clock,

till the time, growing annoyed,

drops me again like a rock.

With the fine

almost invisible line

writing my penultimate record.

In the end I will stop to drop

the dot of the ultimate second.

The Great White Egret

No way back to the time coves

where I was ashamed of my blunders

and—in my under of unders—

was ashamed of my shame!

I paid P.O.D* to each

Great White Egret

of regret.

*Pain on delivery.

Today, as a super-rich,

fed up with time, I have lost

all my sense of the cost.

The right looks like wrong

and the wrong like right:

I’m losing the measure of each.

Good night!

You, balanced, seasoned, poised people

and beaten, seasick, poisoned, people

and all somnolent, static, statusquoed, stagnant, and soporific

and stupefied by circumstances, circumspection, and circus,

buttonholed by banks and addicted to ads people

are safe regarding the most subversive of all dreams:

the adolescent dream of another life.

No, fighters and mercenaries, pro as well as contra.

fighters for fun, hunters, champions,

stags, stallions, and studs,

triumphant weight-losers and simply losers.

There is no place for dreamers

in the culture of success, excess,

and knowing precisely what you want.


While the present is shorter than ever

I am finally getting clever.

A diver into the newness,

stirring the surface layers

losing my ontology

to oncology,

I want to divest

part of my securities

and reinvest in the insecurities

and their stimulating tingle.

I want to mingle

with the past,

wincing at the seductive future

which will survive me

like my furniture.


To have? What for? One cannot buy

the quiet hours

when the thoughts start

their slow mating.

Even if the matter is as combinatorial

as an ice-cream parlor

or an All-You-Can-Eat.

You cannot have it all.

A completed thought is always beautiful,

as if carved in marble by Canova,

with its subject, predicate, and object

in the triple embrace.

But the struggling

hungry half-thoughts

revolt and plot:

to possess, to have.

You cannot have them.

You are all they can have.

Is the freedom of buying

sweeter than the freedom of crying?

The Clanguage

The clanguage is rising

from the dark waters of language

to serve the new history

of civilization

in its movement

from evilization

to e-vilization

The incontinental

canniballistic missiles

aim at the undecided

and unaffiliated


missing the band wagon.

Influenza of influence

requires immediate insanitation

of all the laptopless.

It is strictly required

and enforced to be wired.

The inundated youth

enters modern maternity

with the shopping badge:

“Youthful is useful.”

There is so much choice:

insulate and insinuate

insinulate  and insulinate.

We forget what it meant 

to incinerate.

Out of touch

I don’t belong to either R or D.

Not even to R&D.

Sorry, it would be a long story


I belong to real individuals

who eat in privacy their victuals

as the dividuals are passing


I’m afraid, I’m attached

to the ending, extinct, impending,

and nonexistent—too


With the incumbent common, normal,

whether casual or formal,

I am definitely out  of



The leaves disengage from he branches,

releasing energy in the cool air.

My soul absorbs and hoards it up

to knit winter sweaters

for my flu-catching but still barefoot


I still can wait and I can bear

while the words start sticking together

as water is freezing into snowflakes

and both are falling over my lair.

The trees with their peasant arms

the words with their false alarms

are numb of dread.

The words of winter

Are sons of winter

they only look like they are dead.



The Soda Can

They made me so hollow

and heartlessly thin

that I can spurt water

from pricks in my skin.

My soulful atoms

are cringing of shame,

detesting my body’s

cylindrical shape.

My eviscerated

aluminum flesh

has only one function

to cool and refresh.

They sent me a summons

to check and inspect.

I stood at the trial

like ugly insect.

I, man-made and painted,

pathetically cried:

“Bring me to the childhood

of my ore’s oxide!“

But “You were created!”

They growled from the right.

“No, you have evolved!”

The left wing denied.


Going out

If I will go out,

then dressed as a fish

gutted and scaled

and laid on a dish

patted in flour

flipped over fire

dripping the juices

of my desire.

No risen eyebrows:

I will be O.K.

I will be just right

as boneless filet.


The Face

Race: Yes. Mr. Yellow

You are a good fellow.

No Mr. Blue,

What you are I don’t have a clue.

Well, Mr. Black,

You won’t fall through the crack.

Ms. Green and Mr. Red

You better go to bed.

Hey, Mr. Newman

To be of A race is human.

My own race

surfaces on my face.


The Humants

The numbers without $

are like the noseless statues.

The noseless figure, even six-figured,

is disfigured.

The humants at the processing line,

toiling in the metabolism of numbers,

proudly display their aquiline

$$ and numbers.

Chewing on the data

is as sedative

as being productive

is seductive.

All the more, until

the future knocks on the door,

let’s celebrate our humanthill:

The future is as unthinkable

as Titanic was unsinkable.



When I was forced

to stay still when wanting to run

or to run when wanting to stand

I felt horsed.

When I was aroused

with the splendor of nature

and the grandeur of wealth

I felt moused.

When I  fantasized

of flying like birds

and swimming like fish

I felt elephantasized.



The upshot is that I am optimistic

about my pessimism

because of the pessymmetry

of half-empty and half-full.

But the bottom line is:

I am still pessimistic

about solving the optimystery

of half-full and half-empty.

-----  o -----

Allegro immoderato

A farewell to time

as tangy as lime

a farewell kiss

to all I still miss

good-bye silly norm

to work like a worm

see you silky skin

I’m no more your kin

bye anger and scorn

there’s nothing to mourn

there’s nothing to hate

I’m closing the gate.

The last times don’t last:

like food for the hungry

they go very fast.


The skeptical pessimist

could comfortably exist

if not for the danger

of being everybody’s stranger.

Thoughts, black like the seeds of papaya,

will never buy you

any piety

toward the healthy society.

Oh, complexity of functions

waits for you at every junction.

But by adding odds to odds,

we get even with gods.

I know, this attitude

is sensible,

but indefensible.

The chimes

The meaning and form swing


Prolonging life’s pleasures

and cutting on life’s pressures,

I ask no more:

“What for?”

While I am still conscious,

no more am I cautious.

I certainly shouldn’t

be overly prudent.

But a remorse

would make it even worse.

The wind rhymes

the two-tone chimes.

Mrs. N.E. Winter

She sends me her calling card:

with Mrs. N. E. Winter

printed on the whitest embossed paper

with rainy watermarks.

Whatever her maiden name was (Summer?),

remarried, she’s coming in her new glory,

wiping away the autumnal palette of colors.

She’ll watch me jumping the weather

waiting for my tumbling down

or dropping my twilight glass of life.

She’ll come to stay,

advertising the joys of sleep

but waking me up through the blankets

with her cold caressing fingers.

She’ll be writing me love notes

with the footprints of squirrels and cats.

In the morning I’ll shovel the nonsense

off my driveway.


The sound of glass keeps the glass in one piece

as the sound of the name keeps somebody alive.

The memory keeps the dead safe from rising,

waiting on for no danger of recognizing.

If falling into the abyss,

the ordinary has the cat’s chances to safely land.

What is unordinary? What we cannot understand.

What is ordinary? What we can survive.


Freedom, the lucky charm

from harm.

Faithful freedom,

Semper idem.

Freedom, indeed,

is my ultimate creed.

Freedom to choose

between the gander and the goose.

Freedom to raise or to fall

is guaranteed for all.

But freedom to rise is greater

in the elevator.

The mild December of 2004

The year, having discharged

all its snow and rain and blood

and water and fury and fire

and passions and blood and ballots

and blood and lies and follies

and lies and money and sermons,

and money and divorces and weddings,

is quietly dying

like the salmon after spawning.

We are burning the candles and money,

welcoming the new rain and snow

and blood and lies and follies

and money and clowns and money

and maybe more money.


On your voyage out of this flood

you are allowed, unlike Noah,

to take only one of each:

One strong desire

One secret dream

One true affection

And one affliction

for the end of the voyage.






Yuri Tarnopolsky                                                   POETRY

*** NEIGHBORHOOD   1996-1997  ***   Technos  2000-2001 ***  Bagatelles   2002 *** Misprints  2003 *** Anti-Noah  2004 ***            СРОКИ ДАВНОСТИ     Statute of limitations...(in Russian) 1971-1984 ***