Yuri Tarnopolsky                                            MISPRINTS                          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 ***







    The Snow

Who lives in the world of abstractions,

the indestructible Himalayas
of snows and mountains?
There life is defined through death
and death through eternity,
and eternity through instant.
No husband is defined through wife
neither is wife through husband,
nor love through hate.
There couples can embrace
no more than the parentheses,
all the more, beginning and end.
The young is not the non-old,
but the new. The old
is the melting.
Not man but the non-man
leaves his misprints
on the snow.
And the life below
sends up the flowers
of its vapors.


A box of buttons.

Cut off the old clothes.
The old zippers, hooks, and snaps
are discarded: they are functional.
But if the buttons are ornamental
it is only because they are twins:
come by dozens and make up a set
unlike another set.
(the buttonflies
have only even number of wing-holes)
Although I may be drawn to one
twinless butterfly,
my own claim for uniqueness
is not only pointless,
it is self-dewinging.


Poetry, like faith, makes no sense.

When life does not make any sense,
Nonsense nonsense makes sense.
No-pretence facing death makes sense,
Snubbing lifeís offence makes sense.
Faith, like poetry, is sense-
less. When life makes no sense,
burning incense makes no sense.
We donít exist in everybodyís absence.
Just a single presence makes sense.

Why all this gloom

Why all this gloom

in the life propped by insurance
and investment?
Because time is timeless
and bends and unbends
like the ancient farmer,
hoeing the furrow:
back and forth.
Time is a big pendulum.
We are on its way
and it always returns
as direct hit
in the face
or in the back of the head
I am just a misprinted Cyclops,
one of a few Cyclomen
with a frontal and an occipital eye.

But to tell the truthÖ

But to tell the truth,

It is because of the great solitude
that I pretend that I choose
snows and mountains
instead of shows and fountains.
At the height of life we dump stones
Down, into the valley.
At the bottom, we collect them,
not leaving a single stone unturned,
not a lonely and abandoned stone.
Ego is a great fun.
Long past paternity,
One may take up eternity.



        none of those
        who, with vacant stare,
        idiotic grimace,
        deaf to the world,
        in ecstatic trance,
        look inside themselves,
        hear voices,
        and hallucinateó
not a single poet
has changed the world!
Poetry is a huge blessing:
a wonderful waste of time:
and antireproduction.
The poet knows
he is better
and will not start a feud
to prove it.
Besides, the poet,
might desire
the neighborís wife,
but not his donkey.


I must stay alert.

I cannot fall asleep,
sink into reverie,
doze off, daydream.

I must remember who I am.

As soon as I relax,
I will become a stone
or turn into a mouse,
a monster, or even moss.

I have to stay awake
and trust the caffeine of fear
to guard me.

I must remember who I am
by chanting: ďI am notÖ
Önor frog, nor bat, nor mole,
nor tree, nor water, nor cloud...Ē

Every non-me is just a word.

Am I a word?
a whirlword?
or a  world?


Ask them to say shibboleth:
they will say shibbolet.

Ask them to say death:
they will say debt.

Ask them what do you mean?

We are born with a debt
to det,
and we have to pay

Is the loan interest-free?
Oh, no, life is big fun,
a huge shopping spree.

And your notable soul?
Doesnít play any role.


Words find each other so easy,
but meanings are rough and stubborn.
People are cautious and wary,
but loners are secret lovers.

Couples, the mismatched sneakers,
tied by their shoelaces,
are looking for their peers
also tied somewhere.


The future of the young has lots of either-or,
The future of the old is rich with nevermore.

The young, the avid, steaming from the mold,
Remember yesterday as promise of today.
The taste of history is for the very old.

The older past is proved by scars and welts
The younger past, like spring snow, falls and melts.

One is the crocks, the other potterís clay.


 Whether the body is convex.
 or concave,
 in the enclave of sex,
 with all the rave,
 we donít look
 for mysteries of life
 between the surface
 and the bare bones
 the secrets are lost
 in the hooks and ribbons
 and festoons
 knowledge dethrones
 life to cartoons
 to go deeper into anatomy
 is anathema.


The poems live while falling
from the tree to the ground,
responding to the timeís calling

The poems take frozen  forms
while the poets
become  humus,
digested by bookworms.

Is it possible to be posthumous?

Man and Woman

Here is an old Man,
with a  silver  mane.
Status quo
is his domain.

But the Woman is forever young
and she invents
new intents.

The feelings, as
simple as a summer dress,
contrast with intricate caress.

The glare of the bare,
like firearms or just arms,
plucks our harps.
But never harms.


As every child,
I stepped in through the portal.

When sent to life,
I traveled light,
with youth in my money belt.

I felt
the hard city sidewalks under my feet.
My steps echoed from the hard city walls.
The soft body beside me echoed the calls
of my endless thirst with a muffled tone.

But I was alone.

Lots to learn, lots to yearn.
The belt dried empty.
Youth is not to be earned.

I wanted to know what and why,
and take everything apart.
But artó
it is: how.

looking back,
I am glad it is over:
no encore.
No more
the black clouds hover.
The black underworld
does not exist.
Just for the fun of it
I can resist.


Past those cold-blooded
as good to lean on
as hard cold cash
with nothing between yes and no
with miles between you and me,

Past those hot-blooded
easy to fuse with
easy to break up with
shiny quick
but as heavy
as quicksilver,

Past those ill-blooded
one-way street
bottomless chasm
cantankerous when hungry,

finally among long forgiven.


Like the old knees feel the turn of the weather,
I feel the heavy clouds of events
about to hit me with a lightning.

I feel when the rotten ladder of hope
is about to give way under my foot.

I feel a sudden gash
in the causal net of connections around.

I feel when you are thinking about me
before clicking the Send button.

Iím thinking about you and you must feel it.
If you donít,
there are no mysteries in the world.


No love in history. Only greed and revenge.
No history in love. Only up and down.

No one has ever come to another land with love.
Except those who came with the hatred of theirs.

No one has ever loved anybody
If hateful of himself.

No one without hate has ever survived
the trial of survival.

No symmetry in the rough world:
all we can see is its profile.

The world does not turn the other cheek.

Blizzard of 2003

The grill on the porch
grows a white fox hat
over gray hair.

The surrender to waiting
turns the living room into an airport
under the blizzard of 2003.

The street is intelligently empty
as if everybody were listening
to Corelli on Public Radio.

White letters are falling on white paper
immediately rewritten
without any change of meaning.

Ode to February

February always ends.

the cold-blooded blanket
of floes
over the febrile urge for warmth.

slowly pushing its woes
toward the estuary
through the winter delta
jammed with the frozen forms.

The only time of the year
when the only wish is always granted
in spite of all reasonable norms:

February always ends.
Even sooner than we think.

Love of February
is part of my love of life.


I never liked history at school.

History was full of people,
was full of power,
full of death.

I shunned all that.
I had no past.
I was safe.

Now I like history as a story
full of hope,
full of futility,
and without end.

The world around is full of people,
the world is full of power,
full of death.

        Sorcererís Apprentice

I put the scattered books back on the shelf,
clean my desk,
and everything in the house takes an ordered form.
All the clocks and watches show the same time.
I find the lost key.

I spill some coffee, break a glass,
and all my files become jumbled,
and salt mixes with sugar,
and dreams with reality.
I have and have not.

    The Homeowner

Omnia mea mecum porto...
I look at my weightless backpack:
my past must have fallen like sort of
        beans through the holes
to mark the trail as if I could turn back.

I live in the no manís land: My Home.
The culture of glitter and gloss
        dumps on my lawn
some throwaway styrofoam
for my inventory of the loss.

The countless seekers of comfort,  hope
snake oil, and instant success
trudge in lines, bound by a rope,
        through numerical dunes,
dying of the thirst to possess.

I smile to them and send my Hi!
and wave from my  social   niche
        and go to the ocean
and honestly try
to catch an elusive wordfish.


Taking the middle road,
to confuciously elude
I saw in the middle a toad.

Should I pass it on the left?
On the right? As it seems,
the middle road also has a middle
and the extremes.


It eats itself
it eats its self

it saves its self
it saves itself

Taking Exit Nine

Left exit
from I-95 South.

There is my home.
All the way to the ocean.

The ocean
will be my home
when no exit left.


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