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When I was a child, I wandered

the lip of a hole in the earth.

Overhead, the black web of electrical wires

hummed with a subdermal vibration,

The quiet sound of grinding teeth.

(breathed in and out—)


I was tightrope walker, circus freak, sparrow on a string.

So careful not to trip on the unearthed pipes,

glinting like iron-capped teeth in that black, yawning jaw;

Blackened like the black dirt, the soil of the little city.


(Dirty, shitty, poor city; gutted remains of the USSR.

And the fortune tellers said it had no future, that little city

– Leave now! Move away!)


The surrounding countryside was farms,

And ghosts wandering the desiccated corpse of the yellow steppes,

In all directions, stretched like the hide of a drum.

And when the black rain fell, it beat a tattoo on that sad land;

the echo of horse hooves.


Under my feet,

that damned hole was an empty eye in the earth,

Just watching the sky.