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This piece is about 9 printed pages long. It is copyright © Lev Rubinstein and Philip Metres and Jacket magazine 2008. See our [»»] Copyright notice. The Internet address of this page is http://jacketmagazine.com/36/rus-rubinstein-trb-metres.shtml
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Is there something?
Is there a problem?
Yes, it still remains.
The sea was choppy.
The moon shone.
The cat cried.
The north was lit up.
The child gets tired.
The ball bounces off.
The mind begins to rattle.
To remember, not dream.
A passerby washes his hands.
The spring grew weak.
The situation changes.
The shoelace lies.
The sick one gets better.
Everything disappears somewhere.
The dead don’t know what’s going on.
The benefits don’t yield any lessons.
Something nonetheless remains.
Any scumbag can point out something.
The whole first floor is empty.
A ghost can’t sing.
The pillow smells like fish.
From the beard begins the shiver.
The duck walks up and looks.
Something happens that is to hard to understand.
A stream makes us happy.
Bad weather doesn’t increase hopes.
I’m trying to forget.
There he is! There, see him?
Now look at him carefully. Have you looked? Good...
Do you hear how he breathes? Hear it? He’s agitated.
Now listen to what he’s saying? Do you understand? Good...
Hey, where is he?
Ah-hah! There he is! He was running.
He’s looking around in all directions.
Began to run again.
Turned the corner.
There. He stopped.
He’s thinking, thinking.
Oh — he’s running back. Well, go.
What has no aspirations to anything?
Water has no aspirations to anything.
What doesn’t strive upward?
Water doesn’t strive upward.
What is subject to reconsideration?
What is being done?
The mechanism is spontaneously exploring emerging and self-destructing communications.
What is there?
There the so-called “living zones of language” show signs of decay, while what had been sung to death long ago sprouted with sudden sticky leaves.
At certain times, what will we hear?
At times we’ll hear: “hey, come ’ere!”
What are we thinking?
We’re thinking: “Stop. Is it possible they’re calling us where there’s freedom and peace?”
Our portion is indivisible.
What is heavy?
Our burden is heavy.
What do you get when you put them together?
Together it goes: “Our portion is indivisible. Our burden is heavy.”
The one who dreams will be angelic beauty.
On the empty page lies a droplet of dew.
And then somewhat unexpectedly, it grew quiet, subsided, even the crying stopped. But no one made up their mind to look for him. And toward late night, he disappeared somewhere. We searched for him, but couldn’t find him.
What? Is that it?
Why is that it?
Lev Rubinstein graduated from the Moscow State Pedagogy Institute, and remained at the institute as a librarian. In the 1970s and 80s Rubinstein was an integral part of the Conceptualism movement, which helped reinvent the way Russian poets look at language. Much of his poetry uses the library index card as its main form. In the 1990s the Conceptualists were probably the most vibrant poetic movement left over from the Soviet Union, and many of the young poets in this anthology can be seen as the successors of Conceptualism. Today, Rubinstein works as a columnist for various papers and magazines. He is the recipient of the Andrei Bely Prize (1999). He has many books, including two bilingual editions: Here I am: Performance Poem (Northwestern University Press) and Catalogue of Comedic Novelties (Ugly Duckling Presse).