Alexei Parshchikov



Walking on Stone Bridge
playing at star wars visions
I suddenly felt the air
tissue into whispered layers.
Albania will triumph in global battles,
departing toward the depths of another world,
the wobblings of fleeting ether
amplified, piercing me through.
Within frenzied swarms of multiplication
devoid of primordial zero
a point opened on Stone Bridge
from which I strode through a three-ruble note.

We have an intuition—the more than
of our very selves. Family of astral figures,
flaring up, snailing helices behind.
Money lacks a more than. Tempestuous hens
take the Dutch guilder on a stroll
along with the royal family busts—
as many hens as people need
strut about, pecking at eternity s eyes.
The bills are the trace of touch,
they could take the place of eyes, of ears.
Monies, to the State you're the same
as lateral line to a fish.

And I stepped off the bridge on the count of "three."
O golden freebie!
I fell from the inside of money
to the inside-out of money now.
There I strolled the gallery
and saw Presidents from behind
sitting, straighter than hafts,
peering out the windows of their bills.
I saw how easily they change
the world's scales from point zero.
And with a precision that ignites us
they tense like a bullet in a cage.

I understood that money was a sta-
tue jammed together by finger-people,
a passion-hot vacuum,
for Russians and foreigners alike.
Galloping on the final steed and growing brighter,
it stings people's faces,
yet not we, but our figures
of intuition combat it.
Like wind-up messiahs, they race across seas,
tacking nimbly between watermarks,
which darken bicarbonate ships
in sickening chasms.

These figures are not programmed.
They resemble: a stick striking
a light bulb; their traits:
in bondage they don't
create; they hide behind
the belted eight, ahead of
the speeding shell. Like a hole in the chest
they're not interchangeable.
Recorded in the Diamond Sutra,
they're the mere shadow of soul, barely etched.
While we bathe in the nacreous suds
of passivity, they pave our way.

The bills flew, skirting riches,
their shelf-ridges branched,
they appeared to me like tree-mushrooms
robbing the universe of its safe
transported by the horseman of the void, king of finances,
all the world's money on his back.
The Kremlin chimes struck twelve
and the horseman turned to me.
Rippling like a biker's leathers,
an Eagle Scout caught out behind the barn,
I heard his sibylline voice ascending:
Well, why are you stallin' over a three-ruble note?

Figures of intuition! They live
in the desert, their pupils pierced
by spikes. Their holy
communes sit high toward the source
of time's river. We have vistas and e-mail,
embraces and earth, and lightning in a bottle.
Death can't afford
what they have to sell.
They are three-year-old Mozarts.
It's night, the heights exacting, the yearning brute.
Now the figure of intuition grows more visible.
It walks alone from both ends of the bridge.

Lettuce-green three-spot, beet-red twenty
and jaundiced ten!
And I wanted to wander free of charge
in those clouds where nothing
resembles them, and where Cinzano still flows
in the Bar of the Beards,
and where our threesome, beneath lightning at Black Station,
is bound tighter than an atom of water.
But again the mimeo machine of People's Freedom
bated the dreams of teens, and the Pale Horse flew in,
has rash gallop so torn from the earth
that each leap was like a trigger squeeze.

The goal draws us on and traps in us
the cold larva of a second goal.
The future's spirit enthralls the eye:
comparing goals creates prices.
One bill admires itself in another, but not eye to eye,
and from the viewpoint of progress, it seems
to whisk my penniless fate
into a periscope curl. Nevertheless
the bills smell of leather and gasoline,
and if you sleep with an open mouth, they crawl in.
I walked around their property, like Osiris,
backside forward, to deceive them.

History is a sack, an abyss of money inside it.
But the sack has its history.
Who will draw it into a knot? Who will carry
these powerful centuries on a stick?
Where does the bearer go?
And does he know what a mirror is?
And a wheel? And where is his abode?
And how much did he pay for a jar of milk?
Could he have gotten lost or stopped
while I walked along Stone Bridge
and spent violet ink?
And who was a figure of intuition to whom?

Translated from the Russian by Michael Palmer with Darlene Reddaway