29 January 2010

grapefruit juice

I was one of them.

Summer dresses and bottles of cider in a park,
oversized sunglasses and as many close friends as new faces.
I wore patterned blouses and the brightest blue jeans
and sometimes even funny animal ears or strange make up, twisting
around a washing-line may pole, stoned with hispanics.
I wore tiny shorts with gold ballet slippers in Warsaw when I was chasing
a boy in the tightest black jeans to a jazz club and I had a bottle of pink grapefruit juice under my arm. The summer air and Stalin's towers watching me dance over cars.
They all look like strangers now. Insects before a great frost, they writhe around in pollen, overgrown and  unsure if they are with the right one or if they are too old to wear that or to wake up drunk with a 22 year old. All of their fears are closely guarded, they ride their bikes down to the pub in playsuits. They talk a bit about art or someone's cocktail ring... they wake up drunk, they watch a vampire series, they get marked on their appearance, they drink pinot with dinner now because it's hot. The hole in their culture is too big to fill with chitter chatter and they get this and turn to Buddhism for a bit, or go to Thailand to soak up sun with a twist of asian culture. They contemplate India before realising they are just consumer cosmopolitans and not at all like the ancient Athenians and they're all washed up in a dreamtime and will only wake up as grey as their parents.

28 January 2010

and a stone word fell

And a stone word fell
on my still living breast
It's alright, I was ready
I'll deal with it somehow.
Today I have a lot to do:
Need to kill memory to its end,
Need the soul to harden
Need to learn to live again.
And not... the hot rustle of summer
As if there is a holiday beyond my window
I long since had a presentiment of this
Bright day and deserted house.

1939
Anna Akhmatova

(on the go translation)

27 January 2010

white peonies

white peonies, aqua glass jug
in a sun filled lounge,
I'm new again
hope puffs the lungs
like a mama bird,
I'm new at this feeling

all are an unbroken line
to the end and beginning
of humanity
yet we begin with such small steps

varia karipoff 2010

12 January 2010

in the old times...


She was Queen of Harbin, with hair down to the small of her back in an auburn plait. She was not like a Russian girl or a Chinese one. She was at once petite but also long limbed, with narrow hips and a sort of wiriness that might have looked better on a boy. Every year they would choose the prettiest girl of the city as part of summer festivities by the river. While the other girls fretted over their hems tattering on the bull rushes she wore her brother's pants held up with old rope. They chose her as Princess of the Songhua River that year as she stood to the side of a pavilion in her brother's pants. They took a photograph which her mother later saw and laughed at heartily. They weren't land owners anymore and they left their factory in Siberia to the proletariat after being tipped off by loyal workers. The old country was deeply entrenched into their conciousness, more so by the violent nature in which it had made exiles of them. They lived in a smokey flat above a furniture store on Main Street, the proprietor was a Chinaman who Yulia sometimes spent the afternoon with, playing Mahjong and smoking hand rolled cigarettes.While 1930's Shanghai was a pleasure den for expats and exiles, Harbin was a sleepier northern cousin.

05 January 2010

Cherry Orchard



Watching far too much television this summer, my current guilty secret is Carniv├ále. Quite risque viewing for some (what do you expect from HBO?), but it's all about the atmosphere, the sumptuous set design, the evocation of a bygone era and much maligned tradespeople - carnies. As the carnival rolls into yet another dust bowl town in Texas, I stretch out on couch-bed with a fan strategically directed to sweep across  from head to toes. Sort of blissful way to spend evenings since I'm all baba-like these days. I'm comatose by 9pm and have the most fitful dreams ever when I finally get to sleep. Polar bears chasing me down ravines, crashing a car into an ice shelf, running away from a pedophile. Honestly. I should keep a dream diary, you couldn't come up with half that shite on acid and a 3 week stint in the jungle as a Viet Cong.

Russian Christmas is upon us, I've got my brown paper to tie up all the packages with string here.