No. 4 & 5


Alexander Kushner  

Translated from the Russian by Alan Shaw  



A gospel of the jasmine bush can come,
With breath of rain, in twilight glowing white.
Amid the parklanes and mosquitos’ hum
It speaks to us no less than Matthew might.

So wet and white it is, so bright the clusters,
The wilding’s petals fly so at a touch,
You’re deaf and blind, if witness more of wonders
You need have put before you, than so much.

You’re deaf and blind, and seek the guilty one,
When you would wrong another readily.
But in your rage the bush will touch you soon,
And you will then begin to speak and see.


Van Gogh

Why does the vortex-like Van Gogh
Oppress me with vague anguish so?
How yellow his self-portrait is!
A bandage on his sickly ear,
Green-jacketed, old womanish there,
Why does he follow me with his eyes?

Why, in his midnight café, did he place
That servant with the vicious face?
Those bright billiards no one shoots?
Why is that heavy chair so stood
That, robbed of peace of mind for good,
You await the tears and tramp of boots?

Why are his treetops so windblown?
How come the doctor has been drawn
With that absurd twig in his hand?
Where, in that landscape all askew
It speeds without fare or baggage through,
Where is that empty carriage bound?



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