Five Poems
by Marina Blitshteyn

Influential Ghosts

dear mothers, dear daughters,
dear pen-pals,
fellow students, former
employees, professors,
educators in
general, dear somebody
else’s headache,
dear mistake
or accident, dear
wistful woman,
why so sad,
dear solitude,
dearly departed,
why your hand,
dear empathy,
dear nuanced
dear plight
of the advanced
dear single
for a partner,
dear partner,

                                                  I’m just so bored, Rachel
                                                  I confess I have no inner resources
                                                          other resources include:
                                                          my family
                                                          a woman’s body
                                                          an art v. love complex
                                                          particular sound



I live alone with my husband where we have
several cats and pieces of furniture
I live alone with my cats where we cuddle or
I live alone with my roommates
I have been working on my daylight hours
for 26 years now and hope to collect them
in a chapbook-length manuscript soon

My husband is a composite of ideas
I’ve been thinking about since high school
a sort of roman-a-clef—For my research
I have been reading feminist autobiographies
such as Madame Bovary, The Second Sex,
and The Golden Notebook, which is more
a story of myself than my husband could be

With this fellowship I will continue my work
on personal habits and further my studies
in the field of literary abstraction—
I am grateful for the imaginative capacity
I have been afforded thus far, and am eager
to join my colleagues in the advancement
of women in letters and the arts to date


I miss intimacy

—It’s hard to see yourself sometimes…

—What do you mean?

—Like having that view of yourself from the outside.

—Is that really seeing yourself?

—No maybe not, but it’s the way you’re
seen in the world.

—I have this theory about artists:
they can’t get too self-reflexive
or they get stuck.

—Paralysis of the will, I call it.

—Yeah maybe, or like a crippling anxiety.

—What’s even the difference?

—The desire to communicate.

—Is that depression?

—No, that’s the desire to communicate with yourself.



whatever selfhood acts here
               let it swim unselfishly
so all the earthly borders
               of the self not compromise
the heart there—so the fault
               of other selves don’t drown
or otherwise consume the self-same
               worries of the mind—
so that the self is kind enough
               to other selves in other bodies—
so that their personhoods are treasured
               like the self—and all its
complicated overwrought endeavors
               —so that the self is joyful
with the rest
                                                       like touching the stove
                                                                      not realizing that it’s hot
                                                       like a train rammed into my gut
                                                                      and I watched it happen
                                                       like a slow drown, a loud incision
                                                                      a precise disaster
                                                       with its own dark mind
                                                                      like an aware ecology
                                                       takes pleasure in my ends
                                                                      like it takes my surface first
                                                       and then an organ on the inside
                                                                      like it takes its toll and takes it
                                                       with a taste for taking and a flair
                                                                      for operating the device
                                                       a talent for the fake nice face
                                                                      aiming at me twice
                                                       and then once-over—like the whole
                                                                      affair is in alarm, the city
                                                       rings its bells and tells you
                                                                      there’s a toll here and a state
                                                       so full of vibrant colors
                                                                      it can bury you—

                                                                                               paper towel
                                                                                               red onions



sketch 4



                                        beautiful day, I’m in you
                                        like a man in me
                                        arrested by the beauty of it
                                        all that light
                                        and not a body big enough
                                        to wrest it from me




Marina Blitshteyn is the author of russian for lovers (argos books, 2011), her work has appeared in la fovea, fawlt, southword, and culturestrike, among others. She writes and teaches in nyc.

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by Marina Blitshteyn

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