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Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to editor@pnreview.co.uk

This poem is taken from PN Review 251, Volume 46 Number 3, January - February 2020.

The Feeling Sonnets Eugene Ostashevsky
17.
This is my totter. This is my other totter.
They play at dress and redress.
They are princesses. They wear prints.          They wear prints out.
Out of what. Out of line. Out to what. Out to tatters.
They, hey. Hey do they speak.
They speak a speak. They speak a speak of mines and takes.
They speak a speak of ekes and keeps. They speak a speak of rates and tears.
They speak a speak I speak of not speaking. Hey.
My totter totters across the room. My other totter totters across the room.
My two totters totter across the room. They take a stance.
They take a stance by happenstance.
Totter, I am tot to you. I am that, other.
Totter, I am tot to you. I am that, other.
I am that other to my totters.


19.
The word ‘daughter’ is an element of basic vocabulary.
Like the word ‘hair’. Like the word ‘eye’. Like the word ‘ear’.
First I saw the top of her head, then her head. She made a face.
Then all of her came out.
I threw away her chocolate.
‘Chocolate’ is not an element of basic vocabulary.
It was bad to her teeth. It was making holes in them.
She hit me and scratched my arm. I felt bad.
She said she was a witch. I asked if she knew any spells.
‘Yes.’ Proudly. ‘A. B. C. D…’
Spelling also makes things come out so they exist.
I exist. You exist. She exists.
The word ‘exist’ is not an element of basic vocabulary. It came in from the outside.
But that’s alright. Let us let it stay here.


20.
BERLIN IS GREEN. It is made up of old growth and new growth.
A fire took place here, a conflagration.
It’s called conflagration because it started with flags.
A flag is a mark. If there’s a mark, there’s a market.
I come from the market, make dinner, and engage in struggle.
It is a struggle to get my daughters to sleep. They sleep on bunk beds.
The bunk beds are contemporary. They come from Ikea.
They were transported by trucks. My daughters are transported.
There is a herd of unicorns asleep on the rug below them. They come from developing countries.
Developing countries are also known as emerging markets.
In markets that are already developed, philosophers say that unicorns do not exist.
There’s only one step from the remarkable to the marketable, and the unicorns have taken it, object the people of emerging markets. (But the philosophers do not hear them.)
A marketing campaign at the airport says this city is ‘Done with Walls.’
A ring of barbed wire around the airport ensures safety.


21.
My daughters fall asleep on June fourth.
How does it make sense to say ‘rest in peace’ to the dead.
What do those words even mean, in or out of their order.
And who are you talking to, they have no ears.
My salt daughters fall asleep on June fourth.
They fall sleep in Berlin, also an evocative toponym.
The dead are perpetually unable to fall asleep.
How does it make sense to say the dead this or that.
How does it make sense to say they died for the future (now present as the present or absent) or that they didn’t.    
How does it make sense, a rondeau.
Behold, the tanks have turned into factory outlets. Behold, the bayonets have sprouted ears of corn.
The policeman’s baton now conducts an orchestra. Everything turned out for the best.
The dead stand perpetually outside the gate of heavenly peace.


22.
She is drowned already, sir, with salt water.
She was a-sailing to Lesbos with a company of her peers.
They had fled from the wars and were preparing to play suppliants.
Her town traded hands several times, being bombed by some regional players and one – or arguably two – superpowers.
She is an evocative pronoun. A pronoun stands in place of a noun, that is to say no one.
Let sirens sound for those who sink when a mountain summit arises out of the sea.
They feel their way to cultural capital, for it is fitting for the living to feed on the dead.
Is she drowned again in the waters of my remembrance of her? No. After one death there is no other.
My personal pronoun is the shield of Ajax.
It is made of eight bull hides stretched taut over a man-size, rectangular frame.
I kill sheep in the middle of the night. O sheep, I mistook you for my enemies.
Sir, this image shows me wading into the waters not far from the mouth of the Dardanelles.
The inscription next to my figure says Adidas. It is making a reference to my bathing shorts.
The water is cold, as befits a common grave. 

This poem is taken from PN Review 251, Volume 46 Number 3, January - February 2020.



Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to editor@pnreview.co.uk
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