“Poems in a Male Voice” by Vasilina Orlova

“Poems in a Male Voice” by Vasilina Orlova

Poems in a Male Voice


Sleep is excess
I was adamant
I insisted
I also noted that she ate too fast
The city was in a blue mist, twisted,
In dusk and dust
“Must I
Drink a cocktail through the straw?”
She asked.
You must drink anything no more,
And in the world her long transparent straw
And scarlet strawberry distinctly coexisted.


What is this fascination, I asked, with robots, lilies,
Grasses, and tigers?
Nothing, really,
She whispered,
It all is not about tigers or lilies,
Neither it is about robots or grasses.


Cabaret Voltaire,
Ballet mécanique,
A doll scattering her cogged wheels
While dancing, bowing, and glancing; a yellow parakeet
Spreads wings
In a glittering ring
Wait, I’ll show you something
Which you have not seen.


I asked her, Madame,
Would you like some tea,
And while she
Monocled me piercingly,
All cold and with a disdainful smile,
Hated a witness–
A mechanoid snail
Looking out of her embroidered purse,
But I could see
She never once
Would tell me “no,”
And so I stood,
Without a flinch,
By way of small revenge
Returning carefully
No more than a quarter
Of her monstrous smile.


No, you will be not spared,
Once in a lifetime, the light is turned on
And pitilessly cuts objects out of darkness,
A merciless cold light, which leaves no shadow to hide,
Leaves nothing to the sight which wants to be deceived,
The gyroscope rotates, the goal is resistance
To rotation, balance, power, control.
I studied demiurgy, physics, and choreography of words;
And for a pet I kept
A venomous spider, and for a monocle, Venus,
I turned into tiger lilies, lilied tigers,
Swaying-hips lynxes, unleashing gory orgy;
I am myself a gyrator,
And I am forgetting the word.


endless wrestling
is exhausting,
she said and sighed,
and threw her fan on a table

porcelain tinkled,
a dragon tail

of her red dress
in golden wasps,
twisted around a chair leg

blue kakadu
in an avocado tree
and a mechanical cicada
mixed a fantastic noise

I leaned to her
and whispered, yes,

especially when
you do not
want to win

Vasilina Orlova is currently working on her PhD in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. She holds a PhD in philosophy from Moscow State University. She has published a number of books of prose and poetry in Russian, including Mificheskaya Geographia (Mythical Geography, Voimega, Moscow, 2016), Kvartet (Quartet, Vagrius, Moscow, 2009), Pustinya (The Wilderness, Zebra E, Moscow, 2008). Her writings have appeared in prominent Russian literary journals such as Noviy Mir and Druzhba Narodov. She has received several Russian literary awards.

Born in the settlement of Dunay in the Russian Far East in 1979, Orlova has lived in Moscow, London, and is now based in Austin, Texas. Her first book of poetry in English, Contemporary Bestiary, was published in 2014 by Gutenberg Printing Press Independent Group, Austin. Composer Matthew Manchillas wrote a series of songs for soprano, flute, Bb clarinet, and piano, inspired by several poems from Contemporary Bestiary, and gave his collection the same title. Orlova’s second poetry book in English, Holy Robots, came out in 2017. Her writings in English have appeared in different collected volumes and journals, including Figroot Press, The End of Austin, Blue Bonnet Review, Bloodstone Review, Visions International, and Cultural Anthropology.

Category : Issue Three December 2016 Tags : ,

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