A Poem by Michael DeMaranville

Living on Astrohanskaya-Saratov, Russia

The street of stars, I thought
the name would suggest

The girls, leather skirts
barelybelow sea level

Fishnets and stiletto heels
Sharing the warm intake of tobacco

Leaning into each car
Stopping. Sirens.

They ignore me. I’m local,
A neighbor. Passing through

The afternoon darkness,
Winter warms himself in the gaps

Between neck and scarf~
In fissures in the walls, door slits.

Today, an acquaintance learned
where I lived

Lewd smile asking
пробовали девушек Астраханской?

(Have you ever tried
the girls of Astrohanskaya?)

Literally, the question translates as
Have you ever tasted

Stale snow fiery biting
As I stumble across the poor

Lit road, bomb-shell torn generations ago
Gunpowder long since blown

On my lips. The gum-colored paste of
Bricks crumbling from years

Of abuse. Have I ever tasted?
I could chew on the cheap

Perfume filling dilapidated hallways
Bitterness like cacao

Sits on my tongue wishing to say
Something kind like sugar

Something, far removed from this misery
But sweetness chokes a life like this

Blocks in the throat
I know their faces. I see the women

Bundled, shopping for bread and potatoes
Vodka, before they transform

Into objects
To survive. If only they could

Taste of the stars
This street once dreamt of being.

Michael DeMaranville is a modern nomad who makes a living wherever he finds himself and manages to write as well. His work has been featured in Havik, Cosumnes River Journal, The Finger, and The Book Smuggler's Den, among others.

Ryan De LeonComment