Spring 2000 • Vol. XXII No. 2 Poetry |

These Days

In the mausoleum lies the corpse of a man who rode in a black limo, burgundy velvet over the windows, who drank grape brandy and griped about his liver, griped about Nomenklatura and all manner of ass-kissing in the party, though before he was dead, he was the party, dying by slow degrees from Stalin's poison. Four decades under glass. Never a perestroika man. Face and fingers spectrally lit. The yellow streetlights come on for an hour, then off for two. Lignite smoke browning the day's new snow. Because you asked me to, I put on the black boots, stood by the cavernous body in formaldehyde. Four degrees under a freeze. Down chipped cobblestones, we'd crossed a glaze of snow. The body next to me spoke with your voice; its hands were yours touching the glass. Our oval sighs of breath blasted beside a week's worth of new graffiti: what could be, what should be, shoved inside the dead man's orifices. And no one paid these days to paint over it.

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Nance Van Winckel is the author of eight books of poetry, most recently Our Foreigner, winner of the Pacific Coast Poetry Series Prize (Beyond Baroque Press, 2017), Book of No Ledge (Pleiades Press Visual Poetry Series, 2016), and Pacific Walkers (U. of Washington Press, 2014). Find her at www.nancevanwinckel.com.

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