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Matvei Yankelevich

Generative Description: A2

in the pocket of air
left out of the city by a riverside,
(where the rainbow ties
the railroad
gone with the wind,
leaves the dead leaves
where they lie
in toaster ovens
all along the monument
to tinkle tinkle back
alive back into the sky)
positions her: back to the wall,
waterfall, butterfly,
so she gets down and breaks a glass
plays Parcheesi to dawn
then drops out
of night with a
credit card.

On the Thin Layers of Cigarette Papers

In 1932 I had special-made boots
and a cup of coffee tailored to my size.
Were I a layer, I would lie.
I would lie on top of my friends,
the other layers; layers all of them.
Atop would sit perception, a top spinning,
perched like an eagle with its eagle wings
in the still air
it greets the ocean waves.

Perception, thus perched, looks down into the layers, and draws a line to the bottom. The line catches on to a word on a hook. A line of poetry may catch a fish, a line of sight catches an old boot. Walking the line between yesterday and tomorrow, the boot is friends with the line of horizon. Standing in line, in wait, wading in waiting, the boot waits with a time-line in mind.

This is funny, I says. My friends, you have taught me warmth, says I, the warmth of layers.

The line, meanwhile forgets mere words… Lovely mere. More like the sea.

Several of these fine Modiano papers (made in Italy) have been rolled in mild desperation and smoked in moments of severe indifference-accounting for sudden inconsistencies of sense and abrupt chasms in the forced tale of boot, eagle, ocean and coffee.

Writing does not occur unwittingly- choices are chosen, forces set into motion, sleep must be slept, beds made and unmade in the making of effort.

The glue would serve the cigarette (duty to roll, my friends, and ravel).

The oceans of brown coffee and alazarin-blue crayon-
The eagle I've abandoned, and to begin with imagined vaguely,
coming toward and away,
toward and away, a simple letter V, a mindful checkmark, what's more a book held open by years of slow forgetting and heavy-stepping eyes-
No head, no tail to this flipped coin-
Wet letters seep into adjacent pages, sheafs, layer upon layer (lovely like smoke) creating one big unmappable word-

an eagle held together by hope
and the charcoal press
of the end
the bankrupted end
the end in immigration
the end in the line in the stare
in the black in the boots.

Far After Five (Deposit, New York)

Everything here has colors.
Where living is colorful.
Where life is worth living.

Something gone past
on a highway of heads and headlights
faster than darkness
exceeding the limit

the tooth aches from the good life
sweet coffee & sweet cookies
soured by the slushpuppy of sadness
sometimes. Writing, riding.

Writing, riding.
Attractions. Refreshments.

We are in a town called,
no kidding, Deposit.
I am not keeping a journal
in order to free my 'real' life
of my biographical data.


Matvei Yankelevich is founding editor of Ugly Duckling Presse in Brooklyn, where he publishes and co-edits 6x6, a poetry periodical. His traslations and original work have appeared in LIT, Open City, Greetings, New York Nights, New American Writing, canwehaveourballback, Shampoo, neotrope, Dirigible, and others. His book series, Writing In The Margin, is published by Loudmouth Collective. He is currently working on a book of translations of Daniil Kharms.

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