A song for your birthday

A song for your birthday

On your birthday I want to be together again
The others’ birthdays are all vague to me
Hahaha, I say, I’m bad with names and dates, you guys
And start getting drunk in too much of a hurry.

An old fortuneteller said the whips of hell been chasing me
But it was when I was extra good that you took off your belt
What the hell do those bitches know anyway?
Slavic women swear by them – which would explain a lot.

They say you throw some impressive shadow, babe,
Giants can’t help it if all their gestures are grand
That’s why your ladies-in-waiting carry poison in their rings
While you let your pets sharpen their teeth on your throne.

Power is power, was it the heat of your whisper in my ear –
Or just summer creeping up the back stairs again?
Those grass stains never did come out of my jeans
My mother has her own score to settle with the delivery man.

I’m a big girl all the way, but I bite the pillow at night
It was you who taught me that some stories must wait to be told
Those seeds of the future you brought me on your tongue –
I kissed the red clay ground and still wait for them to grow.

Baby, do you remember, stars dropping like recon units from the sky
You and I, the hood of the car cooling, transferring energy to us
I didn’t know this kind of beauty was even possible
Let alone that it was a product of the laws of physics.

You didn’t know your strength, I didn’t know my weakness
We got by alright. Killer, painter, singer, soldier, moneychanger you were
Scientist, dreamer, reaper, slaver, shaman and winemaker
And me in your lap, braiding roses and rattlesnakes into my hair.

Baby, on your birthday, it was always you who gave the gifts
Some I wanted, some you pressed into my hand anyway
And when your sleazebag accountant said the balance was due
I put my hair up and decorated the sidewalk with my bags

I had a dream I was in the backseat with Nabokov
Hot leather stuck to my bare legs
Your smile in the rearview, those expensive teeth
Asking – Darlin, will you spring for the gas?

Rules are only for children and good Protestants
You said when I saw you last, teetering on the stair
I had that funny walk and I have it still
Ain’t no room inside me for a bigger affair.

All the king’s sweets (a song for overgrown children)

All the king’s sweets (a song for overgrown children)

When you walk out into this night
You will find what you’re looking for
– Or maybe a little bit more.

Gunpowder on a stick
So sweet that it hurts to lick;
A border where lace confronts thigh
Patrolled by a a jealous eye;
A star in the forehead,
A golden sieve,
And all you can see
Is all you believe.

My darling, I took the rather bold step
Of stabbing the dragon
With a pen
In the back.
But nobody comes
And nobody cares,
I’m alone with the beast
I have not taken care.
He’s rather amused, giggling into his gold,
He’s not shy with his smile
Though his fangs smell like rot.

My darling, other heroes will come,
To fuck all the women, to drink all the rum;
I will not be among them, I was silly, it seems,
My bones will be toothpicks,
My memory will dim.
They’ll make armor from dragon scales
And wear it down to the pub
While my scattered molecules
Still demand all the credit.
(I told you, I’m silly,
I told you, it hurts)

You keep trying to reach me
Through other men
When they put their hands
On my exposed neck.
I wish you would fucking stop it,
But honey runs thicker than water.

This is my city, and I won’t share,
I’ll scrape the moonlight off the asphalt
I’ll pack away the flaxen air.
You’re only allowed
To exhale.

I told you, being a wife
I’m as dull as a butter knife,
Dull blades hurt so much more;
The last czar’s daughters would know.

Pearls of moisture
Gleam like satellites
In the spiderwebs
Between the trees at night.

Pearls of moisture
On my skin
Swiped by a burglar
As my years grew thin.

When we were young
We didn’t know
Our lover was night;
Night was the cream on the upper lip
Clotted to butter
From body heat;
Night was the watcher
On the cemetery wall;
Night was the angel
In the hospital hall;
Paint peeling off walls
Like silks off your mistress,
Tell me, who among us
Would dare take it all back?

very long engagement

“I’m a Happy Cockroach” – The World Premiere

This is my brother and I, singing the “I’m a Happy Cockroach” song, which has become the ringtone of champions in Russian-speaking circles (the word “champions” being, uh, synonymous with “twelve-year-olds”). The thumps you hear are supposed to be the sounds of shoes being flung at the Happy Cockroach. The Happy Cockroach is taunting the shoe-flinger.

Now, I have to warn you, the video does end on a tragic note. After the final thump, the cockroach is no longer singing. And I, the survivor of many an epic battle with the scuttling spawns of Satan, have a murderous grin on my face. This isn’t for the faint of heart, so don’t bill me for the Valium later, ’cause I have warned your ass and don’t have money anyway.

P.S. The performance is, of course, dedicated to very special twin birthdays; to my mother Tatiana and my aunt, godmother, and namesake, Natalia. Live long and prosper, my ladies.