A trap

I have mixed feelings about what happened that day —
following her out of curiosity,
staying in her place for no reason except…

Pity. Is it the right word?

A table, a chair, a bed, a single window.
Several old mugs and plates on the table.
But no food, no signs of cooking.

A tiny room, almost claustrophobic.

Barefoot, in a loose skirt,
she stood near the window, for a long time.
Motionless like a doll.

That what she seemed to be — a doll.

Then she looked at me over her shoulder —
it was a surrender in her gaze
but also contempt.

A picture above the bed — abstract, cold.

I went to the door: all this was staged,
it was a poorly disguised trap!
“Why?” she cried, “What’s wrong?”

I had nothing to say.

In the Garden

In the Chihuly Garden
bees pollinate flowers
ignoring exhibits

while visitors
photograph glasswork
paying no heed to bees.

Bees belong to flowers,
art belongs to indoors.
tourists belong to their cameras.

But what about you and me?
Do we “belong together”
as a popular song suggests?

Or shall we dismiss the lyrics,
and stick to the facts?


give me freedom or give me something he said
they gave him something and something set him free

what is the purpose of living fast he asked
and they said there is no purpose in anything

but introduced him to the mystical experience
of crossing the finish line in one fluid motion

the last word forming in the corner
of his underdeveloped mouth was

w o w

a spark

when you become
an epitome of absence
an one-way trip to the past
there is no need
to keep the lid on ruined memories
it’s time to let out a melody
a smile a confession

torpid for many years
my love turned into
the ritual of reading old letters
listening to distant voices
this has nothing to do
with the blind date of your death
it’s just a song
just a spark of winning solitude

Boris Kokotov was born in Moscow. He writes poems and short stories. He is the author of several poetry collections. His original work and translations to English have appeared in Adelaide, Blackbird, Chiron Review, Constellations, Poet Lore, and Washington Square Review, among others. He lives in Baltimore.