Monday, December 10, 2018

Quotations from Lev Ozerov

Below are a few favorite lines from Lev Ozerov's Portraits without Frames

Khrushchev's sevenfold retinue
were falling over themelves,

No.  Like a forest or a garden
before a storm,
he was prepared to take the hit,

He felt the breath of the eleventh century

I wasn't walking behind him--
I was being drawn inexorably in his wake.

People like him are loved, but not
by envious courtiers,
slanderers, executioners,
smooth-tongued informers,
and members of the nomenclature.

but their ways are artful,
their craft invisible

He melted like a candle,
more swiftly than a candle. The era
of suspicion had set in..

He was in Komsomolsk,
on the river Amur.
Even in this hell
he knew moments of triumph.

Like it or not, he mastered
a few different crafts.
All came in handy: 
patience, silence, competence,
competence, deftness, silence.

If you want to speak,
keep silent.
There are ears everywhere,
ears and more ears.

Terribly cold--
and nothing to eat.
Only black,
soot-covered icicles--
prisoners' popsicle,
cattle-track toffee.

The dacha smells
of pine shavings and sun.

His politeness rings
and tinkles
like a teaspoon in a glass.

You cannot stay angry with Korney Ivanovich.
He has rewarded you with a smile,
a flick of the wrist, the  manners of Oxford,

A Tacitus of prosody,
knocked off course by his enemies!

the rainstorm is having a ball--
it slams raindrops into the pavement
and hammers them flat as they fall.

with the bows of suffering
on violins of time

The tips of his forehead and chin
reach for each other;
between them nests the clever smile

On legs of jelly
I went off to the Lybyanka

as he searched for the right,
astonishing word,
what you saw was a centaur,
a battle-bowed, armor-clad
warrior of the word--

At a time like this
honest people are not asleep.

The Tretykaov Gallery is turning
quietly crimson, as it often does
at dawn, enjoying a rest from visitors
and their all-knowing guides.

The doctor gently touched his back
and said, "I understand.
I'm not asking whether
or not you drink. I don't
need to.  I'm asking if
you have a bite to eat
when you drink."

His doctor's coat is laundered blue-white
and is so starched that it rustles.
A kingpin medic,
with a pack of assistants

Angina, high blood pressure,
a heart corroded by tyranny,

Verdure and stone,
cheek by jowl--
so begins
the story of our lives.

Looking after his friends was his vocation,
his "small area of expertise,"
as he sometimes put it.

There are a lot of cars.
Which are Black Marias,
we don't know.

a truly Soviet
caricature of a capitalist,
a man, I could see,
with an unerring
eye for commercial opportunity.

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