from Deaf Republic: 4

By Ilya Kaminsky b. 1977 Ilya Kaminsky
“You must speak not only of great devastation
but of women kissing in the yellow grass!”

I heard this not from a great philosopher
but from my brother Tony

who could do four haircuts in thirteen minutes,
his eyes closed, reciting our National Anthem to the mirror.

“You must drink cucumber vodka and naked sing all night
Unite women and boys of the Earth!”

He played the accordion out of tune in a country
where the only musical instrument is the door.

“Speak not only of great devastation”
so said my brother, who could not write or read

but spent his days covered in other people’s hair.

NOTES: These poems are from the unfinished manuscript Deaf Republic. This story of a pregnant woman and her husband living during an epidemic of deafness and civil unrest was found beneath the floorboards in a house in Eastern Europe. Several versions of the manuscript exist.—IK

Source: Poetry (May 2009).

 Ilya  Kaminsky

Biography

Poet Ilya Kaminsky was born in the former Soviet Union city of Odessa. He lost most of his hearing at the age of four after a doctor misdiagnosed mumps as a cold, and his family was granted political asylum by the United States in 1993, settling in Rochester, New York. After his father’s death in 1994, Kaminsky began to write poems in English. He explained in an interview with the Adirondack Review, “I chose English because no . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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