Eugene Ostashevsky is a Russian-born American poet from New York City. His books include the poetry collection Iterature and a volume of Russian 1930s writings in translation called OBERIU: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism. He currently lives and teaches in Florence. The A & B reading celebrates the release of his chapbook Enter Morris Imposternak, Pursued by Ironies from Ugly Duckling Presse. These pieces about the heartbreak of Morris Imposternak ask how one can feel real emotion in a world where all objects are interchangeable.

From the Fishhouse

Selections from Enter Morris Imposternak,
Pursued by Ironies
by Eugene Ostashevsky

In a universe renowned for its simplicity
Composed, as it was, of P and ¬P

There lived a philosopher who became a painter
He painted portraits of philosophers

Each of them was caught in the act of thought
Like a victim of eating disorder in front of the refrigerator

A river flowed past the painterís house with words in it
That connected and disconnected very poetically

And sometimes you thought you understood what it said,
Even though it was all random, and sometimes you didnít

The sun rose and the sun set
And sometimes the other way around

And the seasons progressed from winter to spring to summer to fall
And sometimes the other way around

Every Saturday a philosopher who became a violinist
Came by to play always the same sonata, composed of three movements

                                                             First movement: love
                                                             Second movement: love and loss
                                                             Third movement: just loss

Do not love
It is possible that nothing is true anyway

That we live in a forest of begriffons
And that even we ourselves are begriffons, it is possible

That I am not saying what you think I am saying
And that you are not hearing what you think you are hearing,

But that we are scratching and howling on a branch in the dark
To signify our loneliness and desire for mice and other delicious vermin.

Do not love
For when you pop open a human being

All you find is forty feet of intestine
And how lovable is that?

Being a body is an indemnity and an indignity
It sags over time like a deflating balloon

If it toots your horn to embrace something that eats at one end and
       excretes at the other,
Why stop at people, why not direct your emotions at cows?

Do not love
For love will come to grief

And if it doesnít come to grief, it will come to grief anyway
Since one of you must die first

What is the point of anything when everything has an end?
The world is like

The fiddling of a deaf musician in an empty room
He finishes, bows—to whom?—and modestly leaves

And then thereís silence.
How is the silence afterwards different from the silence during?