Svetlana Lavochkina
Svetlana Lavochkina Foto (c) Dirk Skyba


By Svetlana Lavochkina




Bass Soup

The Sergei Prokofiev Airport, Donetsk (DOK)
March 26, 2014

The Sunday fish truck stopped at my porch.
I have been wasteful of late. It’s not like me at all
to shell out ten bucks for the biggest she-bass,
Knocked-up and alive.
From the garden hose, I gave her a last shower.

Short scaling strokes.
The fins pricked my fingertips.
I stuck the knife into her cloaca.
It slid through her belly towards her head
as if she was butter.

Between my coiled fingers, a slick bale of roes
bulged with its raw force –
I wrapped it in flour fir
and fried the vitamin bomb in oil,
Crispy and gold, just as Alex likes.

A Greek recipe, simple as two plus two.
Thyme, celery, parsley and leek.
A squirt of lime juice, pepper and salt.
It’s simple bookkeeping – a bass on the food chain altar,
Omega 3 fatty acids – my earn.

No delays at Arrivals. He’ll land on time.
I’m wearing Louboutins that stick in the moving staircase.
Such awful squander again, not like me at all.
In some weeks, they won’t fit anymore
Because my feet will swell.

The bass soup is in the chafing dish.
Much as I hate him drunk, I bought him his booze.
He doesn’t know yet. I only told
the giant Sergei Prokofiev’s head
etched on the lounge wall.

The airport shines with fresh orange paint.
French perfume wafts from the travelers’ necks.
The Kestrel Hen must hatch her egg.
I needn’t the chick golden. Alive is enough.
Medlar can just as well feed on compost.

With fat German prey, my kestrel flies back
to his nest from his hovering hunt.
Slag as he is, a high roller and a screw-around,
we are still the balance of debit and credit –
Alex and Lara, Alarum.

He’s so quiet in sleep, not a splash of a snore.
His armor of flaws is weightless in bed.
How he wolfs down his food,
how he sticks out his tongue when filing an ingot,
how he rants about Greek gods.

Cantankerous Hen

May 2014 Cat Eye Pit Cottage

I tell you for the thousandth time, pigheaded thing,
You are paranoid. I won’t be bothered to confirm or deny.
I’m here with you, have been and will be.
Why the hell do we have to go through this again
When we see him, fit as a fiddle on the ultrasound pic,
The size of a melon, his pecker and balls well in view?

You slag, you came home from Munich with such a lewd mug
as if you’d spent all the night before screwing.

Didn’t it occur to you that my face was alight
With the deal of my life? You’ve hacked my Facebook,
Viber, WhatsApp. Don’t deny.
Did you find any evidence? Then just shut up.
Were you not pregnant, I’d give you a spanking –
To start bitching about when all’s well!

Hell yes! Can’t be better! I can’t even go shopping for food
without some camouflaged scum jumping the queue.
We had neighbors. Where are they now?
Why don’t they stop by for a booze?
We can’t even fly anymore. The airport is bust.
Fuel your Jeep while you still can get gas.

Won’t hear of it. Leave the estate for the orcs to ransack?
Waste hard-earned dough renting an overpriced cage?

A safe cage facing a dump is better than a riverside view
from this marble-tiled terrace lit up by shelling salute.
Before he learns how to tell his mom’s voice from his dad’s,
He’ll learn how to tell mortar from Howitzer.

Yes, Donetsk’s hard up but this is a short-lived mess:
The city’s soiled laundry boil-washed overnight,
Tomorrow we’ll have it as clean as a whistle.

If you’re so crazy about staying, why are you then purblind
to the paint on the fence peeling off? You pretend you’re too busy
to install the bidet we bought three months ago.

Where do you think the money comes from?
Haven’t you seen how huge my commission has been?
A hundred stainless steel roses, truck-heavy chrome vines;
A dragonfly chandelier the size of this elm;
Twenty-two bronze bottle fly taps?
I managed to get them shipped one day before the orcs
Hijacked all Europe-bound cargo.

Don’t give me that, you spent days on end picketing,
brandishing blue-yellow flags, belting out Ukrainian songs.
Did it help? Hogwash. Your mewling misfired.
But remember that woman tied up to a lamppost,
wrapped up in your favorite flag,
rabid crowd spitting at her, kicking her in the stomach.
Did Alex the Iron Fist stop his Jeep to step in?

She was flanked by an orc with a colt.
I had but a crate of beer in my hatch.

Your son’s got two balls as the sonogram shows,
I hope he’ll not grow up a wimp. 

Call me names if it makes you feel good.
Look, with 15 thousand euros on our account, we don’t have to fear a thing.
If need be, we’ll go to Germany, I’ll find what to do,
Rank Four in the World Blacksmith Contest.

What you are is a second-world oaf with nil foreign tongue skills,
They don’t give a damn about us there, we’re not in the club.
Who’ll give you a work permit, the bitch that you fucked?

There’s still leeway. Let the chick hatch –
I’ll bribe the orcs at the checkpoint, and –
Off to Crete. I’ll fish and repair oil presses.
You’ll take Baby Kestrel for Aegean walks.

Dumbbell… It’s midnight. You can’t even take us downtown
to our make-peace place. The dolphin breach of the sprinkler
has long degraded into a roach race of tanks.

I’ll manage without: this nest is air-conned.
Quit your mop, babe, I’ll smoothen your feathers.
Lie down beside me, cantankerous hen.


August 2014

I’m basking my solar cells in the heat –
Tiles of onyx and gold spangled with rubies and sapphires.
I don’t pay taxes, I don’t bear kids.
Extolled around the globe since BC, a gauzy, innocuous thing,
the aquarelle atlas of girls’ petticoats.
I’m the squall of a minuscule change
and the name of a fluttery kiss.

I’ve drunk roses through my in-built cocktail straw –
I know their names by their nectar.
I’ve sucked on apricots, pears, bull-heart tomatoes
forsaken by the Donetsk denizens on their flight from the war.
I’d starve though if botany were my only food source.
My peaceful mates aren’t squeamish about feces,
but I can afford to feast à la carte.

The deli supreme arrives after thunder –
not the Zeus’ gong bang
but a jacked-up mammal diastole,
then a hollow syncopal spasm.
With my tiny claws and arolia pads
I’m holding onto a milky-smooth petal.
My tarsi receptors know it isn’t a rose.

I’ve tasted soldiers of both belligerent sides:
grunts, tankmen, pilots, artillerists, snipers.
Sliding down their DNA chutes, my proboscis
found them too bitter, next to inedible.
Old cannibals claimed there’s nothing like a little boy’s hand
but I argue that a pregnant civilian lass is the best:
her salt poise, her sodium glitter, the zinc of her cautious caress.

She didn’t stop when shelling began.
Shadberries gathered, she went on to medlar,
A meticulous woman dead set on picking the bush to the thread.
Her left Croc dissolved into a puddle of rubber;
the blast wave flung her right Croc onto the fence.
The still marbles of pupils, the buckwheat confetti of hair;
nesting her cabbage-sized womb, loose dungarees.

He kills his Jeep with a squeak of a million mice.
The house, the smithy – intact; fresh paint on the gate.
On the stove, the bass soup is hot;
the newly-installed bidet is scrubbed with chlorine.
But in the garden, he fronts the mess of a premium crop,
her toe, me perched on it, with my solar cells charged –
The thrill of being smashed by his Nike-shod foot.

I’m looking for kicks in A.D. 2014,
trying on gala costumes for my hydrogen heart.
My butterfly metamorphosis is nowhere in the myths
but gods don’t dance to men’s harps.


December 2014

Do you hear me, inmate Arcady?
You’ve had enough of rec time.
Dutch Act didn’t free you
From your civil duty.
Get out of your grave for a coup
In both hemispheres of my brain.

You’ve shown unusual promise
On the front line of ploys.
Bucket boy at the foot of the pecking order,
You defeated the jail wolves
By the sheer force of your germ –
But you mustn’t rest on your laurels.

New wolves have come from the north,
Their codpieces open.
Donetsk is Red Riding Hood’s bodice
Sliced up and sewn
Onto Matryoshka’s empire petticoat.

HIV aka Russian World
Kicks in the City Hall door,
Bangs its gun on the conference table,
Transcribes the word dog
Backwards onto the low brows
Of the hoi polloi,
Translates Dostoyevsky
Into the monosyllables
The riffraff can grasp.
All over the wind rose
The virus metes out
Its newborn farts.

On the millenium cusp
You used to abide by Vermeer.
Now go two centuries backwards
For some front line approach:
I commission you, inmate Arcády,

The Garden of Donetsk Delights
Á la retroviral Bosch.

Your canvas is the horizon.
Poison for planes,
A cake for fanciful art.

Start with a floral background:
A season-defying meadow.
Peonies, Tulips, Carnations –
Mortars in full shooting glory.

Mind the infrared color scheme:
Cadavers – blue,
Looted mansions – cold purple.
Magenta for vehicles.
Red for the viable warriors.

I hope you won’t mind
Being sponsored with paints for your palette.
15 thousand euros – I’ve ground them finely
Into pigments of ammo for my battalion.
Blood makes a passable proxy
For linseed oil.

You know, in the first world,
The HIV patients take
Entry inhibitors
That allow them to live
Like nobody’s business.
Likewise, your airborne masterpiece
Will be this city’s treatment.

Left Panel

Mount Wank in the Alps.
Lisa on a king-size bed,
Her head on my chest.
I remember subversively wanting her to conceive –
Europe knocked up by a second-world ox.

The plane is on time.
Lara in her buckwheat prime
Picks me up at Arrivals
With a secretive air,
A faint note of bass soup in her hair
Underpinning her perfume.
As we pass the huge bas-relief of Prokofiev,
She holds out her iPhone
With a photo of two litmus stripes.
Her daft Louboutins
Keep getting stuck in the steps
Of the moving staircase.

Lara had sensed my business trip fling,
She always knew when I had a bit on the side.
As ever, she shouldn’t have worried.

Central Panel

Mom Aphrodite fled
From her metallurgical throne
To shack in animal bodies.
If you see a dead beast, it is her.
She gets a big O
From every act of her murder.

A butterfly on Lara’s still toe,
A carnivorous swallowtail.
My reasoning goes
Along the line of my Dragon.

Collimator-sight – cartridge – foe:
A sniper on top of a spoil tip
With a spin-diving kestrel
On my MultiCam sleeve.

Merapi, Mount Rainier, Vesuvius –
Three baby volcanos meet
At a lake of serene two-tone waters.
I used to call this spot in turns
Donetsk Riviera,
Donbas Crimea,
Steppe Cayo Coco –
A place for clandestine dates.

Now they are firing points.

Right Panel

I’ve eaten my shoulder straps.
I’ve hung topsy turvy.
If harems existed in Donetsk,
I could apply for the job of a eunuch.

My right leg is tied to my Jeep,
My left to an armoured transporter.
They rev to start in different directions.
This is a finale custom-tailored for snipers.