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Feature: Back From the USSR
Rafael Levchin

Rafael's Art Selections
Rafael Levchin Art Selections
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from AGED EPHEBI
Translated from the Russian by Serge Levchin

***

the sun never sets on
the hero’s shield
the world is all upon it
around it a void

a troy

***

where
the city tumbled into the sea
where but yesterday the blind seer roamed the beach
where epithets clashed in sacral chaos
a café
two double espressos
your daily hemlock

***

the wine-colored beer
and why not
it would have been at least a kind of kavafis

***

we flung sand at one another on plague-stricken beaches

***

the difference between engraving and intaglio
is the same as between hip and waist

not the same
worse

***

body meets soul
doesn’t recognize it
says let me touch it

***

and looking down at the fleshy parts
that reminded him of
of his desire
he sang
the battle hymn

***

will they understand
the young
what it’s like
to march in a phalanx
dragging a sarissa
thinking

you’re buried in lies
deeper than daniel
he that marches in phalanxes
under the weight of sarissas
and various other junk
thinks of nothing
with nothing

so be it but
will they understand
they who are young
what it’s like
to turn in
your best friend
because if you don’t
they will come for your wife
your children
you

they will not
they have no friends
no wives
no children
no parents certainly
they are the children
of those we turned in

***

no they won’t leave
the barbarians won’t leave for the life of you

***

what is it then
that makes us fearless
before the enemy’s chariots

only the nectar of the gods

***

why is it then that we long to be back
beneath the walls of thebes
in the circular gardens
of the sleepers

the sand
is anonymous

***

even black and white snapshots
would speak volumes
of their bodies
honeyed
longed for
interminable like libraries
athletic a little careless
in a word
hellenes

***

had a great time
but forgot somehow
that time won’t be had

***

solitude

a homely old
courtesan
singing
to herself

***

a handful
of stones in the sand
but for an execution
sufficient

***

the body sleeps
in its own tender embrace
the song barely audible

 

divider

Rafael LevchinRafael Levchin was born on the Crimean Peninsula, USSR, in 1946, studied in Leningrad and in Moscow (Literary Institute), lived in Kiev from 1970 to 1991, and in Chicago, USA since 1991. He has been in the underground art-groups: "postfuturists" ("metarealists") 1976-1983; underground theatre Chen-Dziu, 1982-1988; 39. 2° C, 1984-1988; Theater Club from 1985, then Neomythological Theatre, and International Theater Ensemble. He was published in Anthology of the Russian Vers Libre, Anthology of Unusual Stories and in magazines: New Circle, Mnogotochie, Oykumena, Commentaries, Stethoscope, Chernovik, and www.polutona.ru/?show=rafael. He is a ceramist, graphic, visual poet, and book-artist whose work is in private collections in Moscow, Kiev, Krakow, Bruges, Chicago, Miami, and Mexico. He is the publisher, editor-in-chief, art director of the multilingual samizdat-zine REFLECT... КУАДУСЕШЩТ. “I’m really obsessed about archetypes such as mask, great goddess, centaur, fish, warrior, demon, tower, labyrinth, circle, spiral, and their combinations, especially mask, because I believe that almost everything in our life can be some sort of mask. So I’m trying to revive them in ceramics, collage, graphics, painting, book-art, etc. From the beginning, the process of transforming material (clay, paper, wood) into artwork I feel myself as a magician, and I love this creative power. This obsession, based on memory, experience, and imagination, always exists in my work, sometimes mixed with dark humor, and sometimes with bright colors of love, because I love very much my wife, my sons, my town, my country, my planet, and my galaxy.”

Serge Levchin was born in Kiev, 1979 and has a BA from St. John's College, Annapolis. He studied Russian literature with Boris Gasparov at Columbia University and has worked subsequently as cinematographer, scriptwriter, film editor, researcher, subtitler, invariably at minimal wages. Polutona. See his website here.

 

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