A. Molotkov


A Violin Lesson

An old man is like a violin:
he remembers the tree
he was made of.

The tree
remembers being a man.

If we cross the river,
will the water remember us
as we are,
or as we think we are?

If the river’s memory
had to track each rivulet,
it would overflow,
burst into an ocean.

The old man moves
in slow motion
because his feet
remember the truth:

nothing ends,
not if you are
part of the ending.

The river
remembers the bridge.
Remembering our crossing
is the ocean’s job.

The old man is an ocean.
The river, a violin.

Let’s play it.


Planning for My Life

I feel as if we had forgotten something,
and then it disappeared.

The sun’s a crime,
horizon melting,
our lives misshapen by neglect.

But if our song should lose its path,
may myriads of buzzing seconds
envelop us, demanding harmony.

May nascent futures spin
and crash like cymbals
in our minds, unseen by others.

We know how it works. The sun dies
when not in use:
lonely, melting under a lid of night.

We must deliver,
if only to ourselves, we must shine.
We must belong in our lives.

I feel as if we had forgotten everything.
When I’m born, remind me to start again.


The Gardener

Your trust, a twig in my fingers
to break
              or remain unbroken,
like a tree
              in sky’s open palm.

When I let you go,
I will grow wings
              and fly,
singing a lullaby
              for a tree
that was never planted.


A. Molotkov: Born in Russia, A. Molotkov immigrated to the U.S. in 1990 and switched to writing in English in 1993. Accepted by 70+ publications, including The Kenyon Review, Molotkov is winner of New Millennium Writings and Koeppel fiction awards, a poetry chapbook contest, and an Indie Award for an experimental film. He runs the Moonlit Poetry Caravan critique group in Portland, co-edits The Inflectionist Review, and serves on the Board of Directors of Oregon Poetry Association. Molotkovís new translation of a Chekhov short story was included by Knopf/Random House in their Everyman Series edition of fishing stories. Visit him at


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MadHat, Issue 15, Winter 2013-2014