An international online magazine that publishes Surrealist poetry in English.
Another Word for Exile
A pretentious fish out of the water
does not adjust to the surrounding world.
The world is not much worse than the one it used to
inhabit, and which was itself far from horrific.
The fish chalks up its misery to its own pretension
and sleeps in resignation among shoreline snakes.
A basketball player discovers the fish late at night
after his long heroic session of playing ball.
He sees the fish as a friend, wonders whether it would
love the game as much as his father did.
The streetlights sprinkle them with unphotographable glow,
and a high-profile prophet observes them from a window,
as he turns to a new page in his chronicle.
It's a daily struggle, but the fish sleeps through most of its days,
smoking or simply vegetating.
It will make a pass now and then, even score 3 points,
but there is always that nausea,
and rumors have it that the fish is heartbroken.
The prophet has a lot to say on the subject.
He publishes his book. It is read by miscellaneous people.
Around the uncertain edges of the basketball court
there is an ever-changing crowd of observers.
The all-star fish extraordinaire makes headlines.
Its teammates bask in the reflected glory.
Meanwhile, blackish despair flagellates the fish.
It takes its admirers for granted.
The fish goes to church, but to no avail.
It narrowly escapes being hit by a car,
but even that only gives it momentary elation.
The fish is in bad shape, and everyone notices.
Finally, the fish dreams of its old water,
but it has no means of getting back into it:
new buildings have been built between the fish and the shore,
and besides, it would hardly survive there now.
The prophet knows this, gives the fish advice,
and when it won't listen, takes out a restraining order
to keep the fish out of the water.
The fish is withering away on the basketball court.
Balloons and postcards that read "I love you!" fly down,
but the cockeyed emptiness is always felt.
And then, one day, a shady automobile
of peculiar coloration comes to the stadium,
and the fish experiences a Woodsworthian moment.
It recalls the commissar's memento written on its hand
and goes home dressed like a drunken soldier,
brooding over the graying of its beard in the mirror.
And there is a sleeping boy on an unmarked bench
who looks at it as it passes him on the street.
The boy produces a marker and dates the bench
in memory of the soldier, to whom he gives a weird nickname.
Then it rains, and the nickname
washes off. The boy is still sleeping.
The soldier, unaware of him, turns the corner.
And for some reason, he suddenly wants to cry.
Anton Yakovlev is from New Jersey. SurVision Books published his latest poetry chapbook, Chronos Dines Alone, winner of James Tate Poetry Prize 2018. The Last Poet of the Village, a book of translations of selected poems by Sergei Yesenin, came out in 2019 from Sensitive Skin Books. Yakovlev's poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Hopkins Review, The Stockholm Review of Literature, Amarillo Bay, Posit, and elsewhere.