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Dancing with Yesenin
by Elizabeth Iannaci

With him, it's just Vodka! Vodka!
Vodka! all the god-forsaken night.
He orders me Dance! alone
in the center of the nightclub, or with
one of his many hooligans (Mayakovsky
at least has rhythm, spares my shoes,
my dignity, calls me a Giaconda). Yesenin
broods, smoke drifts from his lip, lilting up
into the gold curl at his brow. He is still
more beautiful than morning. But dark.
Cutting in, he leads me: First the Foxtrot,
When My Baby Smiles at Me, then
feet stationary, we sway, interlocked.
Inevitably, he compares me to Isadora:
how she'd move, glide, scarves trailing,
more zephyr than flesh, bone; more
elusive. She whom he hated loving,
he now loves to hate. He presses me
tight against his chest, mouth
against my neck, heat radiating
with each exhale; tells me to love
like a carnivore, consume it all,
waste nothing, in order to keep alive,
to breathe, to write. Blood makes the better ink.
He is a disappointed seraph. Can't—no,
won't accept the tarnish, the decay;
or that vodka no longer tastes     like anything.

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