Each man has a quiet that revolves
around him as he beats his head against the earth. But I am laughing

hard and furious. I pour a glass of pepper vodka
and toast the gray wall. I say we were

never silent. We read each other’s lips and said
one word four times. And laughed four times

in loving repetition. We read each other’s lips to uncover
the poverty of laughter. Touch the asphalt with fingers to hear the cool earth of Vasenka

Deposit ears into the raindrops on a fisherman’s tobacco hair.
And whoever listens to me: being

there, and not being, lost and found
and lost again: Thank you for the feather on my tongue,

thank you for our argument that ends,
thank you for my deafness, Lord, such fire

from a match you never lit.


***

I kissed a woman
whose freckles
aroused our neighbors.

Her trembling lips
meant come to bed.
Her hair falling down in the middle

of the conversation
meant come to bed.
I walked in my hospital of thoughts.

Yes, I carried her off to bed
on the chair of my
hairy arms. But parted lips

meant kiss my parted lips,
I read those lips
without understanding

soft lips meant
kiss my soft lips.
Such is a silence

of a woman who
speaks against silence, knowing
silence is what

moves us to speak.


––Ilya Kaminsky