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red blue yellow and sometimes black
the dragonflies give each other a tow
or maybe a jump start. they are as big
as she said they would be and I
am flat on my back in the heat
dragonflies scattered above me like
points on an infinite grid. they skid
backwards and sideways the summer breeze
pushing relentlessly out to sea
as they resist without motors or sails
dipping in front of my eyes like yo-yos


one of our friends has broken his rib
and burned his face and look at his rash
the sun and the drink are diagnosed
but we know different his inner bird
is singing its forgotten eastern song
their word for vacation means release
and he hurls himself over rocks and cliffs
grabbing hot mussels from over the flame
forming the trumpeter's embouchure
from habit when liquor glides down his throat
it doesn't work he can't stop thinking


I believe that mars is red,
a kind of red beyond understanding
as if our digitalized transgression
could bring us a color undeformed anyway
who wants to go there raise your hand
virtual curiosity reigns among the
cubicled mountain climbers. hey
let's stage a mock landing on earth
otherwise flat on her own horizon
everyone wants to see her too but
no one wants to be here much longer
the dream of the exodus is being formed


our friend with the broken rib wakes up
a cigarette in his hand to report
he never called in to work like he promised
has no clue about his papers. release.
no puritan guilty enjoyment he simply
launches himself to his fate self-propelled
upon the harsh rocks and then he submits
to gravity, saying: I have no money
my passport is red I've gone as far west
as they'll let me and I've seen all I
want to see of life outside


communication is not impossible.
we understand so much of each other
already without the words and gestures
getting our way is the hard part.
the earth is blue like dragonflies
passports of fortune blue like the night
but isn't it all just fate? or was
there something in those pictures
of swirling clouds from the weather balloon
to forecast this unlucky roll of the dice for red?


I've seen all I want to see he says
at less than twenty-five years of age
and I can imagine what this all looks like
to you: the stinking open toilets
mafiosi with videocams, decrepit women
selling the guts of sunflowers
food without refrigeration, spoiled
children and endless card games
sweet port wine and vodka at ten a.m.
don't ask me why you wanted to see this
or what you thought you would find here


I believe that mars is red, the bloodshot red
of the eyes of a drunken ukrainian soldier
red of corrections red of a passport
entry stamp the borderline red of a highway map
red without seeing, red without being
red from lack of curiosity, red with embarrassment
red love and ire. I have looked I have beheld
I have pressed my nose to the glass
I have switched the set on and off enough,
red as the dawning millennium which
for two billion chinese means nothing at all


back home we are still martians, foreigners:
ugliest word in europe
of miracles, modern sewage systems
hot running water and working streetlights
while by the black sea on a dusty road
dragonflies mate in unfinished hotels
stuck waiting twenty-five years for a roof
and mars is the red of rusting cranes
red of a diode blinking away on the side
of the compliant, sailing robot
taking two years to get there,
blind as a bat.

Crimea, Ukraine, 1997

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