What Rough Beast | Poem for November 24, 2017

D. S. Butterworth
deliberations of the russian king

We need a Siberia. We need a purer
bloodstream of oil and vodka—we need
a new cocktail: nine parts vodka
one part gasoline. We’re all dying anyway,
we only need to admit it.
Like poorly mixed papier-mâché,
the powdered clay keeps falling from us.
(Soon I’ll be a real boy.)
Isn’t it the Cossacks play polo
with the carcass of a goat
or the heads of their enemies?
We need more of that.
Or were they immigrants?
Was it czars or Arabs wore
those flattened red party hats?
What we need about Russia
is the vastness. It suits us. Don’t they
call prairies steppes over there? We
can see Doctor Zhivago climbing
all the way to heaven after his goomar,
what’s her name, yeah—Lara,
in a blaze of balalaikas. That’s
another thing we need. Wasn’t it
Genghis Khan whose DNA is in 25%
of humanity? What’s not to like?
That’s a lot of matryoshka dolls.
We think of our daughter.
Hot matryoshka dolls.


D.S. Butterworth is the author of Waiting for Rain: A Farmer’s Story (Algonquin Books, 1992), The Clouds of Lucca (Lost Horse Press, 2014), and The Radium Watch Dial Painters (Lost Horse Press, 2011). His work has appeared in Cream City Review, The Wisconsin Review, The Louisville Review, The Portland Review, The Alaska Quarterly Review, The Santa Clara Review, The Midwest Quarterly Review, The Windless Orchard, Plainsongs, Flyway, Amoskeag, The Rockhurst Review, Poet Lore, The Seattle Review, Willow Springs, and The Baltimore Review. He teaches writing and literature at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.

SUBMIT to What Rough Beast via our SUBMITTABLE site.

If you want to support the mission and work of Indolent Books, consider making a tax-deductible contribution to Indolent Arts Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity.

Join our mailing list to receive news, updates, and special offers from Indolent Books.