Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax
{russian spies}
  tommy swerdlow

I am only falling in love with Russian spies
Nothing else will do
A Ludmila or possibly a Zoya
To crack the code
find the map to my dingy attic
and make me bullet stuffed pyroshki
A Svetlana or an Olga
to look at me with dead gray eyes
A pure heroic love
A people’s love
A love devoid
of all emotion
A bond based on effort and espionage
And Trotsky always in mexico
Playing chess with Roberto bolano
And Catinflas

I am only falling in love with Russian spies
Women who are capable
Of unearthing my microfilm
From a Rosenberg pumpkin patch that matters
Dried flowers everywhere
Peasant aprons
automatic pistols
the byzantine embrace
of Evgenia, or Malvina
still on the right side
of her hips going
totally Chernobyl

Riding that sad old Stlain train toward the east
Gulags and picnics
All Jewish dissidents rounded up
But not me…
I’m in love with Oksana
I have protectsya
And I have learned to be kind
And not give a fuck
What happens to you
And the sad train
Doffs its smoke hat
To the last tarkovsky sky
Who could not be sentimental
With Tatanya showing you
The cyanide capsule
between her teeth
for the state she was only ready
to be loyal
but for me
she is ready to bite down
and revalue everything

kindness is so subjective
during a cold war
and niceness
so overrated at all times
I learned that from Nahdezda
She told me
To not be so easy on myself
And that torture
Is alchemy
that what is important
is to stay calm at all times
there is nothing to worry about
none of us
Get away with anything
Not even the children
Not even the romanoffs
Not even the west
And she sticks the clip
In the handle
Of her Makarov
puts on her trench coat
and her medal of st. vladamir
And tells me she will be home
to make dinner
and I am going to
let her make dinner
and when she walks back in that door
and presents me with my entire dossier
I am going to thank her
And read it calmly
And either she will shoot me
Or we will eat