Mannequin's Squelch To A Scherzo Of Atonal Music; On A Poem By Kosmosis Prutkov

[from a Gothic Tale by Kosmosis Prutkov]


With its baleful eyes, it stares at you.

"How dare you suggest," it shrieks in a high pitched voice,

"that anyone, someone, pulls the strings---that the

"motion I have acquired is not my own creation; or that

"I am some travesty of empty imitation.

"I am the artist of the performances I give;

"I am the choreographer of the dances I embody;

"the gestures I define; the words that I command.

"These are mine, and no one will take them from me.

"I have strolled across hundreds of stages;

"have been welcomed in hundres of venues;

"and have received the thundering applauce of

"of thousands who believe in my greatness.


"I am not an it, not a thing, not a neutral entity;

"rather, I am He; I am Him; I am the One for whom:

"trains will turn; coaches will pause;

"and pedestrians will gather at closed doors

"and spend even their last money, for their children's bread,

"upon a ticket, for the chance, even to stand and watch me.


"And you, Poet, do you think you have created me in

"long scrawls of bad measure recorded on foolscap pages,

"while a single candle flickers in your solitary chamber as

"you await the arrival of that adolescent, whom all

"Moscow has acclaimed (yes, even him) to be the most

"beautiful dancer ever to have mounted their stages.


"How I despise him; how I sneer at your impertinent praises

"published at every site that will have you;

"read by every sight that will look upon your words---about the

"perfection of his appearance, the agility of his limbs, and the

"erotic elan of his presence, clothed or naked."


Homunculus of hatred and resentment, it---this

thing of a fancy, perhaps the effect of a bad sandwiche of

spoiled meat and overly soured kraut; its

ignorance is greater than even your most satircal

characters'; its seething jealousy more petulant and

disturbed than even the maddest lunatic whose existence

you have ever told in one of your Gothic tales.


You can blot out the words; crumble the sheet and

feed it to the flame that consumes it to a last ash.

But the dismal smear of its horrific gaze, and the

echo of its almost demonically possessed and produced noise

linger even after the poem has been abandoned . . . until


your lover arrives, clad in fawn-gray tights,

long hair cascading over his bare, slender torso;

shoes in one hand, and a poet's shirt in the other; a

little spent from tonight's premiere; but in

your company he will soon recover his desire for the

gentle exertions and peaking pleasures that Love provides;


unaware of that perverse glare from infernally glowing eyes,

detatched from any physical substance hovering and

peering, unoticed, through your window, from the outer darkness of its

obscene and damnable existence on the farthest edge of chaos.





Author's Notes/Comments: 

This gothic tale by Kosmosis Prutkov was published, in Russia, in the summer of 1914, just prior to the commence of Wolrd War I.  Decades later it wasdeclared a fraud, an imitation, and a bad travesty bordering on plagiarism by the Bolshevik novelist, Maxim Gorky, who resented Prutkov's superior artistry and excellent poetic measure---to which Gorky's prose-encrusted words could never attain.


I have put into verse the prose translation of Zeph Zuilderzee.


I should like to acknowledge Dalton's beautiful terrifying poem, "Can't Create," for the impetus that led to my humble English of Kosmosis Prutkov's eerie poem.

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Pungus's picture

Honestly probably the best

Honestly probably the best thing i've ever read, especislly considering how personsl and relevant flaring.

Starward's picture

Thank you.  Coming from you,

Thank you.  Coming from you, that is quite a compliment.


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