Sarah Dubinsky


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Voronezh is Russia

The black bread baking
The bath houses basting
The cold wind wasting
Perfectly sunny days

I lost it in Russia

With snow so high
The babushka in the basement
Exited through her window
Smelling of buckwheat pancakes

And Russians didn't smile

Except with metallic teeth
And only with knowing you
My neighbor fixed my t.v.
Using his gold incisor and a fork

But that was over twenty years ago

When Marxist Leningrad went back
To its old name of Petersburg
When the city Voronezh was known For the worst VCRs in the world

Daylight hid

Celebrating spring in a blizzard
On the eve of "Butter Week"
Eating cakes of fat and sour cream
As men slick-climbed oiled poles for prizes

Malaise set in

Talking to my landlady
Who missed Communism
The weekly massages
And hot water that flowed
like water should

I was isolated

Reading English language textbooks
Watching dubbed Brazilian Soap Operas
Or Sci-fi
With Russian subtitles

I howled on the roof

With the stray dogs in packs
With the haggard moonlighters
With the vodka drunks driving gypsy cabs
With the old lamenting the pensions spent

I near died

In a Voronezh suicide
Spewing my piss and vinegar mind
The tic bulging in my left eye
That finally did subside when I boarded
American Airlines


Sarah Dubinsky is an attorney and the writer of Catladies: The Musical That Makes Lawyers Purr. This poem is dedicated to her first psychotic break, which occurred while studying abroad in Russia�s version of the Midwest: Voronezh, Russia.