Cost of Things

By Andrey Gritsman

Your license and registration, please!

Hands on the wheel.

Flashlight in your face,

blind spots of the eyes.

Have you been drinking, smoking,

thinking, honking, parking,

caressing, carousing?

What have you been up to?


Background check: adult male Caucasian,

currently not under arrest,

sensibilities mixed, agitated,

restrained, bruised, open

for soul mating.


$250—full service, oral extra,

tip is expected, but not required.

Usually they say they’d like to marry.

Remember: slave does not fuck the mistress!


Again, you don’t get straight A’s

by just coasting along.

Project is up in the air.

The board of education

parking lot full. They are real Huns, you know.

No respect in the use of bathrooms,

condoms stuck in the toilet.


The backlog is so bad

the editorial body does not even have time

to read its own work. And

there is no postage to send to eternity.


But, I don’t have anything else,

that’s all I have, except

fragments of voices.

I have the right,

I have the strength.

You have the right

to remain silent.


A native of Moscow, I emigrated to the United States in 1981. I am a physician who is also a poet and essayist. I have published five volumes of poetry in Russian. I received the 2009 Pushcart Prize Honorable Mention XXIII and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize several times (2005–2011), and also was on the Short List for PEN American Center Biennial Osterweil Poetry Award. My poems, essays, and short stories in English have appeared or are forthcoming in over 60 literary journals, including Amarillo Bay, Left Curve, Nimrod International Journal, Sanskrit, Blue Mesa, Confrontation, Cimarron Review, Euphony, The Fourth River, Absinthe: New European Writing, Hotel Amerika, Mad Hatter’s Review, New Orleans Review, Notre Dame Review, Wisconsin Review, Studio One, Denver Quarterly, Hawaii Review, Hunger Mountain, Permafrost, A Gathering of the Tribes, Poet Lore, Poetry International, Puerto del Sol, Reed Magazine, Richmond Review (London), Fortnight (N. Ireland, UK), Landfall (New Zealand), Ars Interpres (Stockholm, Sweden), The South Carolina Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Harpur Palate, Tampa Review, Texas Review, Verdad, and The Writer’s Chronicle. My work has also been anthologized in Modern Poetry in Translation (UK), Crossing Centuries (New Generation in Russian Poetry), The Breath of Parted Lips: Voices from the Robert Frost Place, Stranger at Home: American Poetry with an Accent, Visions International, and in Killer Verse: Poems on Murder and Mayhem.

I received my MFA in poetry from Vermont College. I run the Intercultural Poetry Series in a popular literary club, Cornelia Street Café, in New York City.

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