I've realised: with head shaved bare
I look like Gumilev -
soldier and adventurer,
lover of Akhmatova -
but with the face, the eyes,
the close-cropped skull,
the fleeting likeness ends;
my executioner resides within;
I realise it's doubtful
I'll see thirty-five again;
oncology has made me very thin.
Besides, I've never been
to Africa...

But I am haunted by that face
a little like my own (these days);
it pains me that I'll never hear
his living voice reciting poems:
five horses he gave me,
my friend Lucifer
wild horses that course
on the edge of despair -
five steeds were the gift
of my friend, Lucifer
and like rhinestones the stars
in Akhmatova's hair...

poet's biography ->