Sunday, January 15, 2012


By Pavel Chichikov

Lopshenga is a settlement alongside the White Sea,
Rolling tundra, sand and shingle, inaccessibility,
A dozen houses, kitchen gardens, potatoes and some greens,
But people live by fishing, according to their means

A radio for medical removal or advice,
Say a body breaks a hip by slipping on the ice,
A coffin for a burial is carried by flatbed,
There is no formal carriage for the isolated dead

I flew in once by helicopter one long summer day
Only for some hours before I went away,
That is how they liked it when the Oblast or Moscow
Stretched out an arm and finger to the people long ago

Excellent it is to be remote and out of reach
When government is well-disposed to sanction or to preach,
Hopeful were the villagers that Moscow could forget
Their minimal existence where the sea and tundra met

But over the horizon once, near Novaya Zemlya
A giant detonation lit the sky like an aurora,
The burst of an effusion rose of fifty megatons—
No matter how remote they were, they were the closest ones

By Pavel Chichikov

The law has ratified abortion
But demonstrate to us the dead child’s showing
And see the most of us recoil in horror and disgust

If that fetus is no child, why should they recoil?
Why revolt to see a simple mass of cells?
Even Romans at the Coliseum had more guts

They watched and cheered as mutilated losers
Were dragged out by the hooks of roustabouts—
We will not see a child hooked living from the womb

We turn our eyes away, cover up our eyes
Though eyes are closed when nightmares come
And we will see them in the dark, as in the light

It is still possible to draw the gasp of rage
To make the viewer turn away, in fury and disgust
To prove that sanity holds on to us, but just


The Poetry of Pavel Chichikov


cyurkanin said...

Added his Lion Sun to my Amazon cart. I'm pretty sure I've heard his name before but never read his poetry. Pretty interesting for this age. Do you have any books of his or have you just read what's available online?

Paul Stilwell said...

I have Lion Sun, which to my recollection (haven't read it for some time) left me feeling like I had been handled by the paw of that lion on the cover. By which I mean a good thing. Other than that book I've read his poems online and in St. Austin Review only. He posts new poems on his site every week - typically the new ones are up every Sunday or late Saturday. Definitely recommend bookmarking. He doesn't make money from the poetry he publishes either.

christopher said...

Thanks for the referal. Hey, you should sign up on GoodReads and we can compare our tastes...

Paul Stilwell said...

GoodReads - my first time hearing of it. Will check it out!

christopher said...

Good, let me know when/if you sign up! (or just type my name in the friend finder thing). Funny that I just started rereading Dead Souls last night, the main character's name is TchiTchikov. And funny too that Chichikov uses an Erols internet service address. Erols was one of the original video rental stores in the DC area (back when the competition was still on between Beta and VHS. I used to go there all the time as a pre-teen.

Paul Stilwell said...

Now that is's like a bunch of things just came together...

Paul Stilwell said...

Which Christopher are you? I signed up.

Enbrethiliel said...


I've been reading Chichikov online for years. Pentimento had a fascinating theory about who he might actually be: The Possible Conversion of Al Levine.

I use the past tense because someone who knows Chichikov seems to have contacted her with the key to the mystery, but she hasn't shared it on her blog. Wherever she may be, I'm still in theory land and loving it.

Paul Stilwell said...

Yes, I read that post and I took the non-response from Chichikov to be pretty good "evidence" that it is him. :)

I used to send him my poems as I wrote them and he was always friendly (and patient) to me.

christopher said...

Wow, where have I been? Not only am I late to Chichikov, I didn't even know he actually TOOK his name from Gogol (with a misspelling), I thought he was possibly NAMED after the character. Duh-doy, huh?

I'll find you Goodreads.

christopher said...

I sent you a friend request from Goodreads.