Three poems by Anatoly Molotkov

31 August 2019
Author :  

Born in Russia, A. Molotkov moved to the US in 1990 and switched to writing in English in 1993. His poetry collections are The Catalog of Broken Things, Application of Shadows and Synonyms for Silence. Published by Kenyon, Iowa, Antioch, Massachusetts, Atlanta, Bennington and Tampa Reviews, Hotel Amerika, Volt, Arts & Letters and many more, Molotkov has received various fiction and poetry awards and an Oregon Literary Fellowship. His translation of a Chekhov story was included by Knopf in their Everyman Series; his prose is represented by Laura Strachan at Strachan Lit. He co-edits The Inflectionist Review. Please visit him at



Ten Mysteries




The team ponder: was a murder committed? The alleged criminal surrenders, yet her confession fails confirmation. Every detail, invented, especially the violence against mannequins. I remember every moment. I want more of every moment. History of past crime inconclusive, no crime intentionality observed.




The space under the floorboards is recognized as the most likely hiding place. Listening to darkness has this effect. Many years pass.




The old woman has been dead all along, even her bones have not been recovered. The suspect is dead. Few clues exist, new ones are welcome. When memory moves in, reason is amiss, adrift. Give me something else, not what I ask for. All hidden places will be considered. The aging detective awaits the end of his days wondering what leads to follow in the afterlife.




A mannequin’s head is found on the pillow. Some experts suggest its baldness is an oblique reference to a hairdresser. I will not lie to you inside this imagining. Ominous individuals are involved. Many years pass.




Nothing transpires without a series of immeasurably subtle, potentially fateful steps. Always time, dust. I shiver at the thought of feeling. Parents shed tears, children shed parents. The body in the broom closet insists that the mystery’s façade be examined. No one has turned oneself in. The team debate historical and philosophical texts to take into account.




Ominous individuals convince the alleged criminal to sell his body parts. Surveillance equipment is off during key scenes. The hairdresser may be responsible. It’s unfair; some of the team cry. I long to return to the rest of my life and know the road is lost. Mannequin trafficking is suspected. Many years pass.




The mannequin’s head shines with its own mental electricity. I watch you, hear you, feel you inside this envisioning. Now the old woman is enlisted to travel the world of the dead. She cries herself to sleep every night.




Someone has found the money. The upscale residents are adamant the mystery be solved ASAP. If only I could stay here, inside this listening. The team are resentful, may sabotage the investigation for the fear that solving the mystery is not in the best interests of all. Many years pass.




The old woman wakes to an optimistic sun and scattered commas of clouds. No mail today. I lose a part of myself in you so I must return to be whole again. The money is hidden under the floor boards. Everyone she loves is dead. She holds the mannequin in her arms.




I want more of every moment after it’s happened. Whoever you are, I will not betray you in this remembering.


*“Ten Mysteries” previously published by The Antioch Review




Ten Tools




not so much


the open space


but the space


between open things


not so much

open space

the silence


but the knowledge

your tool

of after

nuclear bomb




my bones in


particular order


*“Ten Tools” previously published by The Cincinnati Review.



Ten Questions



How does my memory un

-cover me?


What if I misuse

my eyes?


Are autumn trees happy

to undress?


Can I make up more

than everything?


What will

storm clouds


of me?


How do I move

with my love

caught in concrete?


What gift is this

short drive, rusty

engine of us?


When silence

comes, how will I

know to let it in?


How do I sing with all

this past

in my lungs?


*Ten Questions” previously published by Toe Good Poetry.




Literary Editor

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