Dzvinia Orlowsky

The Fortieth Day | Pussy Riot/Want/Don’t/Want
November 29, 2015 Orlowsky Dzvinia

The Fortieth Day


Now she called forth nights of a different kind of brilliance when the moon wrapped every thing with light—trumpeting yellow pumpkin blossoms, a water pump with a dropped handle resembling a rusty beard, an old chain saw depression at the top of a tree stump—things outside that scratched or crumbled spoke with flimsy or hoarse voices.  A minute passed…then another.  Old roses opened fearless and beautiful on this day of sadness.  Since, flowers were no longer just flowers, they blurred and stretched into transparent curtains walking in the breeze of the raised storm window, walking, for those of us left behind.



Pussy Riot/Want/Don’t/Want


I thought you were a catch phrase for the not tonight, oh yes
tonight, but not two nights in a row!
of late middle age

how else to say it:

the thatched roofs are on fire
& the villagers have fled
except this woman
whom you left behind,

her skirt rising in flames,
wild heat,

a wreckage of K-Y and Oil of Olay

* * *

O graying fraying housebound hive,
you’re not my  problem,

though I will admit

your spreading reflection in the hand held mirror
looks, this year,

don’t make me say it,

wiser –

if not for love or song,

* * *

Can a finger dip into honey

in late January?

Can red wine stream like blood down my legs?

This afternoon, huddled against the cutting winter wind
in front of Boston’s State House,
we protested

Putin must go!

            Yanokovich is a cesspool!

while you, Prison punk prayer,
turn the world’s attention



I thought you were a catch phrase for the want-don’t want
of late middle age,


(oh pussy, what a riot, I had you all wrong)

Pushcart prize poet, translator, and a founding editor of Four Way Books, Dzvinia Orlowsky has published six full-length poetry collections including her most recent, Bad Harvest, a 2019 Massachusetts Book Awards “Must Read” in Poetry.  Her co-translations with Ali Kinsella from the Ukrainian of Natalka Bilotserkivets’s selected poems, Eccentric Days of Hope and Sorrow, (Lost Horse Press), was a finalist for the 2022 Griffin International Poetry Prize, the Derek Walcott Poetry Prize, ALTA’s National Translation Book Award in Poetry, and winner of the 2020-2021 AAUS Translation Prize.  Her and Ali’s co-translations from the Ukrainian of Halyna Kruk’s selected poems, Lost in Living, is forthcoming from Lost Horse Press in spring, 2024.  Dzvinia’s new poetry collection, Those Absences Now Closest, is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press in fall, 2024.