Friday 24 March 2023

Three Poems by Antonia Alexandra Klimenko


Art Isn’t Dead—It’s Still Dying 


                                                 “like Dali’s melting clocks” 

                                                          --Steffen Horstmann                                                                                               

How you plan to kill time 

means nothing to me 

as your troops invade my body 



the city falls to its knees 

I hold it crying in my arms 

as I fall    in love with strangers 


Come   my friend 

let us crucify the hour— 

minute-hands nailed to the cross-- 

our faces slowly turning 

like Dali’s melting clocks 

to and from the horizon 


Please   let us hurry!  We must go!     

There is no arguing 

the yes and no of night and day   


But first 

let me murder the piano 

one by one     and in every key— 

lifting and lowering each tone 

into its ebony grave   its ivory tower— 

raising even the dead 

in living colour 

as only an Impressionist can 

who draws pictures and no conclusions— 

my blood spilling onto 

the human canvas 

stretched beyond all measure— 

lamp-shades of skin and ash 


(How beautiful the light 

that carries the weight 

of its own unbearable absence) 


See how the undying wave to you   now 

from the unframed corners of my mouth 

(that other gas oven) 

in muted screams of crimson  and orange                            

bewildered yellow   muffled brown   acoustic blue 

How sudden inspiration  Dada!!!  Mama!!!“                        

can explode 

like shooting stars       or automatic fire 

into the tone-deaf illusion of pitch-black Nothingness



let me recreate    

the fluorescence of your smile   

let me reinvent myself 

as I   on display 

walk these random streets 

freshly garbed in widows weeds   

Paris 1942 


Even now   as I speak 

I am painting my screams green 

I am dying my hair red 

(as only the colour blind can) 

I am changing my name to Violette 

and I am returning    to that other country 


I  a Russian da-da refugee   

as cumbersome  as obscure   as open     

as any French Door by Marcel Duchamp— 

my windowpanes—translucent fragile cities of light— 

my memory  polished beyond recognition 

my nose pressed to your shattered glass— 

Paris  my mirror 


O Paris 

How often I have wandered your truth—    

looking for me     in search of you 

And where is God when I need Her now 

to find my way back in the dark? 


Please  let us hurry!  Let’s go home! 

Let us marry the bed 

Let us marry the mirror 

Let us marry this moment—- 


my fingers kneeling before yours in prayer 

folding the blessings of faceless angels 

into the corners of my mouth 


Only this     There is no other moment                       

Only this 


crossing the threshold of Dream             

passing through our veil of tears 

crossing myself 

as you enter me 


the window of my reflection 

transcendent  decoded 

Holy  Yessssss 



La Vie en Rouge 


Brave heart   depraved heart 

City of rose-tinted glass 

Heart   at my unframed window 

Heart   with your thumb up my ass  


Oh Rouge!! 

how softly you weep   

onto cobblestone— 

the freshly cut grass 


Pulsing Portal    eternal immortal      

imposing muscle   scalpel in hand-- 

your open-head surgeries  

your mouths   your wounds  too many to count 

Heart    ready to beat the band 


Beating!  Beating! Beating!   heart 

with your Billy clubs   your gases   

In-Seine River  

                         of blood and tears 


Red heart   dead heart 

in your bright yellow vest  

how you cried out in vein   all these years 


Sainted heart    not for the faint-of- heart 

no longer the pale pink lie 

I’ll live   to see red   yet another day 


Cross my heart    and hope to die 



Our Lady  


Flames scorch your walls   your wood beamed ceilings  

Gargoyles lick the smoke filled air  

Your ancient timbers once echoed in forests  

Now turn to ash    but you’re still there  


Centuries have not obscured your face  

Nor revolutions your holy brow  

How you’ve looked at the world through rose-coloured glass  

How saints pass through you even now                                    


How many have entered your sacred space  

Like the mirrored moon from behind her veil  

Bright flickering stars crown your thorny head  

They would raise your roof but to no avail  


As April springs into fragrant flower  

Memory stands transfixed   transformed  

We are all but hunchbacks in the Bell tower  

We were all meant to be reborn  


Surreal Architect of Untold Meaning  

Unfolding petals  on the tremulous Seine  

How you inspire   mute words on fire  

The passion of love  the burst of flame  


Living Canvas   City of Light  

Your candles lit from within our souls  

The intimate silence of your unspoken prayer  

It is for us    for whom the bell tolls  


I hear them now  

at my tear-stained window  

Ave Maria Ave Maria  

Just beyond the River’s bend 


Hymns in the night  

Angels of Light  

Glimpses of iconic vision 


Our heart is melting  

The world is turning  

Paris is burning 



Antonia Alexandra Klimenko was first introduced on the BBC and to the literary world by the legendary James Meary Tambimuttu of Poetry London–-publisher of T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Henry Miller and Bob Dylan, to name a few. After his death, it was his friend, the late great Kathleen Raine, who took an interest in her writing and encouraged her to publish.

A nominee for the Pushcart Prize, The Best of the Net, and a former San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion, she is widely published. Her work has appeared in (among others) XXI Century World Literature (which she represents France) and Maintenant : Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art archived at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. 

She is the recipient of two grants: one from Poets in Need, of which Michael (100 Thousand Poets for Change) Rothenberg is a co-founder; the second—the 2018 Generosity Award bestowed on her by Kathleen Spivack and Joseph Murray for her outstanding service to international writers through SpokenWord Paris where she is Writer/ Poet in Residence.

Her collected poems On the Way to Invisible is forthcoming in 2023. 



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