Black and white ink painting of a tiger

Tiger | Evgeny Turaev / Shutterstock

“The Big Cats” is a 12-part poetry cycle written and read by Val Vinokur, and published weekly at Public Seminar. For more, read Part IPart IIPart III, Part IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart X, and Part XI.





The platelets of love clog
the arteries of sense,
movement, plaque the veins
of retreat and restraint.
Like the dreamer in “White Nights,”
I see each of you (& me) in a box
inside a box in a box, nervous
nesting dolls pursued by
invisible assailants, and
instantly I fall “in love, with
no one of course. Just my ideal…
From a distance…”

Across an infinity of Russian,
an infinitive gathers into
an imperative: prosnutsa––
to wake up––from the word
sohn––which means both slumber
and the dream that flickers there.
Awakened from a deep dream:
a type, a character awake in a box,
sometimes just a name, lower case
white on black.

Would that I could rescue each
of us. Only then, who would rescue
each of us from a type like me––
a dreamer who forgets his dreams?

(March 2021)