Andrey Kneller

Andrey Kneller was born in Moscow, Russia. At the age of ten, his family moved to start a new life in America. Through hard work and dedication, Kneller was quickly able to learn English and became fluent in both languages. Kneller first began to write poetry when he was thirteen years old, and has since written hundreds of poems. Fluent in both English and Russian, he has also translated poetry by Aleksander Pushkin, Boris Pasternak, Vladimir Vysotsky and other Russian poets. Kneller is now a student at Brandeis University in Boston.

I've lost you...

I’ve lost you, haven’t I?
The time moves slower.
My words fall silently
Like leaves in autumn.

Inside an empty church,
where mass just ended,
I’m Christ, whose open arms
now hang suspended.

Love flourishes and fades.
One day, a god; the next —
a homeless beggar.

Perhaps, it’s for the best, —
no love—no jealousy.
Wash down my farewell kiss
with sips of Hennessy.

We’ve loved each other, dear.
How can this love be over?
The cold receiver falls
Like an old revolver.


The greatest lies are those we tell ourselves.
I once believed my words were heaven-sent,
Arranged old chapbooks on the dusty shelves,
And found some meaning in a compliment.
Behind a wooden desk, I spent each night,
In yellow light which made the pages ancient,
Believing that, like God, a man could write
The world into existence, with some patience.
Through all of this, I never paused (to breathe!)
To see that life passed by unnoticed while
I looked for adjectives, that beauty’s span is brief,
And writing is an act of self-denial.


This town is a maze of winding streets,
Built inefficiently, but as a form of art,
They are a testament to man’s creative feats,
And every intersection plays its part.
A college graduate, I live in what remained
Of an archaic duplex, right behind
A tiny church that never bred a saint,
And should it be demolished, few would mind.
I’ve studied mathematics, now I pass
My knowledge to indifferent adolescents
That hardly find the time to come to class,
To talk to friends and to ignore my lessons.
I read and write when time allows. I tend
To find peace in poetry, but mostly,
I like to read out loud in my bed;
My girlfriend falls asleep to Mayakovsky.

Organ Donors

Poets and prophets are stricken with poverty.
Post-modernism is all about the profits.
Quit counting paper! On your street, there’s probably,
At least a couple of starving prophets.

I’ve reserved a place for myself on the corner,
In a cardboard box, with a dumpster near.
Sir, are you a registered organ donor?!
Is there anyone willing to lend me an ear?

I’m pregnant with poetry, anything will help!
I’ve sold my soul into prostitution!
If you ignore me, I’ll have to poison myself,
Inhaling the toxins of urban pollution!

Sir, I implore you! My words are orphans.
I can’t support them on my petty pension.
Please, kind people, donate your organs!
The poets are starving for some attention!

by Marina Tsvetaeva

You walk, somewhat like myself,
Hunched, and not looking up.
I used to lower my eyes as well!
Stop here, you passerby, stop!

Having gathered your flowers in a
Bouquet, read the stone by the gate,
It will say—I was named Marina,
And I lived to the following date.

It’s a grave, but don’t treat it as such
My spirit won’t rise to haunt you.
I, myself, loved laughing too much
Whenever I wasn’t supposed to.

My hair was once curled and twisted
And blood used to rush to my face.
Hey, passerby, I also existed!
Wait a bit, don’t abandon this place!

Hey passerby, pluck a wild stem
And after that – pick this berry.
No berries are sweeter than
The ones from a cemetery.

Only don’t stand there, sighing,
And please, do not hang your head.
But rather think of me lightly
And afterwards, lightly forget.

How the sun shines down upon you!
Its rays set the dust aglow.
And don’t let my voice disturb you
And vex you from down below.

To B. Pasternak
by Marina Tsvetaeva

Dis-tances: miles, versts…
They dis-pelled us until we dis-persed,
So we would act as we were told
In two corners of the world.

Dis-tances: versts, spaces…
They dislocated us, they displaced us,
They disjoint us, crucified on display,
And observed there, to their dismay,

How our tendons joined, our ideas broadened…
Without discord,—just in disorder,

Disconnected by a wall and a dike.
They disbanded us like

Eagles-conspirators: versts, spaces…
We're not disunited,—they just disengaged us.
Across the slums of the globe’s range
As if orphans, we’re disarranged.

For how many Marches now, our hearts
Have been cut like a deck of cards?!

The Wind
by Boris Pasternak

I’ve ceased to be, but you’re alive.
The wind is whimpering and sobbing.
It rocks the forest and the cabin.
At once all of the tree trunks bending,
Not individually each pine,
Over the endless hills extending,
Like bodies of the yachts aligned
Along the coast, a storm withstanding.
And all this not from heedless pride
Or from a pointless, frenzied folly,
But to compose a lullaby
For you in time of melancholy.


Life will one day return to normal.
There’s nothing that time can’t tame,
and her name,
on the page of the daily journal,
will dissolve on the fiery tongue of the flame.

Somehow, I’ll have to adjust and forget her.
Love is neither eternal nor constant.
We’ve parted.
I’m sure that it’s all for the better.
Her features will fade with the russet sunset.

Why do I lie to myself? It’s never that easy.
My head is tolling like a church bell tower.
Bumping into the trees,
I’m coughing and wheezing,
and so far it’s been only a half an hour.

The onlookers watch, not daring to help me...
Get out of my way, I’m a raging elephant!
Don’t you hear how my soul is yelping,
gripping the bars
of the trembling skeleton?

Don’t you see how I’m stumbling,
sad and wearied,
with the weight of affection around my ankle?
Clearly, it’s love ... clearly
it’s love that has me this mangled.

I’m losing faith in the power of calendars,
time is no medicine for separation,
and hours scatter around
like scavengers
eating, eating away my patience.

I must have a fever, I’m shaking and quivering,
Talking to no one, conversing out loud.
Isn’t that her
crawling across the ceiling?
hanging up overhead like a dismal cloud?

I’m hallucinating, I cannot escape her...
Leave me alone, don’t you see I’m grieving?
Her smile appears on the face of my neighbor.
She mocks me and whispers to me,
“Good evening.”

Wherever I turn,
she appears to follow.
On every face, I seem to notice her grimace.
Everywhere that I look, I can see her shadow.
Look, up there!
up in the sky, she shimmers...


Look at the sunrays, people!
Those are her stretching
I am almost ready to leap now
toward her from the roof of my building.

Look how the sun is crashing
on the blade of the glowing horizon!
I’m stoned by this passion,
I am lost in light of her eyes now!

On the fork of a thousand roads,
drunk with the smell of the pines,
I wander
and hang my sorrowful notes
on the nerves of the telephone lines.

Answer me!
What can extinguish my love’s scorching flame?
Every night, waiting for her, I cram my body
into the window frame.

You, who’ve had a lot to cope with,
whose lives have long turned sour and dire,
know that
the doors of my ribcage are always open,
come and sit by the fire!

Do you hear the thunder of my whisper?
That is my soul on the stage of my tongue.
I need her, I miss her!
In her absence, my body is wrung...

These walls box me in.
Feeling lonely,
on the mattress, I curl like a snake, 
and depression collapses upon me,
with more force than the body can take.

Burdened by the weight of the silence,
I recall from the past,
and abruptly, two overcast eyelids
shut at once with a bang of a casket.

But even in dreams, her vision,
appears in the night and remains...
and I catch
her brief apparition,
with the butterfly net of my veins.


Though this bliss may appear unending,
both, the night and the dream must cease.
She is grinning at me,
as she vanishes into the mist...

The gray beard of the mist fills the alley,
raindrops beat on the drum
of my window.
Autumn mimics my sweet melancholy
and transforms itself into winter.

Homeless winds sing from under the bridges,
as the morning embraces the land.
There, I ramble,
feeding the pigeons 
out of the palm of my hand...

Once more, I am one with the landscape.
Like the valley, I’m covered with frost.
Like the shivering branches, my hands shake.
Like the trees,
I am standing exposed.

Have you noticed your son, Mother Nature?
In you sight, I still wander perplexed.
Separated from love,
I am raging,
Is it true that the spring will come next?

Dejected, I’ve looked high and low,
tread the Milky Way searching for answers,
lost my way in the winding snow,
now I stray here,
homeless and senseless.

Here, I drift with the winds as I cast
my eyes to the skies,
starless and bottomless,
I can change! Let me sweep the debris of the past
under the carpets of puddles.

Goodness, I pray you,
I have to see her!
I cannot go on any further without her!
I’ve poured my soul into the cold receiver,—
Listen to me!
I cannot love any louder!

Listen ... listen, up there! Do you hear me?!
You, angels, hovering up above me,
do not lie to me,
tell me sincerely,
could she possibly learn to love me?

This Love

Quiet down my heart,
       I’m confounded.
Over the mountains,
                         your trumpets
          too ardently.
The echo
          of your verse
        submerses me.
I beg of you,
My eardrums are bursting
enough of this!
Enough of this love!


This love is outrageous,
                                 I rage.
Without patience,
                      I rip open (my cage)
my ribcage,
               and whistling,
tear my heart to pieces.
                               It’s ripe,—
on each piece,
                   her initials are inscribed.
And senseless,
                  my eyes wander
          from N to T.
Submerged in thought,
           traces the road
from New York to Toronto
          with a pencil.

Answer me,
“Is it in you?”
                 If your answer is “no,”
rip through my sinew
and go.
If your answer is “yes,”
caress me
                but once
with its stress
                and leave me breathless...
...leave me deathless.
Answer me,
                “Is this love in you?”


I grow tense,
                    “Say it.”
              with a prayer.
         (those are your eyes)
reflect boundless
This love is beguiling,
it hides
 the corner
of life’s corridor
and behind that corner,
there’s a coroner.


I feel like a foreigner,
                    I don’t belong here.
What is this that I crawl on,—
all this fluff,                                     
                a cloud?
      “That is my shroud.”
          in this love,
                   I was buried alive.
There’s been a mistake,
              I was taken
to paradise,
         because she paralyzed
                                me with her eyes.
It’s too crowded here
  and oddly,
I miss
         my body.
“All right then...


I fall through the air
and awake
on a bus
          near Albany,
someone is calling me...
shaking me
“Please, sir,
            I must
       check your ticket.”
just take it.
“Reason for your vacation?”
                                near her...


           can you hear me?
Hear my heartbeat?
                        I need her...
I need her
          near me.
Reflect me
          with affection
       my identity,
whisper in my ear
              and beguile me!
         from above me
Tell me
       that she'll love me,
                            lie to me!


The heart is drained
                     and the ink
hasn’t dried yet.
Pull the shades lower.
It’s private,
don’t look over
my shoulder.
Too late to hide it,
                 it’s spilling,
                            it’s brimming over
the sink.
       In wild convulsions,
        it surges.
It floods the pages,
the streets, the churches,
the squares,
         the courtyards
                       and Eden’s orchards.
I can’t contain it,
                    this love is gorgeous!


           my soul
                    from above
with a thousand torches,
this love
       scorches me!
It burns inside me
   and tortures me!
The world
           is too small
         to hide me.
Now that you’ve nurtured me,
open your eyes!
On the crossroads,
I’m hanging exposed,
arms – crosswise
      across the skies.
Only notice me
and I’ll arise.

Final Judgement

All of my life,
I’ve transgressed against You!
Do what You will to me,—starve me and curse me, —
but just this once, listen to me
without scorn or censure, —
today, an atheist prays for mercy!

if You have the least bit of decency,
have pity on my soul,—it is tired and dismal, —
send the Holy Spirit to earth to visit me,
I need all the help I could get on this one.

Teach me
to verbalize the agony of my love lucidly,
write the words on my tongue as though on parchment.
Let her hear me out,
but know, if she refuses me,
I’ll see You for the final judgment!


You sit here, baffled,
eyes—ripe with tragedy,
not letting a word slip in-between deep sighs.
I can feel my body slowly losing gravity,
being pulled only to your troubled eyes.

You shrink like a criminal before the judge.
I hover above you, menacing,
Ignoring my threats, you’re still refusing to budge.
Tell me you love me, pantomime!

You seem to be dissecting my words pensively.
Fine. Take your time. It is all in your hands.
(Give me a clue. Say anything. Answer me!)
Not a word in response.
Somber silence descends.

No? Enough of this! I can’t endure this friendship!
Him or me?
We’ve long reached that point!
Pick one of us now and end this head-trip,
If you’d like, you can flip a coin!

Go to him! Let him call you, “honey.”
I’ll be waiting at the corner every time you part.
No matter how you try, you cannot outrun me,
carrying the burden of my heavy heart!

You’ll stay up with him, drinking Hennessey,
reminiscing, in an amorous rendezvous,
suddenly, the sun will rise, soaked in jealousy,
like the bloodied red eye of a bull.

As you’re kissing him, I’ll brush you slightly
with an autumn zephyr and disappear.
In the moment of passion, I’ll be right beside you
whispering poetry into your ear.

I won’t give you a moment of silence.
I’ll sit on your doorsteps, begging for alms.
You’ll never find another asylum
other than the refuge of my opened arms!

You’ll go to confession – I’ll pose as the priest.
I’ll trespass in the temple of God, if I have to.
I won’t let you go!
Out of pity, at least,
stay here for now,—you can fall for me after!

Please, don’t leave me! —
this is ridiculous! —
If you’re ashamed of me, dear, listen,
I will love you quietly and remain inconspicuous,
like an immigrant without a visa.

I will pickpocket kisses from you
on the busy subway
and leave you flabbergasted, like a great magician
with a sleight of hand can leave the public
believing in miracles with superstition.

Or if you wish, I can love you zealously, palpably,
play our love on the trumpet
on 42nd and Broadway,
turn your tears into gold through the magic of alchemy
and that will be merely the beginning of foreplay.

You don’t trust me?
With my poet’s salary,
You doubt that I could support your wants?
Do you see all these stars?
From my balcony,
I command them like castles, bishops and pawns.

With a sky for a ceiling and a cloud for a bed,
I’ll keep you in my arms where the time moves slower.
I’ll chase down your dreams with a butterfly net.
Tell me, what does he offer?!

Through my words, you’ll acquire such riches and fame,
wealthy kings will fight over your crumbs.
Kissing their wives, men will silence your name
and treasure it under their tongues.

Trust me! My verses will fill the temples,
I’ll teach the world to renounce false idols.
Tell me you love me
and the earth will tremble
from the heavy footsteps of our disciples!

Tell me you love me and, rest assured,
I will praise our love with such certainty
that we’ll break though the door of the vestibule
and together, we’ll enter eternity.