Application of Shadows / A. Molotkov


poems by

A. Molotkov

ISBN: 978-1-59948-694-9,  82 pages, $14

Release Date:  October 2, 2018


A. Molotkov was born in Russia, moved to the US in 1990 and switched to writing in English in 1993. His poetry collection The Catalog of Broken Things came out in 2016; Synonyms for Silence is forthcoming in 2019. Published by Kenyon Review, Iowa Review, Massachusetts Review, Atlanta Review, Bennington Review and Tampa Review (among others), Molotkov is winner of various fiction and poetry contests and an Oregon Literary Fellowship. His translation of a Chekhov story was included by Knopf in their Everyman Series. He co-edits The Inflectionist Review. Please visit him at

Marvelous things happen in these longish, formally inventive poems– I learned that “Ice is reduced to memory” and that when “you raise your hand…the moon is / back.” The lines of these poems know the art of “skating without a soul.” The voice here is curious, seeking wonders. Perhaps the ultimate wonder here is like a lady who “lives on the street corner. / Her telescopic eyes /seek out / beings like you.” ~Ilya Kaminsky


What I find myself both intrigued and compelled by inside the shifting narratives of Anatoly Molotov’s poems is how we are called upon to identify our own disorientation in a world whose transience he deftly enacts. Our perspectives shaken, the world we thought we knew in question, his poems beautifully underscore our illusive search for meaning in the lives we think we live—and I can’t think of a better thing for poetry to do. ~Maxine Scates


A. Molotkov has created a synesthetic-like universe where one cannot afford to “buy a soul.” These are startling poems of paradox and ambiguity: a survivor’s language of self and other, the self in other, in which memory and death circle, and time collides. Objects, animals, the natural world, and the sky are metaphors, not things themselves, and “even shadows dream.” Ursula K. Le Guin, Tomaz Salamun and Charles Simic would find home here. ~Willa Schneberg, Oregon Book Award Recipient in Poetry

The Persistence of Music

Yesterday, blue rain fell on me. I found my hair on the pillow: lovely beige clumps,
dry like distance.
I remember your hands running through it. I’m on read-only access.

There is nothing unique about being archived. Next upgrade may be my last. I recall
your final breath
drawn through the tube, the DNA collector’s smile as I waited.

You are pure data now, immune to time, as my memory fades. They say
the Outer Planets
are more hospitable to my kind, but I’m loath to leave this place we shared.

Maybe I should sing again. But who would listen? My survival stock drops daily. Tomorrow,
an afterthought.
Your DNA reveals compassion skills, something I have always valued.

I noticed you first in the maintenance line, handing out plugins, your smile
patient and kind,
the way you paid attention to everyone, even lower grade aliens.

You reminded me: there are still songs to sing. Without you, I don’t know how
to be me.
I lack self-confidence, I doubt my uniqueness index, the very thing you used to like about me.

Is a song too small, cowardly? Can music matter to those in pain and
beyond pain?
Your DNA descends from homo sapiens – how old-fashioned. To me,

you were breathtakingly beautiful, no matter your origins. You wanted me to sing,
not for you,
but for myself and those who can hear. You made my future possible,

you helped me even as your own future was coming to an end. You’d mentioned a pending upgrade,
but I ignored you. My blindness bites, chews at me. I’m knee deep in song.

I wish we could replay with full audiovisual feedback, rewind. You were the all of all,
and even this
doesn’t say enough. You were the only path, and you ended. I open myself to what

you lacked in me, to the way you wanted me to be. One of the Outer Planets will be named
after you,
preserved in thought and harmony, so others can fondly say you, not knowing it’s you.

I love you more since you were shut down. You tick in me without winding. I know you
bit by bit.
I learn from your absence. My mouth is dry, my vocal chords atrophied, yet I sing.




if I take the jar inside
the water will spill
but how do I know this?

I forgot my own future
when I became engulfed in you
so much darkness
outside your well-lit room
I remain in the dark

if you let me shiver at the door
and freeze to death
as the jar freezes

I will be
your truest love
your empty stranger



if you take me home
let it be my home

I study longing

silence is the sea
we glide on uninterpreted

I remember thinking that
before I emptied my thoughts
into you

we can talk about the jar
and fall asleep
before the snow starts

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