Poetry Suite by Igor Brezhnev

Editor Sam Preminger, Poetry, January 14th, 2019

"what i have done is done despite / the waving cloth and anthems"


Poetry by Igor Brezhnev

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A word from the editor:

On July 4th, 2018 NAILED published a single poem broken into 67 stanzas: ‘america is…’ by Igor Brezhnev. In the six months since this poem first appeared, Brezhnev has gone on to publish a second volume of poetry, record an album of spoken verse, and perform at countless readings all while actively supporting the artists around him. He’s made himself a pillar within his adoptive community and as such I’m elated to feature more of his work which has generously been tendered through the writing and recordings below.

In what follows, Brezhnev writes urgently, crafting poems which are alive in our world, and he does so with vulnerability and grace. Take note of the dates associated with each composition. These are young poems and to bare them before an audience requires courage, or perhaps something beyond. Perhaps what we’re witness to in these words is an unbarred trust. Trust in oneself as an artist. Trust that the reader will come to the page not as a judge, but as an ally and fellow passenger. Trust in the tradition, in the process, and in the poems. In this manner, Brezhnev acts as a poet of humanistic faith.

As you read these lines and listen to the timbre of his voice, it’s my hope that this same faith might resonate in each of you. May you might find the strength to be vulnerable and advocate for the artistry around you. May you discover a sense of urgency as well, a reminder that we are all together in this world, on this day. In the final piece of this suite, here included exclusively in video, an appeal is addressed to poets, but let it be clear that by the author’s vision a poet cannot be so narrowly defined as one writing verse on a page. Rather, Brezhnev speaks towards a potential in each of us, asking us to consider large questions. What is the work of poetry? Whose privilege is it to perform these tasks? Whose responsibility?

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second language

when does a language marry you?

is it when you have your first dream
without the need for subtitles?
is it when your toe cusses furniture
in words no dictionary teaches?
is it when songs escape your lungs
in the shower no longer exotic?
is it when you trust love to letters
squiggling familiar across paper?
is it when newsprint hurts more

than tears on blood?

did you have
         to divorce
                  the first?


portland, or / 11.04.18

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one day,
if one asks,
what murder
came for me—
ghostly words
raise the finger
and point to flags,
point to human sea,
point at them in mass
who suffer rich in hope
of becoming gild-refuse
someday by some chance.
let no group lay claim to me,
but the mad, the insane, who
seek better words, better sound,
better form and better movement
in every waking night and moment.
let no one say—he’s of this country
or of that one—let it be known both
have murdered me in subtle ways,
what i have done is done despite
the waving cloth and anthems,
any good of me is not of them,
but of the few true kind souls,
who share shelter in a storm.


portland, or / 9.20.18

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scarlet tanager

in front of my eyes,
retinas burnt,
a photograph glow
of a tangerine body,
on its side, still,
with wings of coal,
golden beak closed,
black claws curled—
presumed dead,
the atlantic flame
of the spring,
miles by thousand
along dotted lines
from centroamérica
to oaks of new york,
fuck-your-walls song,
chip-burr chip-chur,

but you had an end,

scarlet tanager

was your name.


portland, or / 5.20.18

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Header image is courtesy of Anton Krasnikov. To view his Photo Essay, go here.

To read and listen to Igor Brezhnev’s ‘america is…’, go here.

Igor Brezhnev is a poet, an author and an artist, amongst his other sins. He has been calling Portland, Oregon his home for the past five years. He has first-hand experience with confronting depression, homelessness, poverty, and xenophobia, as well as more common ailments like heartbreak and spilled coffee. Igor has authored three books: the book of possibilities (2012), dearest void (2016) and america is a dry cookie and other love stories (2018). You can hear Igor’s most recent poetry record ‘Good Days & Bad Days’ at igorbrezhnev.bandcamp.com.

Sam Preminger

Sam Preminger is a Portland-based poet. Their work has appeared throughout various publications and they hold an MFA from Pacific University.