“When I was in the hospital
I had a big fat nurse
Who kept looking over my shoulder
At the book I was reading,
‘The Brothers Karamazov,’
By Gambling Man Fyodor
Of Czarist Russia, a Saint . . .” i
I am married to a husband called Gregory
Saint Gregory of the Pines
We live in a dacha
under the conifers deep in the frozen forest
of suburban North Jersey
Every winter gentle Gregorius
gets an armload of Russian novels
Dostoevsky and Dostoevsky and Dostoevsky
and settles down in the chair
You see, Gregorivich is better than me
A disciplined monk (and a hunk)
and I have met my match
my white whale
I am the old man and the sea
and this marlin is drowning me
His name is Karamazov
Make that Karamazov three
and these brother are driving me mad
Driving me to profligate drink
and ruining my Zosima think
Alyosha, I’m ready to bail out
on page 415
with almost four hundred more pages to go
You see, I have work to do
and other books to read, that are piling up in piles of three
But the Ks are slowing me down
and making me frown
I have chickens to roast
Pignoli nuts to toast
Onions to rake and mushrooms to bake
Floors need birch broom sweepings
Samovars polishing and tea drinking
Icons to venerate
Martyrs to imitate
Incense to censer
Paintings to contemplate (by Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy)
Devils to beat (“. . . behind the door, a real beefy one, a yard and a half tall or more, with a thick tail, brown, long . . . ” ii)
and deadlines to meet
And I can’t do anything
because I’m stuck on page 415
i Kerouac, Jack. Mexico City Blues, 55th Chorus. (New York: Grove Press, 1994). p. 55.
ii Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov. (New York: Vintage Classics, 1991). p. 169.
Short story by Ammon Baker.
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