Daneil Gohman

                                                  Daneil Gohman

Konstantin kulakov





Tula, Russia


Exiting the hospital tower, turning from

the terror of bloodwork and shots, we whisk home


the sled with supple milk bags marked

МОЛОКО through the slush, a sheet of


deadly snow — kicked adrift by wind. Moving

beside me, there are worlds mother, womb-


like, a marian-blue light, circling—out

from the grocery:


The oscillating memory, Your Presence Lord.






It was never sense, but the

Singing of light. At six, I abandoned

the fraught letters of scrabble strewn

before our family of four


to color the ambulances smudged

blue and green through a window in rain:

a poet dizzied by the bilingual

burdened by the weight of sprouting








And my father, Oxford-educated, returning

with us to Russia, not a penny but


indebtedness writ to his leg. This was a

long-winter, brutalized homeland, tipping over


from KGB & Socialism to The New Oligarchs

& Oprichniks: But in my village of birth,


there were mud roads blanketed

in snow. Hot baths in the quiet and


the oratory of courage, filling the churches:


a grandfather smuggling scriptures

into his prison cell, and a father, setting


plays at a base in Vladivostok, waking

with money hidden in his chest.


“He is holy,” they said.







New York


To inherit the opulence, the progress of

empire is to inherit the weight of the


the underbelly, richly textured:

the toil, the toil, the toil of black and brown


bodies exploited, abandoned, pressed against walls, jailed, killed,

invisibilized—but resisting with raised fist. Here, to be born


is to find a foot, shifting, in the geography of color

and class: othered by immigrant Russianness,  


privileged by male whiteness, where bullets

are not new to graze her Brooklyn projects and where,


reaching your voicemail, I call your trendy uptown office, and you

call back: “dear wolf, they aren’t shocked that you called,                 


but by the weekly fact of gunshots.”





Now, stretched by digital

distances, disfigured by


Time’s compromise, I walk

course Manhattan Island,


haunted by flashes of

fatherhood in decay, thirsty


for power and fame. At home,

I light tree and inhale, my hand


pressed to the heat of your thigh.





“And they, for a moment, felt

The truth.

And for that moment came

Into the world, & like most

Of the rest of us

In the world.


They were actually, crying.”


—“Oklahoma Enters the Third World,”

Amiri Baraka




is the continuity, what word,

what image will string the marian-blue


songs of innocence to Baraka’s

“money-dick slavery” of experience,


the thrownness into the world: a torn-heart

pain to be carried

into the night . . .





“ . . . the secret silence,

outshining all brilliance with the intensity of their darkness.”

Dionysius the Areopagite


But when the truth emerges, roughened, a

            flickering icon, a gold-peeling talisman


carried gracefully into the battlefield of

the everyday, it will not be what is locked


into lone words, but it will be the dark-light, li-ark, emanating,

reflecting between faces, the iris


meeting the iris. And there, at the site of pain, I will lift it all

to You, Lord:


this is to the Soviets who violated my kin

and the Marxism that graces my way, this is to

the capitalists that exploit our poor,


and the religious liberty, the American free speech

that grants my family home, I lift it all:


the Image of God, roughened,

but irrevocable in us,


the marian-blue light, circling-out,

            and in the light,


                        the darkness.



                    —Owner of the Sun, Yoruba Religion

                                                         For Amiri Baraka


Purple night. Harlem/Columbia sounds of rat peeing in steel pipes.

Black music is Black power: sexual, liberated through lively breast notes—

something was just repressed: the embodied, intellectual fuck the Man

of pure being/singing. Still, mechanical Wall Street implodes into Olorun.



Konstantin Kulakov is an award-winning Russian-American poet born in Zaoksky, Soviet Russia in 1989. He is the recipient of the Greg Grummer Poetry Award, judged by Brian Teare. Kulakov's debut collection of poems, Excavating the Sky, was published by Dialogue Foundation Books December 4, 2015 and lauded by Kirkus, Cornel West, and David Rosenberg. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Phoebe, Tule Review, The Christian Century, Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, Tidal Basin Review, and WildSpice. Select poems have been translated into Russian, including a forthcoming translation into German. He lives in New York.