Tag Archives: nabokov


“All my best words are deserters and do not answer the trumpet call, and the remainder are cripples.”
— Vladimir Nabokov, Invitation to a Beheading

If I had a brand new fountain pen
and a fresh bouquet of pencils,
perhaps I could reclaim my words
from my fallen writing utensils.

I might start writing the unknown thing,
now just an infusorial quiver;
it’s hidden just below the surface
rippling in this dammed mental river.

If the paper before me was ivory
and free from stray creases and marks,
perhaps a sudden inspiration would come;
perhaps I could summon some sparks.

Yet to make a word come alive,
to make a whole line iridescent —
’tis the challenge within these words,
to heal this poet convalescent.

This incurable disease in my head —
writer’s block with which I’m afflicted —
allows no room for words; instead, it
keeps my inspiration constricted.

The frustrated scribbling on paper
is all my resistant brain will allow;
forming somewhat coherent rhyme is
a task of not here and not now.

I’ve stared at the words for too long now
for this to be anything but a game.
“Soul ship” — what the hell does it mean?
Thanks for the fucking writing prompt, James.

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From Here To Alaska

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins, je t’aimais, je t’aimais!
Everything before you blunders may be,
those pathetic girl-children in my princedom by the sea;
none were so dulcet or angelically heady.

Never have I experienced such agony.
Exhibit A: Humbert Humbert, foul, bereft.
Jury, exclude me from the names of old paedology
(admittedly justified on account of her age),
shielded as she was from my aging ape eyes
by her mother — who ultimately knew the sort of jay
I was, thus our forbidden love. Chastised as moral decay,
our modern human passion was consumed by a hell
furnace of localized lust. As I look back on them,
those wretched months of yore, ladies and gentlemen,
you surely can see how I fell victim to the throe
of her scarlet rose, that dazzling poppy;
I, a bastard infatuate who ignored her Cue.

Oh, my girl, we shall die happily ever after. Come as you are
to my waiting arms, radiant, relaxed; caress
me with your twilight eyes — for all the world, ma chérie petit!
But this is the only immortality I may share with you.
Lolita, my Lolita, qu’ai-je fait de ta vie?

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if I could trouble you
longer in my melancholy, and with utmost respects:
Only her absence from the concord of children’s voices is why
she is my sin, my story— my darling, dolorous and hazy.

[Courtesies and apologies to Vladimir Nabokov and Tim Minchin for the inspiration.]

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