In the port of Saint Petersburg
wavy-haired mathematicians
exhale vodka and sanctions-ringed cares
and caviar and smoke-circles
and vodka, questioning
the nature of consciousness, until they lose theirs.

In the port of Saint Petersburg
nests of Greek-column-roofed
cloud-tickling fortresses where crane-drivers bask
in the sub-arctic majesty
pull mothers with hamster-sized
terriers from Tomsk, Omsk and grey Krasnoyarsk.

On the peninsula outside the city she sidles,
baseball-capped, Nike-shod, board-chested, bulb-nosed.
Cigaretteless and coughing, she rummages for roubles.
Her black eyes seek out the sleek-dressed, -groomed, -composed.

A mother pulls two flailing eczema-flecked elbows
down a bus that is really a van, then an aisle
where trout sail through air-choked then bubbling exile
as a name-tag-stamped Vladislav suppresses a smirk.
Sprung-up weeds sprayed on the ground coarsely sell clothes,
sell melons called ‘torpedoes’, sell kvass, leather boots,
English tuition and prostitutes
on the streets of the port of Saint Petersburg.

A mouse-moustached crane-driver strokes out a memory
coated in evaporated milk
and ideology, of when his rod didn’t wilt,
plump men with starched epaulettes found him his work,
pages of Pushkin were his mental armoury,
plumbers’ eyes were ignited by a Tchaikovsky flash,
his muscles were missiles in a bunker of flesh
and girls kissed him, in the port of Saint Petersburg.

On the peninsula outside the city she shuffles
with crumpled old tsars and then scurries along,
pink-tracksuited, Calvin-Klein-cropped-topped, and catches
odd kopecks by warbling a Ukrainian song.

In the port of Saint Petersburg
brides and grooms pose
along lion-faced bridges and fish-rich canals
as children with scooters
and skateboards stroke rabbits
outside palaces of Van Goghs and Chagalls.

In the port of Saint Petersburg
tanks heave down promenades,
warships hoot comfort from freshly-scrubbed chimneys
at smog-blackened screeching-wheeled
trams full of rumblings of
touchpaper inroads by rocketed enemies.

On the peninsula outside the city she slumps
in a neon-lit pathway that Pride never treads,
empty-pocketed, rosebush-obscured and unnoticed,
her throat and pink trousers both lying in shreds.