Poems and Texts

Two Poems by Eugene Ostashevsky

A certain Pirate had Concern for his Health and so he emigrated to Germany. It was there he learned the best Technique of effective Handwashing. Germans wash their Hands in the following Manner, which is the best. First they take one Hand, which can be the left or the right. (Here the Handler performs a Discriminationsavoidingseffort.) Then they take another Hand. Then using the second Hand they wash the first Hand. And only then do they use the first Hand to wash the second Hand. It is never the other Way around. That’s the Technique. That’s how they do it in Germany. As the Result of this Technique there are very few Germs left in Germany.
The parrot of Henry VIII fell out of the palace window and into the Thames. He did not know how to swim. He took to splashing about and shouting, “A boat! A boat, for xii. pounds!” A boatman, who was boating, said, “Here’s a bird with a golden throat, I like the singing of her.” For the parrot, being an Oriental, had a circulet of ruby color about the throat. Then the boatman said, “Where’s my xii. pounds?” But the parrot said, “The king will hand it you.” The boatman entered the palace. The king was enjoying a guinea fowl, and in heavy remembraunce of all these things his second wife used to do with her mouth. The boatman said, “Behold your bird for xii. pounds!” The king turned to the parrot and said, “What says you?” The parrot said, “Less is more?” The king ordered the boatman truncated by xii. pounds, for he was more king than kind.
Photo: Natacha Nisic

Eugene Ostashevsky

Eugene Ostashevsky is a poet and translator. This reading celebrates the release of The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi, his novel in poems about communication challenges affecting pirate-parrot relationships, from NYRB Poets. He is also the author of The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza, published by UDP. Born in Russia, brought up in the US, and currently residing in Berlin while working in Paris, he writes about how languages do not match each other or themselves. He often puns.

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