Amit Majmudar
The Seven Deaths and Seven Resurrections of
  Grigori Rasputin

Cinnamon cyanide crumbcake stuck
to the roof of his country guffaw.
He stuffed in muffins, too; the poppyseeds liced
his beard. The sitting room smelt of a serf orgy,
babushka-funk and ox dung on the chintz.
Yusupov's white wine should have turned him blue,
too, yet Rasputin toasted with that runoff
Christ and Tsarina, God and Romanov,
glugging and snurfing till he felt a slap
against his back to help him swallow
what the wine had not washed down. Two bullets later,
the floor lay supine under his monk bulk,
white marble carrying him like a woman.

The noblemen who did it stepped outside
and steadied each other's hands with handshakes.
They'd stuck a knife in the sea and seen the waves
go flat. Yusupov watched his breath and rubbed
his arms. Neva wore ice a bridal white.
Inside, Rasputin waited with his coat,
agreeable as any footman. Honey
gurgled from the entry wounds. Three bumblebees
with thoraces a suspect caliber
droned and adored his hormone aureole,
confusing a drained Rasputin with the spring.

A fourth bullet blossomed him a third eye.
Head first, he penetrated the Neva's ice.

Her ice sealed over him, but he clawed through
like the stray dog trapped in a mass grave
and shook the mortality off his sodden fur
and walked on ice as Christ once walked on water
back to October 1917's
red bank

              where soulless, horn-rimmed Bolsheviks
clubbed him and chuffed him shoeless to a gulag—
idiots, handing such a man an axe.
Kalashnikovs drove flies into his beard
that caught them in its cobweb, paralyzed them,
and fed. Desperate, the Red Army buried him,
alive or dead, who knew.

                                    Rasputin rose
after the first rainfall reactivated
his body's indestructible spore,
hair thrown over his acetylene crosseyes,
more stigmata than intact skin, steelier
than Stalin. An Okhrana autopsy
report despaired of locating his soul,
which had, it seemed, an agile birdlike manner
of flustering off his skeletal boughs
and then resettling as the gunshot's echoes
wandered and got lost in the Russian winter.

The ax they planted in his skull

                                              grew leaves.

They trussed him in a uniform and rolled him
under the Panzers, hoping foreigners
might crush this Russian destiny the Russians,
by some genetic-mystic block, could not.

The tank treads gave him a flagellant glamor
diagonally across his back and buttocks.
Eikons wept milk. Declassified snapshots show
four-spiked lens flares where his eyes should have been.

They did not stop with five year plans to starve him.
Baptized in heavy water at Chernobyl,
the core reactor matching celsius
for celsius his sensual excess,

he made the fuel rods throb in time with him
like tuning forks contagiously resonant.

A lighter thrown into an oil well
readies his Gazprom pyre, pillar of flame
that stretches seventy Kremlins high.

                                                      He rides
its see-through elevator till he sees
the Black Sea to his left, Siberia right.
His arms, though dislocated, thrown out wide
shoot vast tunnels of fire east and west
dynamiting through the night sky like a railroad
through a mountain range. It's visible
from Moscow, this demonic cross Rasputin
anchors against the sky, aloft unburned
in flame though sleeved. To either side, two more
oil wells pop their dark machinery off
like scaffolding falling away from the launch
to gush twin fires, second cross and third
bearing the petty cutthroat and the thief.


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