Odessa, 1913

He loved repetition,
more truthfully--to repeat himself:
"If you can't figure out
what's going on around here,
here are some key adjectives
to clarify the matter.

"The first is 'so-called;'
attach it to the name
of all establishments
and official bureaus.

"The second is 'would-be;'
attach it to the name
of all incomplete endeavors.

"The third is 'wrong;'
attach it to all decisions reached
or actions undertaken."

Once, during a cardgame,
a friend asked him
if there existed any undertaking
to which one could attach
the word "right."

He shook his head
and, leading clubs, replied,
"To speak precisely, one would
have to say 'right, but too late.'"

His lead didn't play out,
but his losses were minor.

© 1996 Boris Khersonsky. All rights reserved.
Translation by Ruth Kreuzer and Dale Hobson