An Editor’s Confession: A Villanesque: Not Really

Akim Golubev

To Ilf and Petrov*, the masters of satire.


I met him years ago when he was iffy honest.

He rhymed some decent words (much rarer – bawdy ones).

He was a nice and wary fellow: he was a poet.


He often was apologetic – it was chronic –

He tried to be genteel to make up for his art.

I met him years ago when he was steady honest.


Submitting verse, he shillyshallied, enjoying solace,

and muttered something mazed about metaphors.

He was a nice and wary fellow: he was a poet.


I do repent: his path, his pure artistic vomit

had roots in my re-editorial re-runs –

I met him years ago when I was steady honest.


“My friend,” I said, “You must be sick of verse and sonnets?”

“Are you?” I said. He checked the room, said “Aye,” and froze.  

He was a nice and wary fellow: he was a poet.


“Then why do you write?” I asked. “What else should I write?” He said.

For fuck’s sake nothing! I chocked my words, returning murky glance.

I met him years ago when I was iffy honest.

He was a nice and wary fellow: he was a poet.


“You should, I think…

Or, maybe…

Like, you know that, right?

Like something jolly:

tropes, and puns, and schemes,

and new neologisms.

Try calques,



onomatopoetic words,

verbification and morphoderivation,

or simply, semaconontologyformation.”


“Like word-formation,” – my wary friend-slash-foe-to-be ardentlo-avidly engaged –

“I see. But will such art be ergo monetized?

Is there a payment?”


“Yes, there is, it will, I will. If it is good. The word-formation.”


The poet’s eyes lit up with a predatory glitter.

He jumped up from his chair and blurted out, running ‘round the room:


“A median or high formation? I will soon so myself rewordreform,

so if your formalfaced physiognomy trusts me not,

I will rewordreform you to the informal phase…”


“I call this ‘talent’. Decidedly ‘a talent’,” I said, confused by his informal ‘you’

and his new not-so-formal-as-it-used-to-be approach.


The poet acted rather fancy.

He ran, he slurred,

he almost fainted twice.

He tugged his hands

like a stringed buffoon

while overturning chairs.

“Here, listen now,” he started reading verse:


“The editor’s advice is clearly ample.

I will exceed all expectations

Here is a simple wordoxample

of crafty wordmanipulations.”


Kill me – so what if I gave him a hundred.


Taking the money, he sluggishly said:

“For the ‘nnovative four-liner

put my money in mine miner.”


I’ve got so scared of what I’ve done.


I grew expressively fatigued by his disdainful manners,

and our formerly so firm accord ungrew like… just ungrew.


“I woo-woof-want to collect my-my-my-meaw re-enterjacent payment,” he said

wearily next time I saw him.

I spread my arms.

“I have none,” I said.


“Oh, editor, don’t spread your arms, you spreaditor.

Don’t lie to me my cre-editor, or else you harm me like a pre-ditor.”


“Are you still a versifier?” I asked.


“I am,” he said.


“Thus, you are a versatile money-lacking licit tramp.”

(I tried to make a pun, which, I agree, is pretty plain.

However, I moved a heavy phrasebook folio further from his forky fingers).


“You are so witty,” he waived his hand and added dully:

“I’ll take just wifty.”


“Yes, right,” I carefully said and, hell knows why, continued,

“So you still write?”


“I do. I do, I write about cognac and cognactive experience.

I wrote about Poincaré’s conjecture. Here:


Historically a hollow square,

Formation also known as carré,

demands all combatants’ss courage.

One solder hails Poincaré:

‘Where is my carriage, my Poin-carré-age?!’


Did you enjoy the poem?” He asked.


“Ahem, I think it is a bit off topic?”


“Then things are sc-off-ing-pic. Please, pay-off topic?

I have another one about Trump,

like Trumpologic in the sense of t-t-t-t-reason?

Or better May-ish brexeting May-hem-ish season? Or…”


“I’m late for a meeting.”

mee-liberty-ting first.”

“You are bothering me.”

Both-earrings cost me-money. Pay me me-money, siredditor.

“I will call 911.”

Mine one and one. Do math, I’ll take your twenty.”

“Out, now!”

Out-onomy is mine,” he started laughing.

Out-now-bered reason, t-reason, ha-ha-hi. Put-in the pay-off for the out-now-ledge.

Ha-ha-hee-hee-shee-shee they ha-he-she!”


For next two years I didn’t hear his voice.

The rumor goes he drank, offending people.

Some even sued his ass – and all was legal.

His dearest wife had filed for divorce.

And yes, he wrote to her some formal verse.

(She left him for a fancy prosecutor)


“My wife had found a better prose-tutor

I bet, it was her own pro-see-choice.

I doubt she finds him very pro-supportive,

But she will learn her lesson’s pros and cons.”


I know for fact, the prosecutor riled.

He was, shall I concur, a bit assertive,

And had some savings both in stocks and bonds.

Thus, was the legal hearing outcome defined.


I read reports that the offended prosecutor

had added to his case a claim

that stated that the re-renowned poet

have had committed criminal offence,

maliciously abusing grammar rules.


Our last encounter was at the train station.

The weather was awfully unpleasant:

one simply felt their breath to turn to frost.

He walked, accompanied by nurses.

(One was so large, I couldn’t see her face).

His suit was ironed well, his suit-tie

was rather absent, so was his old hat.


“We go to summer-house,” he seemed uplifted.

“My dear friend, is it so?”

“Yes, indeed.”

He seemed so happy.

“He meant the nuthouse,” the smaller nurse declared.

“Not not-house, some-err-house, I said,” he said.

“Excuse us,” the bulky nurse expressed.

“No! Not the not-house, some-err-house I need!

I de-decided, I pro-protest, I’m de-pro-frosted, I decide my field!”

In single iota his straitjacket locked.

“I did invent the Saturn! Don’t you dare to spit in that Grecian sat-urn!”


I never saw him again.





* Ilf and Petrov. Ilya Ilf and Evgeny or Yevgeni Petrov were two Soviet prose authors of the 1920s and 1930s. They did much of their writing together, and are almost always referred to as "Ilf and Petrov". They were especially interested in satirical prose.

Akim (Kim) Golubev is a graduate student at CSU, Sacramento, working on his MA in English Literature and teaching First-Year Composition course. The focus of Kim’s academic study aims for the Long 18th Century, and his thesis paper topic explores a connection between humanist ideas in Alexander Pope's works and the posthuman ideological shift of the contemporary speculative fiction. Kim is a poet and an emerging writer. His favorite books are The Gadfly by Ethel Lilian Voynich and The Idiot by Feodor Dostoevsky. Kim enjoys the poetry of T.S. Eliot and prefers classic rock music. He thinks that Oleg Yankovsky, Inna Churikova, Emma Thompson, Gary Oldman, and Tim Roth are the best actors ever, and Tom Stoppard is one of the best playwrights. Being multilingual, Kim writes prose and poetry in English, French, Ukrainian, and Russian. His works, published in this journal, are dedicated to his father, Sergiy Golubev.