Alex Kochkin

In From Nought Anew, Alex Kochkin gives us posthumous poems asking questions that many are afraid to ask and expressing an idealist’s dismay at the world’s destruction of ideals. But they are also in love with a world the poet was about to leave. Alex Kochkin was a philosopher who loved to tango. Elizabeth Macheret has noted that “Alex’s poems are not just a formal recording of his personal reality or of the dichotomy between the ‘actual’ world and an ideal world of elemental forces. It was a genuine and perpetual, ethical and metaphysical problem that preoccupied him, as it has every true poet: What is the world, and what rules it – a divine order or blind chaos, Day or Night, sun or ocean’s depths, faith or doubt?” And this from Elena Cherniavska: “What strikes me [in Alex Kochkin’s poetry] is its natural simplicity and an overarching effort of analyzing the world and putting it back together, as an edifice which makes sense.” Alex’s good friend Marco Gibson-Cardinali writes as follows about Alex: “He had a mind that let in and engaged with all ideas in a way that was carefully reflective and analytical, and yet wholly free of judgment. His spirit was gentle, yet alive always with curiosity, wonder, humor, pleasure, and appreciation. At times this would spill out of him in displays of unrestrained and infectious excitement and enthusiasm.
  Front cover: Thomas Hart Benton, “Jessie and Jake,” 1942 (lithograph),
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum.
His heart was pure and exposed, which seemed to make him experience deeply and immediately both the greatness and the weight of the world. He was kind in a way that could be felt in his presence, with a peace and ease that he shared with those around him, and a loyal and palpable care for others. He listened deeply when anyone spoke, genuinely listening to what they had to say, and recognizing the validity and importance of their words. He found profound meaning in the ordinary and mundane, and at the same time would embrace complex concepts with delightful simplicity. He was earnest and humble, sincere and unassuming, and lived with goodness, integrity, and virtue.” Alex Kochkin died on May 10, 2013.

Alex Kochkin was born in Kiev, Ukraine, on March 12, 1985. In1990 he emigrated to the United States with his parents, who settled in West Hartford, CT. Alex attended the Hebrew Academy of Greater Hartford; then following a move to Avon, Connecticut, he was enrolled in the Avon Pine Grove Elementary School. In 2003 he graduated from Avon High School and that fall matriculated at Hofstra University, where he was a pre-med student majoring in Philosophy. Graduating from Hofstra in 2007, the next year he began working toward a Ph.D. in Philosophy at the State University of New York in Albany. Alex Kochkin died on May 10, 2013. He had a joyful spirit.

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ISBN 978-1-936482-69-6

Copyright © 2014 by Anna Kochkin

6" x 9" paperback, 76 pages


copyright © 2014 by Anna Kochkin


A Metaphysics

For Dr. Howell

Inscribed by the inscribing machine,
nothing is like anything, nominalism,
what an abstract fact.

Everything is one thing and
nothing is like anything else,
the profound absurdities made manifest.

They are exposed to me
in the early hours of dawn
when my mind is trying to rest.

As that early light comes in,
sky seen through slanted blinds,
lightening, mind resting, birds screaming.

“Nothing else is like this,
no life is more real
than the one you’re living.”



I have been explaining to my sister
that there are no closed loops, no isolated systems,
in nature everything is open, a part of something else, I
have been explaining to her, and she may be understanding
some of my explaining, but I can’t help thinking that
she’s living in a different country, she’s no longer speaking
to my mother, she takes care of stray dogs and cats,
she teaches English as a second language now
to Ukranian school children and young professionals,
and I’m a graduate student living a different life
in a different place, and my parents are in different places
from either of us, and all of us are constantly growing apart
toward different suns, orbiting in different worlds,
and I am standing at the window watching autumn’s annunciation,
seeing the October snow dusting around the house
blowing dry leaves together to disperse again, billowing,
explaining to my sister that everything is one closed loop,
one single isolated system, nomadic monad, and I feel
that my heart is breaking as life falls to pieces.

Whiskey Ire

Yelling out the window
at the neighbors, passerby, mailman woman,
screaming his head off in his nightshirt
in daylight, late morning, sun shining,
empty colorless blue sky, cloudless,
midsummer heatwave, New England humidity,
sweating insomniac, drunken, raving,
I can’t sleep, this heat is too much,
this earth is too heavy with oppression,
I can’t take it, I hate everything,
you hear me lady, you hear me,
you see me, it’s all too much, look,
the sky, look, empty blank nothingness,
looping within dark space, mute, impervious,
and here this heat, you hear, this heat,
I’m sweating to death in my furnace-coffin apartment,
I haven’t slept in days, I’m dying, I’m dying,
he starts shaking helplessly, sweatdrenched,
he starts vomiting right out the window,
right onto the sidewalk, right onto the sidewalk,
he’ll never remember any of it,
right onto the sidewalk.


Where did my father go?
He saw his empire fall, his house collapse,
his family get smitten.
He felt his teeth gnash, his tongue bleed,
his eyes roll. He felt lightning strike
repeatedly at his cerebral cortex,
and penetrate down into his pineal gland—
right inside, right in there!
He saw spies and devils everywhere.
He shuffled and stuttered alone in the basement,
he mumbled lost secrets alone to himself,
he entangled himself in his own limbs,
he grew paralyzed in a web of whispers and muffled laughter.

Oh, where did my father go? Where?
Where did he disappear to now?
“You know, he’s always running somewhere,
always in a hurry, always has somewhere to be
and something to say. Don’t worry,
he’ll be home soon.” Soon, soon he will.
Soon he will be home, and dead, and lost.
And soon we will all be dead and lost to each other.
Soon I will find my way to my father’s house.
I will board up the windows and rant in the dark,
I will descend into the wilderness after him.
I will seek out his muffled voice and follow his guidance.
He will know his way around.


move on, move over, turn over, see again,
see sun rise, see things illuminated, God’s grace
in all observed facts, mute and indifferent,

things moving around, going around, coming around,
the great centerless circle, expanding still, still extending
its great reach, great influence, asserting its enclosure,

one great loop, lasso, noose, holding us all,
binding everything together, grinning in the background,
exerting its will, doing its duty, holding its own

Lazarus Lives

Road up, road down,
it’s all the same.
Sea in, sea out,
it goes around and around.

My mother and I
are driving to the ocean
together, to rest, to relax,
to take in the sun.

Road up, road down,
it’s all the same.
Sea in, sea out,
it goes around and around.

We lie on the beach,
we swim in the ocean,
my feet dig into the sand,
I hear crickets and waves.

Road up, road down,
it’s all the same.
Sea in, sea out,
it goes around and around.

I feel reborn
us driving back,
later to be sick
fevered with sunburn.

Road up, road down,
it’s all the same.
Sea in, sea out,
it goes around and around.


Be at ease with the world
go with ease on the earth
go forth with good cheer
giving the best you got
laughing at the jokes you’re told
drinking beer in the summer sun
always looking a little bit distant
the old horizons broadening to new
with day settling down into stars circling
on the lawn by the fire friends gathered
exchanging stories with smoke on their lips
collection of matter and light in darkling dusk
smiling and laughing and digging toes into dirt
sending sound out into interstellar space
rising to whistling whisper to dissolve
men and women getting blown by a cold wind.

Again and Again

Going through God’s grandeur
seeing everything’s single system
stars above the soul within
everything that we’ve been taught
going on as it has been as we’ve been
taught to expect it to be all in all—
try to remember that this never happened
before like this nothing is like anything
every moment is idiosyncratic
its own and unlike any other—
November leaves swirling on a dusky road
beneath a gently winking baby moon—
have you ever seen these things before
ask yourself and in answer forget
all you’ve been taught and all you’ve thought
and see the scenes as they pass by
recognizing them for the first time anew—
just look at things as they occur directly
like never before and never again.

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