The Short Life of Rasumovski

early excerpts… read the entire work at Amazon for FREE (must be Amazon Prime member)

Rasumovski Recovered

I found a piece of myself, in a folder of typewritten pages, from twenty years ago, long thought lost forever. Stranger than finding a part of my dimmed past, was to see myself as a parody, acting out my virtual persona in the guise of poet, in the era when few people used computers, much less in their homes chatting with others across the nation, all too often their snoring partner oblivious to the nocturnal flirtations emanating from the glowing screen. 

Trying to avoid the obvious but ever so tempting pun about having an actual chapter of my life reappear in the form of a sheath of papers from a couple of decades past, that very image nags me unceasingly. I smile slightly, with a metallic taste of irony in my mouth and mind, as I survey the sadly thin stack that is the culmination of what I long believed to be the most artistic phase of my life, this supposedly crucial chapter that is a painfully quick read.

Leafing through the loose pages first, I confess I do not remember why I felt compelled to comment on each poem and a good half of the titles escaped my memory. But I did uncover a few gems that clung to corners of my memory, a few phrases or an idea feebly lit up somewhere in the back of my mind. I also realized that I had no idea of the proper use of “its” in my poetry, causing part of me to chuckle as I saw the editor in me rise to the surface, tempted to clean up what, to my surprise, was some rather compelling writing.

Rasumovski was my online persona. Of course, my original online name was less original than my actual name, it being my actual name without spaces, hence no privacy or opportunity to play games I would not be proud to admit playing. As America Online was generous with their username allotment, I came up with two new user names that became my regular login personalities, the other name being Scherzo. Yes, this was in the glorious early days of AOL, where a stable dial up was the worst problem most users encountered.

To say Rasumovski represented what I wished (maybe hesitated) to be would be a stretch. Yet he was ever more inclined to introduce himself and kick up a conversation. At first, he was just a clever username for navigating AOL, a way to screen out the unbearably ignorant or obtuse. It also offered the opportunity to deepen a chat with those I deemed worthy of my time, not recognizing my uncanny knack to attract and be interested in the most unsavory and dishonest characters. (Then again, as I was more than once accused of being unsavory and/or dishonest, perhaps it was a concoction of misunderstandings peppered with doses of intentional malice, such cruelty being easy enough to cultivate and fling about when wearing an online mask.) But as Rasumovski made his mark in the growing AOL community, he became more than a clever name that many imagined was a character out of a Dostoevsky novel.

For me, becoming Rasumovski was a delightful escape from my daily grind, particularly the evenings when my wife would come home, crack open another bottle of wine and highlight her day while I prepared dinner. After the meal, she would trek off to bed, drunk, and I would head to my home office where I would connect with my latest interest.

It didn’t take long for this pattern to turn boring. There are a lot of addle-headed people online, each with his or her own agenda and quirks. Ultimately, my own quirks found me in poetry rooms of all places. While an avid reader, poetry rarely drew my attention, and when it did it was for short bursts, just like I saw poetry as short bursts of writing which consequently made for fast reading. Perhaps that was the appeal of writing ad hoc poetry: easy to spit out, quite disposable, yet apparently impressive for the small coterie of fans I was beginning to form. 

I was surging creatively, and began finding inspiration in the oddest situations, moments, or realizations, reaching a stage where I was compelled to carry a notepad and pen at all times in order to capture any unexpected bursts of genius. Concurrent with my growing fascination with myself was my growing fascination with my words and how I could use them as lures. (My second ex whom I met as Rasumovski had a name for it: Word Whore.) 

I was rather proud of my accomplishments. I colored Rasumovski’s character further, assigning “Reprobate” as his occupation in my profile, while suggesting the dubious advice to “Eschew Obfuscation” in the quote field, both of which elicited expected responses and anticipated questions, as easy as setting traps for vermin, to which my most common answer was “Look it up.”

One thing this clever rascal had going for him was a knack for flinging together phrases, thoughts, and concepts, on the spot, impromptu. A poetry room, any poetry room, became one of his favored haunts, which soon became a watering hole where 95% of the visitors were regulars.

Disposable poetry, Rasumovski called it. Poetry rooms were notorious for demanding original works, often turning into shouting matches, with requests and demands cascading down a swiftly scrolling screen, where someone would dare him (oh, Rasumovski loved the dares best of all; so easy to take down: once he was called upon to compose a poem with the word “thud” in it; he wove a four or five line beauty that ended inexplicably, yet perfectly, with a thud) to spin a poem of depth, beauty, and rhythm from their whimsical suggestion. Attendees were amazed, astounded, honored to be present at the birth of another classic poem. Rasumovski considered it another night well typed.

The evening writing sessions, disposable though the writing was, inspired Rasumovski to patch together enough poems written over the previous few years to comprise two self-published poetry books, where I felt compelled to include my presence and influence, as if I could not be left out of any the expected kudos and adulation, revealing my true name as the wordsmith behind the curtain should I later be discovered as a poet of some import.

The Rasumovski Poems

So what were the poems of Rasumovski like? Below are links to selected poems of “Rasumosvki” for your perusal and (hopefully) pleasure: