Tim Gritsevskiy: 30 Seconds

I first met Tim at a public reading featuring a number of local writers presenting their short stories and poems.  In the accompanying video Tim and I enjoy a cup of coffee at the Caffè Sole while talking about selected stanzas from his 30-part “segmented prose-poem.” I’ve printed only those stanzas which we discuss in the interview video.

The 30 Second Love Affairs


Our relationship was y=mx+b, where I was x and you were b.

M was the willingness to commit factor.

Spatially represented on a two dimensional graph, it stretched forever in both directions.

It was just a straight line.


The problem was that we both liked sleeping on the same side of the bed.

There were few options.

Stacked one on top and one beneath, like herring in a can.  Or maybe side by side, or chest to chest, or back to back – a sweaty stream down spinal riverbeds.

It didn’t last long.  The empty side’s indignant glare, like a stern parent, overshadowed all we tried.  There were few options, maybe 30, maybe less.


In the village, I got a room on the 30th floor, above a barber shop.

A stranger everywhere, I got an affair as a hypnotist.  It was only after I mesmerized myself with line patterns that I noticed:

People are always turning around.

I saw a woman who closed her eyes – implied rejection – so I had a good idea: feet walking without people, and people walking without feet.

Can’t sleep.


I took a book of 30 dirty cartoons off the shelf of my favorite bookstore.  Becoming aroused, I set the book back reverently with my trembling hands, hauled ass to the bathroom where I stretched out on the floor with my pants around my ankles and, skinny butt cheeks coldly sweating against the tiles, proceeded to masturbate fervently, dreaming of flat paper women with flat paper breasts and flat paper lips and flat paper legs.

For months, all I could think about was my book of 30 dirty cartoons.  They chased me – like night mares – even to my sleep.

Then I met my first girlfriend and realized what it was all about.

Words poured from my mouth and hands like a sieve.

I paused my pen.  Remembered:

the paper’s still flat.


I sat naked by the phone, hoping for your call. You didn’t call.

I stood naked by the door, waiting for your knock. You didn’t knock.

I walked naked in the street, looking for your voice. You didn’t speak.

I came naked to your house, searching for your face. You called the cops.


He had a big head and a small computer.  His thumbs were grotesque, bulging with muscle and adept at finding the tiniest of buttons.

Of her, the ears are worth mentioning.  Delicate and gracious, they were made of a fibrous tissue, with tiny cilia that constantly caressed the small white speakers placed within.

Together, they were unstoppable.  When they held hands, nature receded away from them, like a hairline.


She complained because he compulsively read David Copperfield in the bathroom.  She said, pitching her voice to carry through the locked door, “you don’t have the maturity level necessary to carry on this relationship.”

He got out of the tub, yanked open the door and, throwing the Dickens to the tiles, ran naked laps around her, waving streamers and confetti.  She tackled him to the floor and sat on his chest, pinning the flailing arms with her knees.

The poor Dickens classic sighed from the cool moist floor, thinking Great!  Just when I had finally made a friend! and began reading itself to itself for the 30th time, quietly, so as not to disturb anyone.

In the next post Tim talks more about himself as writer, “open mic” performer, MFA student, and teacher of creative writing.

Explore posts in the same categories: Writers

5 Comments on “Tim Gritsevskiy: 30 Seconds”

  1. Just want to say that I really like this poem and how it moves in and out of voice and rhythm and line construction but the end loses it. It’s hard to end a poem. I know that. I have trouble with it. The ear description is so great but then the piece gets weighted down by a heavy narrative voice at the end. But so much of the piece is beautifully done, so don’t take the criticism too hard. There are some other moments that could be deleted or tightened, but so much of it is very good. Mostly, I just want to say that the ending detracts from the beautiful construction of the previous lines/segments.

  2. john doyle Says:

    Sorry, Kim and Tim, but I should have clarified: these are only certain selected stanzas from a longer poem. Five more follow the one about the Dickens. I’ve now added clarification on the post itself. I sacrificed continuity for brevity, which is probably a mistake — like excerpting greatest hits from a symphony or something.

  3. Tim G. Says:

    Just wanted to say that the criticism is a valid one and I appreciate it. Some of the pieces — the Dickens one included — are of a heavier, more narrative nature. And I’m not above saying that certainly, that can become clunky at times. It seems to me that the poem does gain narrative girth towards the end (that’s not entirely unintentional) and try as I might and do, I can’t make the end as airy and dreamlike as the pieces at the front. Again, just wanted to say that I really appreciated your comment, Kim, both the positive side and the negative.

  4. Well, I know that I tend to write myself into “overweight endings” and frequently when revisiting my work I end up lopping off the last third! But now I see that John had only excerpted the piece. I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with as a writer is that at the end of the day at least two thirds of what we write ends up in the trash can to make the work good. Not saying you should put your work in the trash can! Just that I have to recognize that in myself.

    Thanks for not understanding that I wasn’t being one of those “let’s sit on my high horse and critique everyone’s work” people. I was actually speaking from the point of practice and what I’ve learned to critique in my own work. You’re very talented and inspiring. :-)

  5. Ellen Orleans Says:

    I was glad to have Tim read at the Yellow Pine Reading Series’ “Take Two” night. I first heard him read at CU, as part of a reading series organized by poet and professor Elizabeth Robinson. This was Tim’s second time reading at Yellow Pine. I like Tim’s boldness and the “in-the-moment” quality of his work.

    Five more poets– Dana Elkun, Jeffrey Robinson, Erin Christiansen, Mark Jansen, and Susan Tepper, will be reading at Yellow Pine next Wednesday night (3/4) beginning 7:30. We’re at 1650 Zamia, two blocks north of Yarmouth. Drop by.

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