Official paper, official jowls, unswallowable smells
Of vomit, vodka, cells, bowels,
And all these red-tape tapeworms gorging on reports.

Choir, stars, your highest, your holiest silences . . .
But first, sign here on the dotted line
That they may grant you permission to shine.

— Osip Mandelstam
(October 1930)

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