Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry


Yuliana Novikova


Translated by Philip Nikolayev

* * *

I, who used to deny the thorns in this bed of roses,
Setting a fine example, now redefine what "morose" is,
Sitting in the street with a bloodied nose like a zombie,
Neither id nor money on me.

"Clueless Airhead," says the stamp across my forehead, 
Aptly placed there by some random angelic herald.
And how long do I have to practice silent science
Before my silence becomes eternal silence?

* * *

What's this strange route,
Where to? One last 
Time wait a bit
And all will pass.
The flowers in farewell colors
Will fade, alas.
Why would you sigh about this?
You will not pass.

* * *

I see with perfect precision
But hear as if through a dream
Sand ticking in the glass wherein
It is imprisoned.
At times it flows like water,
At other times falls with a din,
It'll knock on my door tomorrow,
But I won't let it in.
May it cover this mess,
Step on heads without grieving.
Folk, too, go to excess
Yet are forgiven, forgiving.

A Vision

A vision climbs the staircase of eyelashes
Of certain distant towns, of certain squares
Where we enter at night a night establishment
To sit alone a bit among some squares
Who care not much who serves them at the bar 
Or whether we two are strangers here or locals:
They've been here a long time, eyed such numbers
That they feel neutral, if not antisocial.
Let's sit down a bit by the transcendent 
Window and get some simple food and drink.
Behind each shutter we remark the brink
Of heaven, the abyss transparent.
What can we tell each other to save those lost 
in the dark, stuck in the night's plain air?
All is over. Goodbye. Farewell. Until our next
Reunion. Soon. We're almost there.

* * *

Another's shadow overlaps with mine,
So I no longer recognize my own.
It quickly changes, turns alienated,
Stops following me, so I feel slightly hated.
May my poor shadow be lead to its peace
By some kind unknown hand, oh pretty please.
I forgive without a shade of regret
and without a shade of regret betray it.

The houses are all wrong, the streets are wrong,
And the wrong words show on the poster.
I hear another's voice in the dark but fail to hear
My own internal voice. Absent so long,
No, it hasn't gone awol or into hiding,
But by reason of its constant protestation
It up and out and disappeared past finding,
Having thus changed its name and switched location.