Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry


Felix Chechik


Translated by Philip Nikolayev

To a Classmate

I'll make out of blotter paper
a MIG-27 fighter bomber
and land it by the blackboard
to make Natasha less bored.

While the math teacher in anger
writes her critical comment,
soar, my plane, bright white angel:
there is only the moment!

* * *

The sea extends as far as 
but not past the horizon:
no one knows what it hides
in that far-from-the-eye zone.
But why care to know when
you can instead, you know, man,
stretch out on the beach
like a jellyfish?
Watch those wild waves
bare their sharp white teeth
at the cool dark caves
and indifferent cliffs.

* * *

Seeing how there's
only loss and grief,
no walls, no roof,
only windows, doors,
to finally dare
leave in mid-show,
just up and go
puff into thin air.

The Butterfly


Whether by God's grace or
by some other,
perch for a moment, no more,
upon my shoulder,
turn into a tattoo
of vulnerable hue,
like this very life, too,
which is as brief as you.


Here - you hear, butterfly? -
is a mere butterfly,
yet the tongue stutters
and the heart flutters.
Is this a butterfly
or the shadow of one?
The scar lasts a long time
before it's gone.

* * *

I'll strain the creek with a dragnet,
bow to armillarias in a forest,
but back in the city
I vote for salami.

Pike come galore in spawning rage
and armillarias sprout apace...
Alas, someone tore out a page
at the most interesting place.

* * *

That wild-growing moss
refused, meaning no harm,
to grow on the veggie farm
because, well, it could not.

It felt as if locked up
under a blood-red sky,
trapped in melancholy
between carrot and turnip.

Good grief, what have you done,
oh worthless botanist! 
Far from aspen and pine,
it'll perish like the Titanic! 

The dog bites its fleas
and softly whimpers at you.
Wild-growing moss completes
the Moscow suburb dacha.