Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry


Sergei Sokolovskiy


Translated by Matvei Yankelevich

Moscow Diagnostic Theater

 	The cruel towns of my happy childhood, Belfast and Beirut, which continued the Russian 
Silver Age, where many also began with the same letter. Belfast and Beirut are more dear to me 
than Blok and Baltrushaytis. Only for Bely will I make an exception; only he was able to do 
something to the head of a teenager such that chains of political murders in the capacity of 
the natural, organic framing of one's future life were no longer appealing.
	 The 1993 White House* transformed the city of my birth into something of a Balfast or 
Beirut, though only for a short time. On October 4th I was smoking some skunk weed on the roof 
of one of the Stalin skyscrapers right across from the former Council for Mutual Economic 
Assistance building and I knew that my childhood dreams had come true.
	 And that's when I got the idea of this theater, in which the audience's reactions to the 
actors' performance permits us to make a concluding diagnosis regarding the viewer. 

* The Russian White House was the home of the Russian Parliament (Duma), besieged in October of 1993 by the Russian army in support of President Boris Yeltsin who had dissolved the political body. Tanks fired on the upper floors of the building before it was stormed by Russian armed forces. It currently houses the Russian Government.

Stooging on a Phantom

 	The previous story could be deemed a pessimistic review of Debord's book. Not the 
Debord who hadn't successfully coped with all his tasks in all their diversity. But a dancing 
Debord, a Debord of shadows. A commander of unions and overlord of interjections. Who had 
hammered in the image of a spectacle that destroys the body of its narrator. A Debord torn to all 
sort of who knows what.
	I am not now equipped to discuss the pros and cons of these shadows. A hybrid of a 
kamikaze and a boomerang-a plain military pilot. He built, as they say, a nest in the branches. 
In their irreproachable interweaving - shadows, branches, inflorescence. At that very moment 
when the obituary attains the sense and meaning of an obituary.
	The only copy of "Society of the Spectacle" of which it would be worth speaking here 
was sent to the cossack village of Sinegorsk in the Krasnodar region.  


     "It's a lie!" we answered in unison, without arranging it. 	
     "It's no secret that the image of an island counts among those I most despise. It seems to 
me that this image has accumulated exactly as much filth and falsity as is needed to form an 
island, blast it! What could be more natural than when, from all the trash (spiritual, cultural, and
biological) poured in a heap, suddenly, as if by the wave of a conductor's wand, an isle appears? 
Here we cannot help but associate-by rhyme-our hot uninhabited isle with the awl, a sharp 
implement, and through it all sharp-tongued witticisms and pointed puns, the tools of rhetoric, 
even the sharp heat of island spices, and as a result we are lead to all the potential harm caused 
by the isle-awl: it all goes to the same place, into one heap, one atoll. The pun, as you can see,
 nauseates: I will be sick with all these endless islands, all seclusion, solitude and cosmic
 loneliness, I'll vomit them into the auditorium, were there an auditorium before me, or wherever,
if it so happens by some inexplicable reason that the auditorium is absent. The inexplicable
reason, by the way, can only be the following: that the auditorium is also an island, a diminutive
isle of peace and calm in the stormy sea of modernity. And it's not possible that I would be sick
into the very thing thing that makes me sick, isn't that true? I'm asking you: is it true?
			 	Once more we replied: "It's a lie!"   

I Want to Be Your Dog

   That old Iggy Pop song, later changed around by the "Sexual Pistols," always reminds me
of the only time in my life that I actually wanted to be your dog.
   It was almost evening. We walked into an entryway and I understood that a need which
claims total possession of a person can only be satisfied in a situation of just as total submission. 
Prud'hon's tired sentiment-"Property is theft"-didn't exactly bring me salvation at that
moment, but it did put everything back in its place.
    Now, I consider it as a manifestation of religious feeling.  

Exdependence Day

 	The mother of a future MD was making coffee, still waking up.
	Early morning. Something happened to all the words, absolutely all of them. It's not that 
they stopped meaning, rather they stopped meaning that which they should. The mother of a 
future MD was making coffee, still waking up.
	Another morning, another day-one of those June days of 1989 when many Chinese 
perished on Tienamen Square in the name of freedom. Those days, the mother of a future MD 
was to herself transparent and completely unknowable to those around her.
	She loved Chinese poetry, far-eastern culture-at that time such a predilection was not in 
general use. Her son's friend, who would later attempt to tailor his life according to progressive
sixties prescriptions, would often recall one Chinese poem that she had asked him to learn by 
  	The poem, actually, didn't help: Having broken with radical revolutionary politics in 
favor of light Tarantino-esque criminal activity, and having had acute coronary inadequacy 
bestowed on him as the cause of death, her son's friend outlived "Daddy Dan" but only by two or 
three hours.
	She was pleased that her son had become a doctor.
	The electric coffee grinder had once broken down, and she had to buy another. In June of 
1989 the new coffee grinder was already four years old. And a few months, which caused a 
smile: four years and a few months.