Anna Halberstadt. From the Vilnius Diary
Anna Halberstadt. From the Vilnius Diary
Fragment of a painting by Samuel Bak, who, as a child, survived the Holocaust in Lithuania.
Anna Halberstadt. From the Vilnius Diary

God, Gotteniu,

I had never been taught the formal language of prayers

I can only talk to you in the voice

of a scared rabbit hiding in the bush

with his stupid little tail sticking out

I can talk to you in the voice of mama raccoon

carrying her striped offspring one by one

by the skin of their necks

away from the two screaming women

who had discovered her nest

in their country house shed.

I can pray to you like a drying out tree

stretching naked branches at night

into the tangerine sky

like the tide lapping against the side

of the wooden pier

in the moonlit sea.

In the yellowed photo ten Jewish women


clutching each other in anguish|

standing with their backs to the pit

ready to be shot

photographed by some unknown executioner

in Ponary

where were you then, God,

you bastard?

I wish I believed that people are good at heart

like the fifteen-year-old Anne Frank.

I am a little Soviet pioneer in a red tie

saluting you.

I do believe, though,

In the synergy of a beehive

complex harmony of behaviors of ants in an anthill

the divine architecture of beaver dams

before a mad hunter shoots the female

and the male begins madly swimming in circles

mourning his mate in the bloody pond.

About the Author:

Anna Halberstadt
Anna Halberstadt
New York, USA

Anna Halberstadt is a poet and a translator from Russian, Lithuanian and English, who grew up in Lithuania and was trained as a psychologist at Moscow University and in the U.S. Her poetry in English was widely published in English-language journals, and Russian, in Arion, Interpoezia, Children of Ra and many others. Her poetry was translated into Lithuanian, Ukrainian, and Tamil. She published four collections of poetry in English, and Transit and Gloomy Sun (in Russian).

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on telegram
Share on email
Anna Halberstadt
by Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry

Four teenagers grow inseparable in the last days of the Soviet Union—but not all of them will live to see the new world arrive in this powerful debut novel, loosely based on Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.


by Mark Budman

Every character in these twenty-two interlinked stories is an immigrant from a place real or imaginary. (Magic realism/immigrant fiction.)

by Victor Enyutin

A book of poems in Russian by Victor Enyutin (San Francisco, 1983). Victor  Enyutin is a Russian writer, poet, and sociologist who emigrated to the US from the Soviet Union in 1975.

by Anna Krushelnitskaya

This collection of personal essays by a bi-national Russian/U.S. author offers glimpses into many things Soviet and post-Soviet: the sacred, the profane, the mundane, the little-discussed and the often-overlooked. What was a Soviet school dance like? Did communists go to church? Did communists listen to Donna Summer? If you want to find out, read on!

by Anna Krushelnitskaya

“Cold War Casual” is a collection of transcribed oral testimony and interviews translated from Russian into English and from English into Russian that delve into the effect of the events and the government propaganda of the Cold War era on regular citizens of countries on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

by Nina Kossman

A collection of poems in Russian. Published by Khudozhestvennaya literatura. Moscow, 1990.

Three Questions. A Documentary by Vita Shtivelman
Play Video
Poetry Reading in Honor of Brodsky’s 81st Birthday
Length: 1:35:40