after Osip Mandelstam
In Red Square, giant plasma screens loom blank
and wall-eyed, there’s no news today. The Kremlin
thug needs time to think. He never counts his
losses, pays no heed to them. His mongoloid eyes
turn unperturbedly to the southwest. Any day now,
he plans to perform the prisyadka on the streets of Kiev.
Under the black belt moon, he cocks one leg,
a kick to the solar plexus, to the groin, to the temple.
Pectorals flex, Abs ripple. His favourite cocktail,
Polonium-210, he serves up to those who dare oppose.
His expression resembles that of a firing squad,
this former KGB analyst calculates the odds quiet
as frost at midnight, his every move accounted for:
pieces of tibia, femur, cranium, each precious object
finds a place on his chessboard. Any day now,
he plans to perform the prisyadka on the streets of Kyiv.
* * *
По мотивам Осипа Мандельштама
Бельма плазмы на стенах сегодня пусты,
нынче нет новостей с Красной площади. Кремль
думать будет. Бандит не считает потерь,
их не видит в упор. Чуть пришибленный взгляд
безмятежно бросает к зюйд-весту. Вот-вот —
и вприсядку пойдет по Крещатику он.
На луне — черный пояс; он ногу задрал —
кому в пах, кому в лоб, а кому и подвздох.
Мышцы гибки, пресс в кубиках. Лучший коктейль
из полония — тем, кто сверх меры свистит.
Смотрит, как на расстреле и с тем же лицом,
в КГБ научили просчитывать риск —
ум как инеем в полночь подернут. Любой
хрящ, сустав или череп сгодится на ход,
на доске свое место найдет. И вот-вот
он Андреевским спуском вприсядку пойдет.
Video of Max Nemtsov reading his translation:
Stephen Oliver is an Australasian poet and voice artist who has also worked as a newsreader, a journalist, and a copy and feature writer. He has published more than 20 volumes of poetry, and his writing has appeared in a range of international journals and anthologies.
Max Nemtsov is a literary translator and editor.
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.
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!
“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.
Julia Wiener was born in the USSR a few years before the Second World War; her youth was spent during the “Thaw” period, and her maturity coincided with the years of “Soviet stagnation”, which, in her case, ended with her emigration to Israel in the early 1970s. Her wartime childhood, her Komsomol-student youth, her subsequent disillusionment, her meetings with well-known writers (Andrei Platonov, Victor Nekrasov, etc.) are described in a humorous style and colorful detail. Julia brings to life colorful characters – from her Moscow communal apartment neighbors to a hippie London lord, or an Arab family, headed by a devotee of classical Russian literature. No less diverse are the landscapes against which the events unfold: the steppes of Kazakhstan, the Garden of Gethsemane, New York, Amsterdam, London.
Julia Wiener’s novels focus on those moments when illusory human existence collapses in the face of true life, be it spiritual purity, love, old age, or death.