Boris Zverev. Translated by Anton Yakovlev

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Boris Zverev. Translated by Anton Yakovlev

I’m Almost Okay (Ukraine)

Don’t worry, I’m almost okay.

They’re shooting but still far off.

Don’t see it as weakness. It’s hard

Taking care of the kids alone.

I look out the window—it’s dark,

Except for the glow of blasts,

As though I’m in a film

About the madness of war.

So every night I cry, and I sing.

It’s well past two in the morning.

You may be fighting right now,

I must wait for you out loud.

And it’s best not to look at the clock,

Now that it’s almost three,

So I’m not sucker-punched

By the ticker of news.

Now explosions are getting close,

The trouble is aimed at us.

Save us, repel the strike,

Don’t let us die in this hell.

I’ll go hug the kids while they sleep,

Touch their cheeks with my lips.

Not sure why I’m doing this.

Really, I’m not afraid!

Especially not when I think of you.

I think of you night and day.

I hope my incantations

Become a warship for you.

All right, seems it’s quiet again.

Don’t forget, crying’s not our style.

I’m strong. I’m strong like our country.

Don’t worry, I’m almost okay.
March 3, 2022
I Look at the News of Horror
I look at the news of horror.

I ask: “How are you holding up?”

“Like every normal person,

I lose my mind every day.”

The answer is clear and honest,

It’s the only one there can be.

You cannot close your eyes

On carnage and atrocity.

And sanity simply goes

And short-circuits your brain

When you’re seeing and hearing

The wax of the world melt down.

And all you can do, with no fuss,

Since the plague hasn’t taken you yet,

Is, like every normal person,

Lose your mind every day.
March 14, 2022

Shooting is Simpler
Shooting is simpler than cooking borscht:

Just pull the safety, the trigger.

Military might is a terrible thing,

It blows out the last plug in the brain.

Cooking borscht is creative,

While shooting is easy—just do it.

Pulling the trigger, the safety,

You won’t create, only ruin.

And no one will cook borscht for you

As you pull the safety, the trigger,

And the world falls apart, collapsing

Into fiery shades of red.

But it’s not the same color as beets.

Pulling the trigger, the safety,

You won’t get to a heavenly picnic,

Just the regular furnace of hell.

And if at the entrance, grinding the doors,

They ask you: “Last name, first name?”

Shout, at least, that you wanted borscht,

And lie that you had bad aim.
March 28, 2022

About the Author:

photo Zverev
Boris Zverev
Boston, USA

Boris Zverev was born and grew up in Moscow. He has lived in the United States since 1993. He lives in Boston and works as an economist. He has published two collections of poetry, and his poems have appeared in several journals.

About the Translator:

photo Yakovlev
Anton Yakovlev
Lyndhurst, NJ

Born in Moscow, Anton Yakovlev has lived in the United States since 1996, is a graduate of Harvard University and a former education director at Bowery Poetry Club. He is the author of four English-language poetry chapbooks. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Hopkins Review, Poetry Daily, and elsewhere. The Last Poet of the Village, Anton’s book of translations of poetry by Sergei Yesenin, was published by Sensitive Skin Books in 2019.

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Poetry Reading in Honor of Brodsky’s 81st Birthday
Length: 1:35:40