Five Poems by Aleksandr Kabanov


Lights are pouring the electric oil down,
something in the rain flamed and burned out,
lots of branches on the trees (why do trees need many limbs?)
And the catkin on the alder look exactly like a shrimp.Aleksandr Kabanov
This looks like a mourning ribbon or is it a road bend,
This is me in love with you as I kill the president.

Translated from the Russian by Olga Shvarova


[That silken bowstring In tatters of blue]

That silken bowstring In tatters of blue,
silence of humus and scree –
all that one day will be written by you
has been invented by me.

Wordy obsessions and shudders of phrase
drenched me like rain from above:
with all that ultimately you will praise
I’ve fallen well out of love.

Translated from the Russian by Philip Nikolaev


[Rain poems are made from water]

Rain poems are made from water:
Drops of vowels and consonants,
That are content that my labours
Are not in vain.

Meanwhile the stresses expect
And demand the sound of tin,
Meanwhile the inspiration is burnt
And moulded from meat and wool,
Take off, burrow deep, drift
And listen to the guttural river
Reciting a poem about you but
Out of love for a completely different person.

Translated from the Russian by Olga Shvarova 


Escape to Bruges 

I shall propose a high price – to eliminate the non-being,
and I shall wear iron clutches to climb to your sky,
a star will sway with hangover, around it there will be an empty punishment cell:
we will run away for a date in Bruges – the city of killers and swans.

strangers are not caught on their words there, like a trout is on the nutmeg,
do you remember the eyebrows of Colin Farrell – there, everyone has the same eyebrows,
and a local resident tired of old age and forever retired –
cleans a muffler and looks into the optical sight before napping:

here are the canals in stone stables – they chew oily film,
here professional killers do not work – they just live,
here an anonymous shooter from Chita cries over a voodoo doll,
pity that swans are shitting everywhere, from the excess of their beauty,

here – neon light lessens, we look alike for a couple of minutes:
they say that love – slays, I recently checked this, they do not lie,
and when we return from Bruges, forever, into the Dnieper flatsedge,
I shall buy you a dress and slacks, and you will wear the dress and the slacks.

Translated from the Russian by Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya


[He came first wearing a t-shirt inscribed “Je sues Christ”]

He came first wearing a t-shirt inscribed “Je suis Christ”,
a long-haired hippy, but in this Coming he was beardless,
and on his neck, flowering like a December rose, a hickey;
he’d developed problems with human relations, and nature.
He transformed the gold fish and black bread into wine,
and then changed this young wine into moonshine:
just so, a sickly infant who is not long for this world
smashes a piggy-bank kitty before the eyes of the crowd.
Like empty talk, the streetcar clangoring off to the depot,
sounds throw shadows – longer, colder, more amorphous,
but Pasternak has risen, despite the weak wi-fi signal,
bringing a spliff for the road, heroin and some morphine. 

Translated from the Russian by Alex Cigale

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