[dulce et decorum]

Transitions №7

Author: Gennady Kanevsky

Translated by Richard Coombes

the ‘information’ window.
— excuse me,
is it possible
to work
grow vegetables
make discoveries
perform music
write poetry
pray, in the final analysis?
all for the motherland I mean.
— answer:
no, for the motherland
you can do
only two things:
and die.
here’s a form.
that will be
eight hundred

interested? join me. we’ll go for a wander
along the uneven side, over yonder.
there all the houses and gaps are unpaired,
dreams have no colour, towns no boulevard,
and the cracks in the plaster on every wall
serve as a book of no changes at all.

on the wall above them i’ll write in my hand:
‘we are passing our days in an odd-numbered land.
three is our homeland, seven our glory,
five — left, eleven — right, and such is our story
that say «six» in public and you, poor wretch,
could wind up inside for a fifteen year stretch.’

and so pass the uneven days, one by one.
did it get dark early? are we here on our own?
how are you? missing the artillery choir?
you haven’t forgotten? today’s incoming fire.
when the iron crows are coming to call
the even sides are most deadly of all.

this wind
circles on the spot
yard dog of the ruins
dervish of the outskirts

this sound
is becoming
but even this
they say
you get used to

or that world
at full tilt
coming nearer
to the point on the map
where you are

this darkness
it crawls
across the same map
like a plastun

this metaphor
can do nothing
but it’s trying to sing
it’s trying to cry

this land
lies by the roadside
already dead
but still smiling

open a window

the city
is making out
that it’s moscow

the sun
is making out
that it’s shining

the buildings
that they’re still there

that it’s still moving

are making out
that nothing
is happening