Transitions №7

Author: Vlad Pryakhin

Translated by Aaron Straaten and author



today I thought about
what would Frank O’Hara think
if he lived here

where you can’t love who you want to love
and what you want to love

where you can’t dress as you want
and live as you want

one day he said all this
to the poets Voznesensky and Yevtushenko

but he was speaking from across the ocean

I wonder
what he would have said
if he was here

what would he think
about all these people
about their words
about their thoughts

today I thought about this
and also about
that to think is still possible

but it won’t last long,
and it’s not forever too



I wish it hadn’t happened

I’m still going through the consequences
of what I saw

the flash…

I would call it a flash of horror,
it is both inside and outside,
outside and inside me

since childhood, I have been taught  
what to do,
if this happens:
«flash on the right!»
«flash on the left!» …
to fall quickly, with my feet in the direction of the flash,
face into the ground,
cover the back of my head with my palms…

of course I know it,
but this happened
and I can’t believe my eyes,
I think it’s a dream

I close my eyes
and open them again
I close and open them again in the hope
that all this is just a vision

but the flash goes on and on
and on and on and on
here, it finally stops,
turns into a crimson swirling ball…

I think
I probably went blind…
but no, nothing like that happened

I open my eyes and see the burnt ones:
some of the burnt ones are trying to collect their ashes —
some in an urn,
some in a breakfast bag,
some in a plastic bucket,
and someone is trying to smear their ashes on a canvas
or a sheet of paper
creating an image or text

but most of them
still go on about their business  
crumbling out at the move  
stepping over piles of ash
consisting of themselves
scattering in the wind like smoke

the whole earth is covered with ashes
but now it has risen
waves of convulsions pass through it,
the earth moves everywhere and shakes off the ashes
into the nearest lakes, rivers and streams,
and giant juicy sprouts of a new inhuman
rise from its black body

they are the scariest of all



and so
they gathered the uneducated,
to tell them tall tales…

and so
they forbade the smart ones to come back here

and so
they cut off the young ones from themselves

and so
they tied up the remaining ones
with a bloody bond:
they gave everyone a stone
and said: throw it

and they dressed in clothes,
made from a map of the world,
to reshape the world in their own way

but time resisted,
and the map rotted on their bodies      



this is the Styx in the middle current:
on the right and left along the shores
the land of the inanimate,
but look into the blackness between the ice floes from the bridge:
have you seen even greater death?

the trees of fear grow from here,
horror sinks its roots into the holes in the ice

so many years the dead dream
of going from the first death
to the big death,
and now they can

that’s what you’re for, Styx:
to denote silence, dumbness
of impenetrable blackness,
this is movement,
intention to plunge into it —
people, who live in the living world,
they will never understand that

it’s not easy to scare a dead man,
but this river manages

our time is bleeding,
the channel’s banks bleeding

the wind came rushing from nowhere,
waves of fog or shadows of dead builders
are coming from the northwest,
creeping over the plain
over white ice
and black water

the surface of the abyss is in the glass,
you’ll never know everything,
what do the silver ripples hide underneath



a winding path runs
between the pillars of bans
and between the walls of bans

where I go around
where I retreat
where I touch with my shoulder only

at the end of the maze there is a cliff
and the other shore beyond it

need to take a running jump
and maybe you’ll be lucky
to catch on the rock on the other side

during the flight,
you will learn again
fear and horror,
hope, loss and pain



everything changes
that surrounds me

everything that surrounds me
changes me

is growing around
entropy is growing
like a forest

everything disappears
that I fought
for without expecting victories

to be an adult in space
is to have one hundredth
of the age of an average star

Oh, my wound,
my childhood wound,
I return
your blood to you



where you lived before  
now my Loss lives

now the Loss is sleeping on your couch
breathing your breath

now the Loss reminds me
that it would be necessary to fix the water valve

still I  dragged it to the trash cans  
your dilapidated couch,
threw away the old mattress

in the morning, the Loss speaks in your voice:
«cook me soup
I want soup
and chicken breast
is hard for me to chew»

of course, I will cook

my Loss will be eating
your soup with your spoon



«is my time over?» —
I asked my clocks, 
when all of them suddenly stopped

«times are ended» —
they answered —
«but your time is not ended yet,
change batteries,
you still have a little time left»



this is what the «Projective Verse» looks like in translation:

here is a crucian carp pulled out of the water
and thrown into the grass

initially, it was a beautiful fish

squirming, it slowly dies
in an alien habitat

its red fins are beautiful
its impressive crest
and its exciting tail…

by tomorrow morning
its scales will fade
in another day
it will start to emit a smell

bacteria and worms of the air world
will eat it from the inside

that’s our habitat’s mockery
over child of another one



“send your poems to the contest
in correct Russian
only in correct Russian…”

do you have such poems?

“correct Russian” will make you think “correctly”
the way they need
because they came up with the «correct rules»

however, soon it will become useless

a chip with the right thoughts will be sewn into your  brain

and it’s better for you now
to look for a hacker
who can flash it



time is dragging in
what shouldn’t be here

numbers are perplexed  
screens are dimming

the watches of the thirties
made at the end of the 19th century
were driven by springs

batteries do not accept secondary use
attempts to repeat times
are doomed to failure

but so many will not live



so, weigh
your justified and unfounded fear
your complaints about insomnia
the recurring horror of waking up
when you realize that the horror continues
your complaints that everything has passed
your unstable expectations
that it will all end
which you do not believe yourself

and then weigh
their calm unhurried ascent to the bonfire
their confidence not only in salvation
but also the fact that suffering accelerates its arrival
is their willingness to always respond with all this
to the words and actions of those
who come at midnight or early, in the morning
at dusk or in the light of day
their humility, unlike your submission
for their clothes burn those who humbled them

so, weigh
and after that look at the ground
still heavy after the rain



— I don’t need
anything except your fear
except your fear —
He says
up from the back



… somehow imperceptibly the time has deteriorated
the lid of the jar has swollen
and when it was opened
we smelled horror

at night we could not sleep
we were haunted by a disgusting smell
and some rustling

we went out into the kitchen
from the trash can
where we dumped the contents of the jar
crawled some creatures

«don’t look at them,» someone said,
«they feed on our fear.»

we returned to the room
somewhere behind the walls
our spring was dying
in the morning
the moon appeared in the east window
the right part of which
someone chewed off

then the lower part of the sky
was flooded with blood



This music is paid for by someone. Therefore, it cannot be stopped. Someone is pulling it here like an endless thread. And it fills everything with  its terrible rhythms. And every personality, every inner self begins to sway with it. Hell makes sounds, weaves a net out of them.

When an empire decays, its language decays. Language makes people think in the old way, instead of renewing themselves and shaking off the dust. The empire destroys the language, does not allow it to develop, but the language, in turn, destroys the empire and does not allow it to transform into something new. He puts a wooden wheel to her supersonic train. And the empire encourages those who do.
But the language will outlive the empire. Together with a culture that will survive it too. Each dying empire, along with its Honorius, has its own Boethius.

Here is the desert. It is no longer necessary to sow, it will not germinate.
Here are the nomads. They have already killed the farmers. Their sacrifice to the Creator is blood.
Here is the horde. A rushing river. Fleeing and lasso.
Here is the grass. It bends under the wind. He gets up and patches himself up. The stem dries and comes off. The root freezes in the ground.
If not rain, then melting snow.
If not melting snow, then frost.
If not frost, then morning dew. Sweat of the earth.
It will nourish you

Dream  more, but don’t ask. 

There was a morning that  did not light up. I realized this recently. It came, the morning, the clock showed the correct time, but our morning did not light up.
And since then everything has gone wrong here. Everything is broken. Some believe that it was morning, and we have a day now. A warm summer day. And they put on shorts, and take light handbags and leave the house.
— Why is it so dark? — they ask each other. And they themselves answer:
— That’s because we have an eclipse. Something big has obscured the Sun, but this is temporary and will soon pass. And they walk in summer clothes on the cold dark streets, and continue to wait.
— There was no morning, — others say, — the morning never came, although it was promised by irresponsible people. Look at the clock — it’s night. It is a natural night, the sun is deep below the horizon, and no one should be blamed for this. Our area lives according to its time. Look at our latitude and longitude. And you will understand that we don’t have anything that is out there somewhere. Put on fur coats and warm jackets, put on boots. And wait. Summer morning will come when the time comes for this. Or even better — go to bed and sleep until the alarm goes off. Just set it correctly. Don’t let any scoundrels and liars set it.   

And yet I think it was morning. But it did not light up.