Andrey Voznesensky

Translated from the Russian by Alex Cigale and Dana Golin

Give Tashkent Aid!

A surveyor's tripod gone rabid
has impaled a woman to the wall.

Give Tashkent Aid!

            If you have wood—help,
            if you have bread—help,
            if you have—help,
            if you don't—help!

You, Earth, give birth.
They say beautiful mountain ranges

will rise here.
Could they be beautiful enough
for living people to get snuffed?

Among the ruins, like hurt,
     the noise of applause is heard—
a little girl is catching a moth.

Give Tashkent Aid!

A garden above Hades. See it?
     A colonnade has been skinned.

As though a finger to the ages
suspended above boulevard—a half-Pushkin.

We survive to spite
     the damned aftershocks.
How you've been tossed,
Akhmatova's little white house!

            If you have blood—help,
            if you have a roof—help,
            where there's pain—help,
            by yourself—help!

I will return my ticket.
     Flight's unthinkable, isn't it?
From your wretched sick,
suffering and miserable!

Can it matter whom you lived with?
     Whom you free from rubble is key:
before rescue—strangers,
only those saved—familiar.

I am reciting to you this
in unspeakable sadness.
I am reciting to Calamity
that it become a little lighter.

How our home is trembling.
(How are you? in one piece? unscathed?
I am trying

in detail....)
I'll rhyme it later.
Give Tashkent Aid!

            dear woman—help,
            help a little gentler—
            a city that's been dynamited!

Mayors, movie stars, students,
     poplars, bread wholesalers,
all breathe into one sky together.
Do not disturb sleeping Tashkent.

What a price to have paid.
There are no roofs. Only sky.
No roof is more dependable.

(And you free of Calamity?
Refrain from feasting just yet.
Keep your conscience as clear.
Give Tashkent Aid.
Hey you, the Club of Literatarantulas,
     aren't you tired of dishing monuments?

Better write with talent.
Give Tashkent Aid!)
... A doll under boot heels.
Give Tashkent Aid,
the same way it assists you
to become yourself.

It is your resume.

Riga lamprey eels swimming toward Canadian shores
migrate to their ancestral spawning grounds.
     Do not rededicate the names of streets.
Build new ones that you may consecrate.
     Here people lived—and each a miracle.
What if suddenly they return drawn to the Neva river?
     I will remember you forever.
In reality, temporarily, while I'm here on earth.

Poems aren't written—they manifest,
like feelings or, let's say, a sunset.
The soul—a blind co-conspirator.
I did not write this—it so happened.

Note to E. Yanitskaya,
                                     Mayakovsky's former typist

Mayakovsky owes you something!
I've come to pay.
Excuse him—he didn't make it.

Life so determined my identity
that I, for Lermontov, for Lorca,
will pay a debt for eternity.

Our indemnity terrible, interminable,
a repayment both bloody and red.

I thank my fathers and forefathers.
Spin on, the wheels of history....
But who will render my debt for me?
Will recompense and redeem everything?

One can't invent a more perfect moment
than, revealed, as though at random,
like a book, not yet read to the end,
in disarray, spent, sleeping lovers.

(2 Variants)

In the street.
It's so sweet!
Theater this!
Wits to see!

Translated by Alex Cigale


Translated by Dana Golin

Nostalgia for the Present-Real

I don't know about the others,
But I for one feel the most strict
nostalgia, not for the past but
nostalgia for the present moment.

As though a penitent seeking God,
but access is only to the ferryman—
just so I am pleading for access.

As though I've created something odd,
or perhaps not even I—but others.
I'll collapse in the meadow and sense
a nostalgia for the living grass.

No one will separate you and I.
But when I embrace you in my arms,
I embrace you with such longing,
as though I will be deprived.

The doors of my tool shed flung wide
open into the garden won't redeem
my isolation. I long not for great art;
I am deprived of air for the present.

When I hear the selfish tirades
of a fallen, misguided comrade,
I seek not a likeness but the original,
and pine for him, for the real.

All's formed of plastic, even the pilgrim's
tattered rags. I'm bored of living in
a sketched draft. You and I will not exist
in the future but the little country church....

And when the idiotic mafia laughs
I tell them straight in their face:
"You were idiots—in the past.
In the present, understanding grows."

Black water splashing from the faucet.
Orange water, stale, splashes also,
Rusty water sprouts from the spout.
Wait long enough—the real comes out.

What's past is past. All for the best.
But when I taste, like mystery,
nostalgia for the real-present,
what eventuates, I can't catch it.


Connecting us to other worlds,
gazing with the eyes of fathers,
                      their eyes wide open,
the periscopes of dead men.

On the death of Pasolini

like Lorca before him,
muzzled in,
doused in deathly chlorine.

There's a single defining point
that will never go out of fashion:
Those being killed—are poets.
That which destroys them—Fascism.

Bivouacking among the coeds
Proliferate literati of various heft.
But if no one's killing poets,
there are none worth killing left.

Georgian Bazaars

Long live Rubens!
Rainbow trout fountains,
Colorful crudeness!

Mules and melons,
Each day—a feast.
Like tympani—sellers
In bracelets and beads.

The turquoise of turkeys.
Wine and figs.
Broke, young, and quirky?
Drink for free!

The vendors of lettuce,
Like conical conifers,
Long live the fat ladies,
Four arms in circumference!

All's fiery, molten,
The well-tanned arms
Glow burnished golden.

Like oil slicks on plaster,
Young grape's golden fizz.

Long live the master
Who'll capture this!

On Rafts

The Yenisei River carries us.
            Like rafts on the endless, black water.
I belong to no one!
I am not yours, not yours, not yours!
I hate the hollow
            Of your lips, your hair,
                        dress, dwelling place.
I had spit
On your sacred and hypocritical name!
I hate you for the lies
            Of your postcards and telegrams,
I hate like a knife
            That despises the living at night.
I hate your silk—
            Your cascading nylon of drapes.
More than canvas for a painting, I need a sack!
            Of Moscow's profane payphones.
I am terrible like the prophet Jonah,
            Swollen and turned black from gnat bites.
The blue cheek of the fisherman,
            Shining like the scales of the common carp.
"No" to tears,
"Yes" to manly tanned-like-hide hands.
"Yes" to rowdy women, washing like steeds trucks,
"Yes" to the nozzles of fire trucks
That hose sadness off of me.

A poet doesn't have to rhyme,
but, understand, he can't ignore
the way a slender patch of light
screams, as it's crushed under a door.

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