Three Poems Translated by Ilya Kaminsky and Katie Farris
The First Aerial Bombardment
Serhiy Zhadan, translated from the Ukrainian by Ilya Kaminsky and Katie Farris
The street. A woman zigzags the street.
A pause. By the greengrocery
Must she buy bread? there is not – is there enough? – not enough
Must she buy bread now, or –
Stares at. Stares at her phone. Her phone. Rings.
Mother. She speaks to mother: Mother!
by the window of greengrocery; at the window of greengrocery
as if she is shouting at herself
in the window.
Slaps the phone.
Zigzags the street, shouting at
her invisible – i.e impossible –
Tears. Tears at the impossibility
her mother. Forget
Forget. The bread and each living thing on this green earth. Forgo it. Leave it. Alone.
it begins. The first aerial bombardment.
The Correct Approach
Regina Derieva, translated from the Russian by Katie Farris and Ilya Kaminsky
The ancients spoke well:
briefly – but well.
Their thoughts had little wings –
like Hermes’s –
the ancients were not concerned
that someone might misunderstand –
everyone understood them.
But if one’s mind were weak,
he will quietly become intimate with
a Muse, one of the nine.
And the Muse,
inclining her head gracefully,
will teach him.
She will teach him to continue to stay
silent and silent and silent.
And if she permits him to speak
he will have to speak in hexameters.
[Night. Street. Lamp. Drugstore.]
Aleksandr Blok, translated from the Russian by Katie Farris and Ilya Kaminsky
Night. Street. Lamp. Drugstore.
Dull and sleazy light.
Live twenty-five years more —
It will be as now. No way out.
You die — and again you begin.
All is repeated as before:
Night. The canal’s icy ripples.
Drugstore. Lamp. Street.
Katie Farris is the author of BOYSGIRLS (Tupelo). She has translated and edited several books, including Gossip and Metaphysics: Russian Modernist Poets (Tupelo).
Ilya Kaminsky is the author of Deaf Republic (Graywolf), Dancing in Odessa (Tupelo) and co- translator of Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Tsvetaeva (Alice James).