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Alexei Denisov

Tr. Peter Golub


Greetings Lida!
If I always understood what I was doing, I probably
wouldn’t have decided to write you, not to mention that...
it’s morning, May 9th, during the parade, but ok,
as a professor you’ll read this piece of paper, it’s
interesting for me to know, what I’m going to write you.

Greetings, Lida, I am writing, you know, it rained this morning.
The morning hasn’t ended yet but the rain has.
Asphalt dries like asphalt — without metaphors.
The sea makes noises, but softly, i.e. inaudibly.
On the other hand I hear how the doltish seagulls scream over the trash
(this simple epithet suites the seagulls well),
children loudly gambol (oughta sick Kharms on them),
neighbors loudly bicker (these I could strangle myself).

Mikhail Kononov lies nearby and quietly mumbles.
He babbles at my face, his suite a good fit.
He knows a lot of things by taste, has felt a lot of words.
But mainly what’s important is catching fish, even if it is from turbid water.

For I am dreaming of 10% humidity,
and that it will be 30 degrees Celsius in the shade,
with the water temperature in Ussuriisky Bay
is around 25, 26, 27
and that the pressure will drop, but gradually
so that radioactivity is not higher
than 15 microroentgen, and so that
the president of our country will be a good person.

They say you are going to the capital.
This is good, after all who doesn’t appreciate a good trip.
However, to change the weather isn’t without its dangers.
And the capital is so big and you’re...
Around here, people usually swim in the ocean during summer.
Lida, do you like to get into the ocean and swim?
I love it. Hmmm...what else can I say about the weather?
It seems you carry it everywhere with you,
in a purse, maybe in your heart, your mind — I don’t know —
your local weather (22—23 degrees).

With what shall I finish this fatuous weather report?
Perhaps with a quote, concealing a foggy intimation?
Stupid, but still why not?
Well then Horace, The Epistles, Book II, action!
“We do not fly with sails full of propitious wind:
though nor are they full of adversity.
With force, talent, beauty, virtue, honor, estate,
we are the last among the first, and first among the last” OK.


All of this is music
when you hear it.
There are also trams
for revelations.
A funny mound of dirty dishes.
Wide sea, fog over the sea.

Look, how life turns into song
(the common place of your illusions).
The first word rhymes the last.
What difference does it make,
what you are ill with?


Once, wandering through a distant valley,
in the city looking for a bit of cash
(perhaps a chance of finding love),
I came upon an old acquaintance’s house, drank vodka.

I live with a strange premonition,
that the wind walks over the sea,
that there’s no rustle in the stuffy garden,
that the coat inside the closet doesn’t move
and the mouth has severely dried.

Ashtray, filling,
filling with ash, butts,
burnt matches.
Who could argue with this?
Who even thinks about it?

We are now free to speak about anything.
Love, I say, Death,
Ashtray, I say,
filled to the brim, I say, with smoked cigarettes.

Perhaps this is how a song starts:
a person who has nothing to say,
opens his mouth, and...
My happiness, alas, is not in your hands.
What was I expecting from you all these years?

Or maybe like this:
I’m flying away, antelope children, I’m flying away.
And the fluff of your cotton trees,
and your birches are painted different colors...
I emigrate inside,
to the very bottom of yours.
And the hand holds no answers,
when it asks about nothing.


Who’s that walking, sullen with a shaven stick?
It is the god of November, and it’s better to leave him alone.
Maybe he’ll pass by, for instance like that cat?
Off you go cat, tail like a stick, why have you stopped?

Who’s that walking, sullen with a stick?
It is the god of November, close the doors, god of November.
Walk on by, come in, gentle, like mom?
Come back soon, don’t go far, you know.

Who’s that walking walking...god be with it, with a stick.
Not with me, not with you, stand aside.
It is the god of November, this is his cat,
this is his house, this is his day, this is his song.


Covered the shrubs with a prickly frost,
covered the stones, covered the trees.
Soon spring will come, and the birds don’t sing yet:
it is still cold here, and there is nothing to peck at.

Soon spring will come, but first the snow will fall.
The northern wind will scurry dogs into perrons.
The wind walks the streets, knocks at windows,
and we have a calendar hanging on the door.

We still have many days ahead.
It will be April, you and I will go on walks.
I will tell you how bad I feel right now,
how I don’t believe that spring will ever come.

It will be April and you will remember this winter,
like all the innumerable winters like it.
The northern wind will return from the other side,
step outside, and be covered with prickly frost.


Let the seagull cry over the hillside.
Throw a rock at it and be cool.
Little happiness is left on earth;
we’ll unbutton letters and books:

It is rare when a cat cannot walk,
step on one of those, and everything is doomed.
In reality everything is so bad,
forget the cat, there is no pity left for oneself.

Seems, like this is the beginning of a story,
in which an occasional grey mouse,
runs by, wags its tail,
and a foolish egg is broken forever.


julia borisovna dear doctor
your patient isn’t doing well
tremor in his hand not alive nor lifeless
won’t you dear doctor prescribe him something

tell him julia about the soul
about god in the head and sun over the grass
how natasha and alesha had some splendid times
tell o do explain and tell o nightingale my savior

he is crazy though still strong
dear doctor julia please do come and we’ll heal him together
hug him from around the back from the good side
talk to him as if he were almost healthy

please do come o doctor julia: water air and shining sun

Alexei Denisov

Alexei Denisov

Alexei Denisov (b. 1968, Vladivostok) has been published in many journals including Znamya, Aftornik, and Deti Ra. He is the author of three books, including Tender Agreement (2000).

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