back toJacket2

This piece is about 13 printed pages long. It is copyright © Nastya Denisova and Peter Golub and Jacket magazine 2008. See our [»»] Copyright notice. The Internet address of this page is

Russian movie poster, detail.

Back to the Russian poetry Contents list

Nastya Denisova

Tr. Peter Golub


something is happening

sveta is expecting a child
from an average poet
who’s a little like arseny tarkovsky
sveta is expecting a child
i mean i can’t have an abortion
says sveta
it’s been seven weeks
she’s studying to be a nurse
at a #1 college
rumor is she’s making extra as a cleaner
by her eyes she’s dreaming of the ocean
lying on the hot white sand
thin tan nude
and all the poems and songs are about her

these people come to me in a dream
and interrogate and tell them everything everything
can’t make out their faces they’re sitting behind the light
stupid questions
what did i eat who introduced himself on the street
can’t always remember and sometimes don’t
they’re always happy with my answers
eight women and one man
talk amongst themselves i differentiate their voices
refer to each as vowels  
don’t know what they want from me
but in reality try
to not do anything illegal

the first boy kisses the second
i look for tamara to find out
how to decipher the dream
but can’t find her
the layout of the house changes
i return
the second boy kisses the first
this isn’t happenstance i think to myself
and wake up

when i wake up after a fight
point to any person and say he doesn’t love you
give me a weapon i have a superior ability
i can handle any type of
firearm or coldarm 
and give that heartless asshole one to
let him defend himself

my girlfriends dream of movie fame
who to their surprise acts normally
dries the dishes plays with a kitten
slightly facetious toward herself with politics and weather
gives flowers on the holidays
everything like in a normal person only
an ethereal beauty and a wonderful dancer
my girlfriends catch themselves on the thought
that fame’s smile is beginning to perturb them
a perfect luster even though fame doesn’t brush
she even sleeps with a smile on her face
then my girlfriends write a melodramatic screenplay
lock fame in the bathroom
slide the screenplay under the door
screaming learn the part bitch beside themselves in silent hysterics

i also feel
that i am supposed
to feel something
but forget what

Malaya Sadovaya

not color
not length or width
not sound
not touch
not smell
not zodiac
not walk
not look
nothing will give you away
when you’ll walk
nevsky against the wind
nothing will give me away
when I’ll walk
by the nevsky wind
that’s how we’ll meet
noticed by no one
not color
not length or width
not sound
not touch
not scent
not the zodiac
not walk
not look
give you up to me
give me up to you
when we meet

              — let’s turn here
              — ok

a multitude of cities exist

now i am a girl with flowers
a girl with flowers is always better than a girl without flowers
i have a full colorful bouquet
and won’t give it to anyone
i am a girl with flowers


at best
if every one of my friends marries
i’ll have twice as many friends
if each one has a baby

I’ll have three times as many friends
at worst
i’ll become a godmother
a fairy who comes on the holidays
with jingling presents
all shimmering in lace and perfume
saying goo goo goo ga ga ga
how’s our little angel

at the very worst
i’ll get married and have a baby
and with my girlfriends
we’ll have a circle of amiable families
go picnicking
take our strollers to the park
take weekend walks shopping
discuss the advantages of breast feeding
the benefits of a regular sexual partner
proper diets and low calorie cakes
oh this free love with its tortuous juju
discuss consider redden laugh into your hands
my girlfriends and i we’ll be closer than ever

at the very best
i’ll go to the ocean
devote myself to filming all kinds of sea creatures

i’ll become a director
make a film
with a lot of shots of the ocean
lots of fruit
i’m all tan
you’re all tan
you finally love me
rubbing me down with lotion
blowing gently
so that it doesn’t burn too much
but suddenly
i get
with partial loss of memory
i forget you
and don’t want to remember
put on a dress and sandals
tousle your hair
in a friendly way
and drive to the institute of cinematography
for matriculation


i repeat
the round earth
it hasn’t run away

Encountering Uncle Vasya

i was sitting in the sandbox
braids little shovel bucket
singing grandma’s favorite song
o someone over the hill

wasn’t thinking or wishing
butt through the shorts in the sand
from time to time i’d brush it off
innocently without a care in the world

and man walked up
squatting the man began to speak
made me a little sand muffin
helped brush the sand off

asked how old i was
said his name was Uncle Vasya
glasses moist palms
sitting about my height

so we sat in the sandbox
talked about everything
and he knew everything everything
even about the grasshoppers

promised to marry me
i sang grandma’s song
innocently without a care in the world
marriage when I get older

then they yelled from the balcony
time for supper
Uncle Vasya hi
walked me to my home

gave me over to grandma like a stranger
turned out to be a neighbor
they promised to let me visit
if I made sure to behave myself

like a grown up girl

the first time

prom finish the pack
purse hair heels
strapless dress without lining
classmate pulls me to the bathroom

i’m stiff in one place cigarette burns the fingers
classmate pulls me to the bathroom
so frantic so sincere so vulgar
that i put the cigarette out against him

get drunk get really really drunk
the superintendent calls a taxi
get out the driver has mean expression
heels in hands and begin to run

my driver colorfully swears
turns around and speeds off to his garage
i sit down on the bank
for a breather then collapse

wake up from a touch
street sweeper caught me with his broom
didn’t even notice me
o sweeper there are still good people on this earth

it’s light completely on the street
a child i make my way back home
push the button the elevator comes
with Uncle Vasya — hey fancy running into you


don’t fidget
get drunker
just don’t let anyone know
you’re god god
just keep your elbows off the table

name name name
i see everything but can do nothing
advertising affects me
monogamous colleagues affect me
i know every question holds the answer within itself
ask whatever you want

we sit on the edge of a lake
drinking something
i look at my hands when alla asks
— you love him?
you know what i say?
— what do you mean?
whatever i would have said then
now it would be untrue

the personage says
passion leads to a thirst for possession
a thirst for passion leads to the desire to kill
I listen to the television
repeating to myself

on the way i look at people
what they’ve got written on their t-shirts
a disjointed text is produced

poetry for home use
this could have been a letter to me
but these are not poems

other people

poetry is not for the public
poetry at best assumes a dialogue
doesn’t feel the readers
one active participant
each thinking for himself

cotton drowns the corners

i exert an effort not to speak
not a large effort
the pressure will only benefit
the silence is interrupted with fits of coughing
chest aches
voice very quiet
in most cases i communicate with gestures
when the same begins with you
you go to the clinic
get zinc tablets and cough tea
now you say — you’ve got me sick

— and could you draw that
— i think so
— teach me

when i was ten
i saw my neighbor anya without makeup for the first time
her hair a mess her face covered with green antiseptic
she was sick at home and i came over so she could copy my schoolbooks
i was in a purple wool dress
my head covered with a wide purple velvet hairband
in my left hand a small plastic gun
i shoot anya with little maroon pellets
and chase after her around the communal apartment and shoot her
she laughs saying you’re acting like a little boy
she hides behind a door and the pellets bounce off the door
right now her green flannel gown doesn’t exist


guess moscow time

he says: sveta stay
i’ll work you’ll sleep nearby
in the morning i’ll kiss you
it’s raining outside where are you going
without an umbrella nothing left
alright then answers sveta
letting go of the purse
which falls to the floor and opens
from it jump out a multitude
of colorful glowing balls
floating filling the room
creating a pleasant aura
something like the lights of discotheque

judging by № 1
they throw their rats against the wall again and again
yelling stupid thing you piss and chew
he does not love me
unwind his the tail
on friday the rat dies

№ 1 thinks: the rat was fake
was its death real
on the weekend № 1 is visited by № 2
she kisses № 1 on the cheek
then sees that the rat is gone

№ 1 says that the rat was sick
and that’s why it died
№ 2 is sad and makes the decision
to become a veterinarian to save rats and the like
judging by № 2 they kiss rats
give them diminutive names

i’m confused take me from here
i’ve become a human being
don’t know what kind
located on my back in a shoe box
awaiting further instructions

a large man holding a small woman’s dress purse
between two fingers
runs down an empty corridor
yelling sveta sveta i’ve forgiven everything
sveta but the tickets will go to waste

Nastya Denisova

Nastya Denisova

Anastasia Denisova (b. 1984, St. Petersburg) is the author of the poetry book Nothing (2006). She was long-listed for the Debut Prize (2007), and has published in Vozdukh, AKT, and the Debut Anthology of Poetry. In 2007 she curated the Moscow Lesbian Poetry Festival.

Copyright Notice: Please respect the fact that all material in Jacket magazine is copyright © Jacket magazine and the individual authors and copyright owners 1997–2010; it is made available here without charge for personal use only, and it may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced, or used for any other purpose.