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Russian movie poster, detail.

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Nina Iskrenko

Tr. Vitaly Chernetsky

* * *

The talkative beehive of square leaves
dryly punched little Easter loaves of clocks
chestnuts smooth like salt on dark skin
the most precious is the day that died
cardboard sound behind double glass
here and there
little blocks of tears cut out evenly without notches
and sweet sabers of prolonged languor
the sharpened perpendiculars
of grass and night
the castanets of wolves
one should have mourned the last three flights
a hair is tied to cast iron gallows
and the plastic balloon of a kiss
is swinging forgotten under September snowfall
when having overcome the crackling chalk of snowstorm
the trees hide from us
and cool down

* * *

Fourth I’m walking down a street

I carry eight things in a shopping bag
My barrack rose
has gnawed away all the pencils

And the rain                is all hands in pant pockets
jazz-rock           hockey sticks             and victuals
And a theater poster
off a Bakhchisarai shoulder

And I’m exhausted like after
I pester all those passing by
and swear in iambic tetrameter
at the cats on Marx Avenue

And dragging pigeon leftovers
along the sidewalk
and grinning like a human
King Dadon approaches me

he’s in a leopard shirt
with a behaviorist fuse
he opens the door in such a way
as if the heart          has no place             to sit down

And through me for about fifteen seconds
he comprehends Being
and departs like a foreigner
in his flying saucer                  into a better world

And I stand there           not having taken the dog muzzle
off the minstrel head
and sense the smell of the Ministry of Railway Construction
and of Shemakhan sausage

See Olga Livshin: Nina Iskrenko (1951–1995): Lyricism at the End of an Era, in this issue of Jacket.

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