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Valery Ledenev

Tr. Peter Golub


the ladder — line of poetry too long — the metro doors — the colon
the state of things “let us begin it all anew” — (like in Kar Wai’s, remember) —
the colon splitting us — the paper body
cutting corners — slipping penetration inside

for Sasha L.

dreaming that we are the eyes, birds — shades of desire
but we are bird steps photograph frame  
reason to ponder during the telephone beeps
we are metaphor coincidence of sound coincidence in space
we are lips measured in seconds

for Sasha L.

folds in the furniture upholstery
melting traces of presence
uncharacteristic shades of words
above them drifts speech
(saussure draws two clouds)
not closing the lines

you ask why I left
but while you smoke I lie on the sofa

Train Poetry

methodological amusements
the menstrual syndrome of a science
and elusive symbolism of ideas

(O, Alec-sweetie
didn’t you know
the enamored are always tolerated)

two nights in a row
dreams about Kant
what could


this morning we are over the corners of crumpled pages

the world hurries to take shape to that moment
when we open our eyes

behind the window a rain of things is falling


the balcony
where I smoked a cigarette
with you
the face was
a closed circle


there was never a mutual agreement
between us about tomorrow
though there are times
when I don’t think of you at all  


we can whisper back and forth
with the tips of our fingers
and turn white sheets
into metaphors


the multitude of worlds
are unrelated to each other

and there is my own body

I am a model
I am 2 in 1


                   He is of orange flame,
                   Silver, and shadow.
                                              — Lorca

returning from a distant sail  
how hateful this place seems

there was no desire to speak the mother tongue

and in the eyes glimmering trees
with bare parchment trunks
danced as the rings rang  

as if he always searched for something just inside his body:
a proper voice fallen inside
the traces of osculation absorbed by his pores
a heart in which the smell still is
of fat jasmine in blossom

his death was unexpected — he drowned in the river
intrigued by a small fish
it seemed to him as it swam by
that it flirtatiously threw out before him
a pair of seductively thin arms  


I was born and raised in a circus
and served as the target for the knife thrower

from childhood I was surrounded only by performers
with their family quarrels and peripeteias

the motley gamut of their biographies
became my own life

the circus was never funny for me
it teaches cynicism toward everything even death

I never had any male or female lovers
and wasn’t afraid of losing my mind

if so instead of voices I would hear  
only the strike of knife against wood  


                   at night
                   the poems crawl
                   right up to the throat

                                              — Ira Novitskaya

orange juice
a sourish taste

(you know more than me)

you kiss
as if swallowing all of me  

we lose difference

but still

deep down

in our own ways


you woke up
and the morning was in four languages
you were indignant  

there were no more
smells glances
and voices
in the world

a full length mirror
in the bathroom



I read a book from the last page

and accidentally met you on Tverskaya
you reached your hand out

(putting it away into the bag feet up
with the memory of the southern tan)


instead of the sea

Crimean wine and Aivazovsky’s paintings
dolphin corkscrew

soy-bean boys

(thinking it over
I forgot
the third line)


into each other

your hands slip
along the shoulders
resting on the buttocks
unfinished Marquez

there is no material distinction between
you having left
and I having stayed

V.G., A.L.

something falls in the kitchen

it seems to me
that a sound is made inside my room
it is very familiar
I immediately understand
what is happening

on tip toe
I make it to the kitchen
but already
there is
no one

for Grisha Arkhipov

the events occurring
at the same time
(the room has no clock)

Kislewsky in his rendition

the smoke
keeping an intricate shape
in the air
and becoming
against the wallpaper


I am an elegant individual  
on pills
on insulation

not knowing the color of eyes
on the photograph with Lacan’s book in my hands

I have warm hands
they love me

they call me faggot
and don’t smile


I clambered up to the top of the leg

and there we clumsily joked with Aristotle

at that time my skeleton was getting ossified

(I realized I would be like him at his age)

Dreams of Fernando Pessoa

we swam in toxic water

I said
that I wanted to swim away
but you wouldn’t let me

I woke up
I sensed that I was no one

In the Doll Museum on Dmitrovka Street

check out our billowy dresses

our bodies ready for anything
plump faces

we aren’t really dolls
we’re strong cigarettes

fabrications of a psychoanalyst


the desert is cramped in its testa
cramped between two points
pull a sun between them
with a smile at the point of closure
in the desert life fumes at its fullest
melted machismo
on the fabric of masculine bodies

do not touch erogenous zones

(while you slept)


leaf falls to the right of the infant
leaf falls to the left of the infant

then blades appeared
between them grew a tree

when understanding that not everything is easy to put into words
said Freud
that in the beginning there was odium

Valery Ledenev

Valery Ledenev

Valery Ledenev(b. 1985) graduated from the Moscow State Psychology University. He is an editor for LitKarta , and is a regular translator for Vozdukh and the online journal TextOnly . He was long-listed for the Debut Prize in 2007. His first book of poems, The Smell of Print was published in 2008.

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