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Stanislav Lvovsky

Tr. Peter Golub

Peter Listens, Paul Speaks

so I’m driving — he tells me — as always to Damask and suddenly
I feel that something’s not right, I turn around
to see if someone might be signaling, maybe the cops, who knows
so I look and feel something is definitely going on, there are blooming flowers
which is impossible, these plants don’t bloom, especially through road tar
on the autobahn, in the median, and the suddenly, simultaneously from all around
everyone starts honking, their windows down, guys screaming:
what the hell’s your problem you skull-fucked degenerate!
and I understand that in five more minutes they are going to tear him apart

so I turn on my hazards — he continues — squeeze up to the median, and get out
and realize, no: I can’t, I’ll be late, customs guys always give me a hard time
and here he is, mother fucker, arms to the sky, I think, I think
of all the times and places, didn’t even bother to wipe the drool off his mouth, idiot
just don’t say anything, I think, please, not now not here

well — he goes on — the situation was clear, he turns around and faces me
what? he says, what do you want, what’re you gonna do?  have you not died outside
you understand, now that you’ve seen me, you’re going to be judged
and I didn’t want to, didn’t want to bring the gavel out, shake off
the powdered wig, I just wanted to make the scarlet, white as snow
why do you need signs, what the hell for!?   I wish you were a greek

then you know — he says — you probably read about it: I went blind, didn’t eat for three days
until Hananiah, a tiny spider, put his sixth paw on my brow, I recovered
healed a man, revived a chamois,
instead of Simon Niger I was the one who heckled the Cypriotes

well — he sighs — would it have been so hard to leave him there, on the road
I wouldn’t have hung on the cross, awaiting the ninth day
wouldn’t have descended in a wicker basket, wouldn’t have become a temptation for others

there — he says — look,  he’s called the jurors
how he coughs after drinking his fill of the morning fire
how for the last time we embrace at the door  

“the floor boards once...”

the floor boards once where here       mice      their house
from here   they stared out the open doorway
watched how the darkness bloated    how the air was sick.
out of the heavy clay    out of sharp grass
the neighboring night children             slowly touched

lamb heart                    morning chalk.
the prints they left on one another
house by the sea     warm winter    not a local one
yesterday’s speech        of the reichschancellor
seeped through the mailbox
down onto the floor     in ink.

and in the large mirror she turned      and waited.
sometimes cried  tried on skirts  jewelry
lingerie     ribbons       whatever was around
he           still didn’t come.
and called    as if he were far away    sent packages
and letters.

the voles    upon meeting in the grass     gossiped
more and more     that he would never come. marika rёkk
sang every evening the same    song.

she would walk out into the tide. all traces
that he left upon her    remained
because in the house by the sea     nothing vanishes.

there, near the water, at the edge       she is still waiting
there in the mouse nest in the dark       squeaks and rustles
she watches in the mirror there     she does not age  nor sleep.
through the short waves    snow falls      marika rёkk is singing

what  as if  the son had measured them    using a wooden ruler from the school
the pigeon weighed      on his scales he carried to the father
and the father lost one in the grass     and to this day
his large hands fumble in the dark     but do not find him.

Moscow Time

So, yeah I gave god god’s, but what am I supposed to give to caesar?
                    — Sergei Magid


the nineteenth hour moscow time
girl with huge eyes
a bittern or some other
large bird         in the subway
throws herself onto her lover’s
neck        he turns away
from her
the end of the work day
rigley’s spearmint
worn out deodorant

an old woman
at the diaphanous entrance
of the mall at
“Airport” station:
help, with whatever you can
a crumpled ten
she puts it away so quickly
afraid, probably
that I’ll change
my mind


children children with torn nails
blind spots in the morning paper.
dead children run onto the earth
scorched white by the morning sun.

the birth of a nation
historical necessity.

(don’t be afraid — he says — it’s not really real.
Come on dad — comes the answer — I’m not a bit afraid)

snow fall       they are almost at the zenith,
birds circle over mount Moriah
darkness descends in flakes heating the eyelids
one of them lays over macerated firewood
the second twists the lid off the canister
takes out a rusty
trophy lighter
gott mit uns spins it between his fingers
tries it for taste before


four in the morning moscow time.
in a dry voice the bittern wheezes
far up north near the swamps.

a southern, summer tanned rush
ravenously drinks the warm
blood of Yishaq.
there’s not one city on the map quite yet
not one referred in the reports.


the childless Sara cadges god for money
he presents a coin on his warm palm
so that she has time to touch it before he pulls it away.

the bittern wails a slaughtered shrill.
and in the landscape’s folds the old hag hides her coin.
here is your night, citizens of the late hour.

alone the rush      sounds a dry dark sea
at the foothills they exchange remarks, the first bell
splits the spine into its individual disks


it sings the magpie calls
all of the airfields are within hands reach
ascend into the sky
by seven steps         descend

moscow time
slow afternoon

old woman
at Telman’s monument

a tightened wrist
with such a loss of heart
as if only Moscow
were behind him
not Budapest
nor Prague

girl in the subway
a small tired bittern
and her lover

a good accountant
in a lousy bank  
mother, free medication, sister
a manager of education
in three years suddenly
discovers, she’s near her time
with a proud stomach
she says fuck the job
the child is more important

says the old
uncle Jacob
I’ll work it off
if needed


it’s clear what to give to god
but what about this caesar?
the u.s. federal reserve
raises its interest rate
again as if in silk
we’ll be adorned in debt

enough with him
all this is nothing

made nonexistent
raised up from the dead
earned in seven years
like a small fish


This is

mount Moriah

subway station

you are listening to open Moscow
radio of the free world

Stanislav Lvovsky

Stanislav Lvovsky

Stanislav Lvovsky (b. 1972 Moscow) graduated from Moscow State University with a degree in chemistry, and now works in advertising. He is one of the founders of the literary group Vavilon, and is the laureate of the Moscovsky Schet Prize (2003). He is a regular contributor to Vozdukh, and helps edit the online journal TextOnly.

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