back toJacket2

This piece is about 4 printed pages long. It is copyright © Peter Popov 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

Peter Popov

Tr. Peter Golub

* **

my mother
had a small chest
I choked on it
spat and prayed
to the human milk

I bowed before her icons
now I’m your wide eyed Christ
your brother and father
with a beard from God

kill me take me apart
and drink my blood
the animals wanted salvation
well, take it
for luck

only don’t touch my mother
leave my father alone


to have no fear of being kicked and stand it to the end

they also beat me during soccer practice
not very hard

I remember we sat drinking beer
and anxious steam hovered from our mouths

I feared the whistle, they didn’t like me
though, I didn’t avoid sports:
cheered for Dynamo then Spartak

* * *

all of a sudden
I came to you without a reason
it was easy to invent you
in my own image and likeness
from the roadside dust and mud
blisters live on my hands to this day (I can’t
understand why I breathed out
this word, it doesn’t fit
not the right length
it’s not my word,
open to the public)
some anxious air sways on the wind

I will die and so will my articular bursa full of gifts
the train pulls the sorcerers
into moscow
lobnoye mesto[1] waits uninvited
strastnoi boulevard
they look for a bank
that will exchange a samovar
for something generic
they will search for me
to get rid of their gifts
rummaging everywhere
don’t tell anyone I’m here
moscow, I don’t want to die on vorobey hills
or smack lips with juda
I am not christ, nor buddha, nor savonarola[3]
but a moscow type
I came from somewhere over there
like a perpetual cough
a reoccurring flu...

* * *

and where shall I go      with such a jumpy heart
the mouse cursor                  blocks the view
what’s up ahead            really who cares
pick darkness        or the comfort of a studio apartment  
       around moscow for about $100

look for your shadow      on the ceiling
the ceiling            you allow to leak
let it leak out      sorry
there’s nothing left            just junk

drop to drop            mouth to mouth
the people fall asleep      and I with them
the cursor frozen            the tugboat sank

* * *

no darling, it is impossible that a knife
wound would not grow over
even when incredulous the skin breaks through
though not because it’s trembling from fatigue
I wait for you to say: here I am, God, something’s stuck inside me
it sticks out like a heavy blanket
that’s crawled to the end of the bed at night
falls off  
this here is evil
this here is  frailty

quiet stupid: I’ll defrost it in a second

do what you want but there is little left
of me


again I change the code and it turns out the same you think and think come to a thought if only not to stop the present was just here only now not the present the past the future continuing before that which became for me the present why is it that along the present nothing valuable happens (habit?) toss it away like I did in childhood when playing ball with mom or with myself with the wall and the ball waiting for the neighbor girl to finish eating there is that desire to remain in this memory even as the ball even the plate of food washes its hands before what’s happening what’s going on nothing or more precisely nothing from what has happened I get the feeling that for this place I am a barge a piece of ductile copper is it worth the effort for the inability remaining for how many days now it’s all rhythm scary to think that our remembrances are all that’s left of us we are not there we only see it from the side and even that’s run of the mill which way do you like it myself I like it from the back we are alone there is so much all of the sudden and again we disappear among it guys guys you’re off the mark turns out that it is good that it is good that you read me which is also good but not too good or else why is it so good these ruins of entries repeating rhythm where we are not and in remembrance these are not our memories are always imprecise biographical details perpetual incomplete states of affairs and at point be we must remember one another so as to make it bearable in metre there is nothing left of us what’s left is either memory stuck in the brain has details about time and literature stuck in time bits of speech saved at home in their best form this is not my style this is my trouble  

[1] Lobnoye Mesto, is the traditional place of execution in the Kremlin.

[2] KGB prison on Lubyanka Square.

[3] Savonarola was a conservative Italian priest.

Peter Popov

Peter Popov

Peter Popov (b. 1982, Moscow) graduated from the Institute of Journalism and Literature. He is a writer, musician, and journalist. His book of poems Zhest was published in 2005.

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.