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Fyodor Svarovsky

Tr. Peter Golub

Battle Near Madabalhan


At the company restaurant
For accelerated nutrition
Is constantly drinking
And reading Kir Bulychev
Vladimir Shcherbakov
Roger Zelazny

For the most part
He walks around unshaven

At home spends most of this time
On the couch
(Brought up by women)
Sometimes he karaokes
By himself
So as not to look too depressed
On Wednesdays he hangs out
With a bunch of rock musicians
And since he has no ear
Plays the drums

He lives with mom
Who guards him against everything
And reproaches him
For being stubborn


On Fridays
When he clearly understands
That life is a test
Of meaninglessness

On inspirtment
He thinks: There has to be
At least one more chance
And falls asleep


The battle of Madabalhan
For the fourth day
The Kainagort
Are being ceaselessly bombarded by the Stalans’
Plasma and heavy lasers

Dust mixes with molecular ash
And even the numb machines
Like scared men
Are convinced it’s now or never

The operators of the troops
Like children
Sit in a distant control room
They too struggle not to weep

Locking himself in the toilet
The main commander
Baron de Konako Striks
Tells himself: You have to bear it
You have to be strong

In the dark heat of the battle
Nuclear flowers bloom
On the horizon



You are a robot
Alone in the desert
After the 121st attack
Your battery
Is entirely drained

All that’s left is to crawl across the fiery carbon
Thinking about how not to get fried
Hoping that the rear instruments won’t fall off just yet

In this hell
It’s hopeless to search for water or a reconnaissance party

Because of the intense magnetic field
All navigation instruments are silent
Or rather yell and scream
Nonsense messages
Impossible to find a vector
To a friendly beacon
To calmly set a course for the navigator
No one is coming

And heavy thoughts
Begin to gnaw at you
It seems too late
To do anything
And using the subspace intercom
You begin to pray, not to your creator
But someone


You know
That robots have no angels
No one worries
Or flies
Or guards
Us in our journey
With invisible wings

This is why in dire times we establish a direct link
And here I am
Asking for water and energy

Most importantly
I am alone

It seems I am dying
But as an unliving
Rewarded no heaven in the end

I know
That you and I aren’t close
And possibly
Never be

Instead of a nose I have
Gas analyzers
And sensory hairs

If I indeed exist
Let me
Fucked up tin
And tangled wire
Killed by 30 seconds in the fire

I ask
Rid me
Of this
Baffling longing

Do you hear
That howl
It’s the sound
Of plasma

Down there
The robots are again beginning the battle
Your sight travels
Near the speed of sound
While deformed mechanisms
Across the silent desert floor

Well then

They are


You are left entirely alone
Among the lumps of burned soil
A piece of metal
A derelict atomic mine
In the middle of
Nobody’s war

You don’t breath
And you don’t hear
That uncanny voice
Or silence

The scorching
Rocks the exposed wires
Like multicolored
Maple leaves
The sand hits the dry metal

You have to crawl
Because the driver
Controlling your lower half is shot
(It’s like a paladin without a camel
Or a horse)

Am like a person wounded
In the lungs and stomach
Without much longer left to live
Without a need for healing


I am on the threshold of eternity
My adventure is over

But if it’s possible
Mr. of the living
And the not
Save me

Free me
From the weight of this thought
And from this dense ugly world
From fat
And from acne
From all those soups
From the shackles
Of borsch
Give me a new body
That would be one thing
So that everything wouldn’t be futile
Teach me how to dress according to the latest fashion
Make so that everyone would leave me in peace
Or so that everyone thought I was beautiful
And so

Or better yet
Just kill me

Says Vladimir
Coming to his senses

But because of the hangover
Or because he’s come down with the flu
His temperature rises
He again prepares for battle
In the desert
He is burning
As the plasma pours



Japanese military robots
Attack Peking

All the Chinese are killed
But because of a glitch in the program
The robots don’t touch the children
Are left among the ruins


Grass rises through asphalt
At Tiananmen Square
Flowers reach the horizon
Along the overgrown streets
Walk mechanical elephants

Their riders — robots —
Are sick

No energy left
In order to recharge they need lead and sulfuric acid
But there is none left
Has been five years
Since the start of the war


A business man’s daughter — Aiko
Lives on top of a hill
In the ruins of the old house
Through the windows — the city below —
And the abandoned prison

She doesn’t wait for anyone
She is alone and 12 years old

Her friends are:
A teddy bear, a dog stuffed with rice
And the remains of some plastic animal

The storeroom is almost empty
All that’s left are a few preserves
And ten boxes of sour wine


In search of a rat for dinner
She wanders into the prison’s basement
It’s dark and scary
Suddenly it seems as if someone were calling her
— Who is it?
— Please, please
Come her quick
I’m so alone
I’m sick
All I can see are abandoned cities


A replicate
That is a robot in the form of a human
Hiding behind the boiler
He is dying
From a heart attack
The special polymer heart muscles
Have weakened
Inside, the motor is choking

— My name is Ruichi CI 9
I need a bit of acid
And sun
Bring it to me!
And get me out of here!


Aiko is scared
This was the robot
Who’d shot at people

Now he lies on the ground looking up
And seems like no enemy
Or monster

— Thought Aiko —
I am alone

She goes to her storeroom
And returns with a glass of wine

The sour wine rejuvenates the robot
And he stands up

Go out into the street
And breathe some fresh air


But to live he needs
To fill
The empty reservoirs
With saline and sulfuric acid

— Somewhere up north, they say there is a government — Mongolia
People there have — cars and electric lights

There might be acid there for robots
And for kids — a factory that makes cookies and candy

Do you remember what candy is, Aiko?

— Of course, not


Why should I spend the rest of my life in the dilapidated house?
— Considers Aiko —
The time passes
But there’s no life
Better to dry out a couple of rats
Take some wine
The toys
And leave
In search of acid and candy

The robot
Atone for his sins
And be a friend to a human traveler
In fact, he can carry me
When I grow tired


How good — thinks Aiko — that there was a war
That the whole country has grown over
All life — the forest and villages
And the cities
— Silence
And torn cables

Only wind
Grass and wind
And the steppe

At night Ruichi starts a fire
And says:
— I’ll stand watch
You get some rest


For ten months they traveled north
And two months to a little to the left
And then a bit more to the north

Ruichi grew tired
The wine long gone
And finally he was entirely exhausted

They lost their way
Couldn’t find Mongolia

Aiko is tired
But Ruichi can’t carry
In his arms


One morning
Only had
Time to let out
A quiet scream

In the short yellow grass
They were spotted
By Marauders
They quickly caught up to them
Hit the robot in the groin
(And his eyes dimmed)
They sent them to the city
Locked them in a prison


These were the Mongolians
But these Mongolians had
No factories
No mills
No acid
No candy
No electricity
They had almost no clothes
And every other one — a cannibal


This is the tenth day
Aiko and Ruichi
Are confined underground
Waiting to be eaten

— Ruichi, what will they do to us?

Probably these people
Aren’t the Mongolians
We were looking for

But I’m not scared
Inside I’m empty

It would be great to fly away from here
See some other places

The robot replies
— Aiko, all this didn’t happen by chance

Why did I fall
Into the basement
Left without acid?

And you happened upon me

Maybe, the true Mongolia
Is not here
But the wind and steppe
We walked
And the empty houses
In the weeds
(Their floors and dust)
Dry flowers
And their dry seeds

It’s when you walk
See hills in the distance
And on the hills high roofs
With flags
And in every yard blossoming plum and cherry

The beginning of summer

Crossing a meadow
A young woman and her electronic friend
See rabbits scatter all around them
Or maybe they are foxes
Not rabbits

You know I like
To talk about all this

Maybe it’s just that, the robot was alone
But didn’t think he was
You too were alone
And then brought down some wine


While the Mongolians sharpen their knives
The captives have little time le-


Nothing will happen to us
— Says Ruichi
The darkness everywhere
Where any innocent may be the punished
Maybe we should disappear
Even if the war
Has long since passed

You know, I picked up a signal
And just answered it
I just didn’t want to get your hopes up

But now I know
There is a special Tibetan super force
On the way

In his message the commander says
He is happy
To rescue us

Just as night falls
They’ll come
And use their lasers
The walls will evaporate
And day will come

You’ll wake up

And I will be a young

You’ll be older

We’ll get married

On Sundays
I’ll go down to the river
As is the custom
With a fishing pole in one hand
And a patina pale in the other

Returning home
With the day’s catch


In the meantime
If you want
We can count and watch the clouds
Or sing
Or simply sit
And wait
Until everything begins
For the sign

— Sign?

— Well yeah
For instance, say we hear thunder

You’ll close your eyes
With the first loud clap
Everything will come alive

(Let what you love
Meet you beyond the grave
— Thinks the robot)

I am
A broken dinosaur
A teddy
A dog
Filled with rice


Fyodor Svarovsky

Fyodor Svarovsky

Fyodor Svarovsky(b. 1971, Moscow) emigrated from Moscow to Denmark at the age of nineteen, where he lived for six years. In 1997 he returned to Moscow and took up work as a journalist. He has one book of poems Everyone Wants to Be a Robot (2006). The journal Vozdukh did a special on him in 2007. The poem “Everyone Wants To Be A Robot” is forthcoming in Diagram

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