“Whoosh…” by Dmitry Blizniuk, translated from the Russian by Sergey Gerasimov

The End of Capitalism 6, Kathryn Leonard-Peck

Unfinished portraits of artists as young men
I’ve been stumbling across you all my life. Your gray hair
is peppered with the ashes of your burnt manuscripts
like rose bushes are powdered with wood ash.
But there are no flowers around,
just an unpretentious vacant lot and a rusty post in the middle.
When you were young, someone concluded that your talent was odd, ugly,
out of season, or still-born.
So it was burnt in the crematorium of the common sense
like a rag doll of Gogol
that could otherwise rip and tear with its plastic claws
the silk coating of ordinary life.
The ashes of Muse, rich in calcium and sadness,
were used for fertilizing soils, 
as a food supplement for broiler chickens.
And lyric poetry was rendered down into fat. 

You, talented kids,
unaccomplished geniuses,
society captured you alive, jailed – but not executed.
Instead, already at school, 
you had your index and middle fingers cut off,
like it was done once to medieval archers.
So you never in your life
will draw the string of a gorgeous longbow,
never play a nocturne on the double bass of the sky.
Talented shadows and the shadows of shriveled talents,
How many of you are alive?
Where are you now?

You didn’t play the melody through. 
You left your toy violins in the grass of oblivion,
but someone will pick them up,
someone will bring up new, obstinate geniuses,
leading them through fire and tears, through sweat and joy.
I show the two-fingered salute to apostates
crowding on the other bank, to their limos, their drunken illumination,
teasing them – Look! My fingers are fine! They are with me!

But, my God, so many times I’ve seen pieces of fingers on the grass.
Hurriedly, with a broken needle, I’ve tried to sew 
phalanx to phalanx,
vers libre to vers libre.
And now my Muse, wearing a long evening gown
that shimmers seamlessly into the night ocean,
is drawing the string, and the double feathered arrow
made of grasses, and songs,
and splinters of poetry
is trembling at her dark lips.


недорисованные портреты художников в юности,
я встречаю вас всю жизнь. ваши седеющие волосы
посыпаны пеплом рукописей –
так посыпают кусты роз золой.
только здесь уже нет цветов –
лишь неброский пустырь да ржавый штырь.
ваш талант в молодости посчитали нелепым, 

уродливым, несвоевременным, мертворожденным –
и сожгли в крематории практичности,
как тряпичную куклу Гоголя,
чтобы не рвала пластмассовыми ногтями
шелковую обшивку обстоятельной жизни.
вот так прах Музы, насыщенный кальцием и печалью,
шел на удобрение чернозема, благосостояния,
в пищевую добавку для бройлерных кур.
так лирику перетапливали в жир.

вы, одаренные дети,
несостоявшиеся таланты,
точно средневековые лучники,
попадали в плен общества – вас не казнили,
но уже в школе отсекали мечом
большой и указательный пальцы,
чтобы вам больше никогда-никогда
не натянуть тетиву шикарного лука,
не сыграть птичий ноктюрн на контрабасе неба.
талантливые тени и тени высохших талантов,
сколько вас?
и где вы сейчас?

вы не доиграли, на половине пути бросили
игрушечные скрипки в траве забвения,
но кто-то подберет плюшевое недоразумение,
крокодила Гену с пуговичными диалогами,
и вырастит упертых гениев: сквозь жар, огонь,
слезы, медные трубы радости, характер и пот.
ну что же: я показываю пальцами – v – супостатам
на другом берегу, их лимузинам, пьяным огням,
благоразумному мышьяку «хлеб всему голова».
дразню их – мои пальцы целы! смотрите!

но боже! сколько раз я подбирал нелепые обрубки в траве
и пришивал их кое-как, наспех, обломком иглы
фалангу к фаланге,
верлибр к верлибру.
а сейчас моя муза в длинном вечернем платье,
исподволь перетекающем в ночной океан,
как было сказано выше,
точно палец, подносит к темным губам
двойную стрелу
из трав и пения.
из осколков стихотворений.


Dmitry Blizniuk is an author from Ukraine. His most recent poems have appeared in Poet Lore, The Pinch, Salamander, Willow Springs, Grub Street, Spillway, and many others. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he is also the author of The Red Forest (Fowlpox Press, 2018). He lives in Kharkov, Ukraine, and is a member of PEN America.   

Sergey Gerasimov is a Ukraine-based writer and translator. He studied psychology and has authored several academic articles on cognition. When he is not writing, he teaches, plays tennis, and kayaks. His work has been published in Russian and English, appearing in Adbusters, Clarkesworld Magazine, Strange Horizons, J Journal, The Bitter Oleander, and Acumen, among many others. His last book is Oasis published by Gypsy Shadow. The poetry he translated has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes.

Kathryn Leonard-Peck writes poetry, plays, and short stories, and is completing her first novel. She also paints. She graduated from Dartmouth College and Columbia Law School, and is an attorney. She lives on a farm on Martha’s Vineyard with her family. Her work has been published in literary journals, including THEMA, Blink Ink, IHRAF Publishes (the International Human Rights Art Festival magazine), Auroras & Blossoms/F Point Collective, South Road, and The Stonefence Review. She was the second place winner for the Martha’s Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing (MVICW) Vineyard Writers Fellowship.