by Serhiy Zhadan, 2002

In one photo I found in the apartment
that I’m renting there is a girl,
13-14, in a revealing bathing suit
on some beach near a rocky cliff,
the girl looks straight at the camera as if to say: “greetings,
you nerds, it’s me,” and underneath someone wrote “Bucharest ’86,” so now
she’s just under thirty, more or less my age – that is,
if she hasn’t dropped dead in her Bucharest from drinking
which isn’t curable in Bucharest or here for that matter.

Oddly enough, I’ve been thinking of that time -- what mush
filled our brains then! All that intellectual masturbation of the 70’s
those tales about the beats and lefty professors, about freedom of consciousness
and new jazz, which was supposed to be revived by white folks and other nonsense,
so now fifteen years have passed and you can only gather
random testimony about those earth shattering events, and little-known
contemporaries, scattered all over the land, who if they didn’t die of
communism or syphilis now hold history by the throat in their own lands
and are not willing to forgive history for its disgusting sell-out, and rightly so –
angels should have thought three times before getting involved
with those clowns -- they’re at fault, and now must pull them out of their depression
and buy prayer books but, we’re only repeating what
happens in heaven, and what is heaven, if not a hall
of mirrors placed in such a way that, of course, you
can’t see anything.

Everything depends on the weather and the time of year – living in the capitals
of old Europe filled to the brim with fresh immigrant meat,
you must decide what you should really do, for instance
you can walk into a small movie house on a side street far from
the center of town where they still show real old movies,
the torn seats are occupied by a few senior citizens
and perverts watching those eternally young girls
whose faces they first saw in their youth,
and then you can go home to your apartment where
every year there’s less and less air, and there are
more and more demons, who gather around your bed at night
when you fall asleep, carefully examining the tattoos on your arms
and commenting on the most interesting patterns
by quoting Saint Augustine.

translated from the Ukrainian
by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps

links to more poems by Serhiy Zhadan

zhad5.doc 6/21/06

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