A Summer Afternoon

after troubles steep
the city’s asleep

the peaty smoky sun festers
shining upon rows of baltica #9 beer bottles
with rampant withdrawal symptoms
and cubes of ice and lard in the kvass soup
while the land’s thief-in-chief
with his court of unbelievers and underbelievers
now all full and sweating
– the blue prison tattoo of mother
oozing a blurry tear –
are sitting down to some stos (Russian faro
with six decks of 52 cards pooled into one coffin)
the dark suits the spades and the clubs
when killed off keep bouncing back revived

the sun will soon sink into the asphalt
and come dusk the whole country
gambled fully away will fall silent
a shank stuck in her side and freeze
in astonishment in the tight plywood pit
of the fourth row of a rerun cinema

ice cream heavily dripping

mica stains reflected in the sightless eyeglasses
as the movie projector’s shutter keeps whirring
though the film broke off in the opening credits

Translated from the Russian by Philip Nikolayev


Sergey Kruglov was born in 1966 in Krasnoyarsk. He lives in Siberia and serves as an Orthodox priest in Minusinsk. He is author of the poetry collections Taking the Serpent from the Cross, Scribal, Folk Songs, Nathan, Zerkaltse, Maranafa, Lazarev Spring, The Queen of the Sabbath and several books of church journalism published in Russia and abroad. He is winner of the Andrei Bely Prize in poetry (2008), the Moscow Score and Antologia prizes, and columnist for the Internet publication Orthodoxy and Peace. In 2013–2016 he was writer and presenter of modern Russian poetry, Poetry, the Movement of Words, on the Russian show Radio Culture.

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