Comrade Stalin

Moscow in mid-March
drowning in fog and sleet
gloomy weather—
for getting high on sweets
or warming oneself
with vodka.
Stalin cardboard cutouts
on Old Arbat
pedestrian walkway
tyrant’s photos in windows
of thrift shops
next to
a bronze chandelier
or a porcelain bear.
People are longing
for the old era
of communist past
food prices
going down
radio in the communal kitchen
translating bombastic
marches
and the famous tenor
Kozlovsky
singing Lensky’s aria
before the young poet
falls in a fateful duel
with Eugene Onegin
the cynical dandy.
The times
when children believed
they lived in the country
of fairness
and brotherly love
among the inhabitants
of the republics.
And comrade Stalin
made sure nothing bad
would ever occur
to all his children
innocent
young pioneers
in red ties
saluting
hopefully looking
towards the dawn
red with the blood
of his enemies
imagined
or real.

*

Anna Halberstadt has been widely published in Russian, English, and Lithuanian. Eileen Myles s first collection of poetry in Russian translation by Anna Halberstadt, Selected Selected, was published by Russian Gulliver in Moscow in April 2017. Anna’s translations of poetry by Edward Hirsch into the Russian, Nocturnal Fire, were published by Evgeny Stepanov’s publishing house in 2017. Halberstadt was a finalist in the 2013 and 2015 Mudfish poetry contests and in the Atlanta Review 2015 contest and a winner of the International Merit Award in Poetry 2016,  the International Poetry Competition in the Atlanta Review,  and awarded a Poetry prize 2016 for a group of poems in Russian by Children of Ra journal. Her Vilnius Diary in Lithuanian has become one of TOP10 books, published in Lithuania in 2017, as named by the Lithuanian news site Lt.15. It was also chosen for the list of most important books in translation 2017 by the Lithuanian Translators Association. Нalberstadt was named Translator of the Year by the literary journal Persona PLUS 2017 for her translation into the Russian of Bob Dylan’s poem “Brownsville Girl.”

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