On the Murder of Boris Nemstov

In Russia, the true medal is the bullet.
A gold pistol embroiders crosses
In crude white thread over golden heroes’
Black case files, as knots for memory.
A blood trickle’s red thread escapes
Across ages, exploding into a fountain,
When the sling is vested with such power:
In the order of the mantle of the bloody lining
Execution rhymes with executive branch.


*Boris Yefimovich Nemtsov (9 October 1959 – 27 February 2015) was a Russian scientist, statesman and liberal politician. He had a successful political career during the 1990s under President Boris Yeltsin. Since 2000, he was an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin. He was shot and killed in February 2015 for his pro-democracy views on Russia, probably by loyalists of Vladimir Putin, on a bridge near the Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow.


Translated from the Russian by Philip Nikolayev


Tatyana Shcherbina is a poet, essayist, journalist, prose writer, and translator. In 1989–1994, she served as a staff writer for Radio Liberty. Founder and chief editor of Estet magazine (1996), until 1986, she published poems and prose in samizdat (author’s books, publications in Mitin magazine). Her first book of poems, Zero Zero, was published in 1991. She also wrote poetry in French; L’ame deroutee won a prize from the National Center for Literature of France in 1993. She translated many modern French poets and compiled the anthology Modern French Poetry (1995). Her poems are translated into many languages, her books in English are published in the USA (The Score of the Game); Great Britain (Life Without); and New Zealand (An Offshoot of Sense). She has participated in many international poetry festivals (Holland, Canada, France, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, Italy, Great Britain, Greece), and she performs poetry readings and lectures internationally.

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