This season it’s fashionable to come out
With an epic poem in Literary Damascus
About patriotic Urals dwarves who
Forge deep in the earth the swords of victory.
It’s fashionable, yes, but it’s classier
To switch to a different expressive medium
For a jolty ride in a highbrow film
As you sample curdled vodka from the canister.
A solar flare of cigar smoke drifts behind
The leader departing this world of strife.
Petitioners wait in the reception room
Of the Mayor of the Fourth Rome.
The boss of Saint Petersburg’s cabs is dispatched
To raise Saratov from its knees and ruins,
Where in the liquor store they check your passport
Once for every 100 mls of hard booze.
And this is why you aren’t exactly there:
A disembodied ghost, you’ve flown to where
In a surreal unprepossessing scenery
Houses are stacked like logs awaiting fire.
Translated from the Russian by Philip Nikolayev
Alexei Alexandrov has been published in numerous magazines, including Air, Volga, Children of Ra, and others. He is the author of three books of poems: Without leaving his cartoons (New York: Ailuros Publishing, 2013), These were torpedoes of good (Saratov: Music and Life; Amirit, 2018), Silent tracks (New York, Ailuros Publishing, 2019). He was inner of the festival “Cultural Heroes of the 21st Century” (1999) and serves as poetry editor of the magazine Volga.