the sky is for pilots and the sea is for sailors.
they move around circularly, feeding the flames of war,
but solid land too is within reach, of course,
and far from far.
sing of bohemian brick cellars and of tobacco smoke,
keeping your soil samples clean, don’t intermix the clays,
protect your chitin, don’t let the bastards make a joke
of your verse lines.
remember: you have survived half a million years
and you will live just as long, a seashell, a trilobite;
the style of heroic death doesn’t strike you as quite yours,
you don’t care a mite.
the air is for angels, while fishing control owns the waters,
prowling the waves in a speedboat like a night owl on;
but the vertebrae of the earth and time’s mesozoic lifeforms
are for you alone.
Translated from the Russian by Philip Nikolayev
Gennady Kanevsky is a Moscow poet and essayist. He has been published in Homo Legens, Vozdukh, Volga, Banner, Novy Bereg, New World, October , and Ural. He is the author of six poetry books, a book of selected poems, Séance, and is published in anthologies of Russian and U.S. poetry. He has been a participant in poetry festivals in Russia and Ukraine, the poetic program of the Art Biennale in Thessaloniki, and has had poems translated into English, Italian. Hungarian, Ukrainian and Udmurt. With Anna Russ, he was the winner of the 2007 Moscow Poetry Slam, the Moscow Observer Award (2013), the Megalit Independent Award (2013), October Award (2015), and a Special Award of from Moscow Schyut (Moscow Score) for Seance (2016).