Linor Goralik
translated from Russian by the author

in hell the Thursday is most usual
on Thursday everything's most usual
for most of us, this torture isn't easy:
some of us vomit, our eyes are sore,
we're really frazzled when we reach the office, -
and there it's Saturday and 5AM
(in hell it's almost always 5AM)
and chaffinch flies into our little window
and picks our lungs, as always, grain by grain.

* * *

No we've not gropped ours while yours has asked for it
while yours with every soldier two shots and good to go
and ours never drinks or smokes or eats unhealthy carbs
and must be so delicate so delicate we guess

No ours isn't painted just wears some gentle blush
not smeared with any war colors just tinted tastefully
while yours is whitewashed, polished and marked head to toe
and those marks tell us so much about all of you

No ours wouldn't just roll in or show up at night
first parents then some relatives and maybe only then
while yours will burst in loudly before the morning dawn
all screams and shrieks and jerking hands and poor poor mom

So nobody believes your lies you dirty animals
that yours and ours have even met forget the meeting tongues
that is your Death who's taking rides on every dirty cock
while ours is beautiful and keeps her cherry locked

* * *

This night, good doctor, I have found out
what I would give my life for. To forget it,
by morning's early light I'd give my life.

So guess no more why in the middle of
this gloomy day my life has left me: yes,
it really loved me, it was even crying, -
yet the offence turned out to be too much.

* * *

                     To Alexander Barash

How can anyone write poetry after January 14, 1942?
After February 6, 1943? After March 11, 1952?
How can anyone write poetry after September 11, 1917?
After July 1917? After March 1984?
How can anyone write poetry after November 6, 1974?
April 4, 1965? August 1, 1902?
May 8, 1912?
How can anyone write poetry after the 26th of the last month?
After June 10 of the last year? After June 12?
After December 14, 1922?
After the last Thursday?
After what happened today at three?
Only November 1, 1972 has probably been worse.
Or maybe April 12, 1973 was even more horrifying.
Or August 6, 1986. September 4, 1913. Or, say,
July 25, 1933. Or July 26.
Someone probably fell off a wheeled library ladder,
broke his back, will never move again.
Someone probably died
made a mistake
exploded himself together with the hostages
Someone's kid must have ran out for an ice cream
just a couple of blocks away
and never came back.
No, just around the corner. No, literally, just the next door.
No, he came back, eighteen years later, on March 25.
No, twelve years ago, on November 24, at 3 PM.
Died on the 26th of the last month.
Wrote a single poem, a really bad one.

* * *

No, not so much will change for us in five years.
And after that, not so much will change
for us in eight years. After those years,
not very much will change for us in ten
more years. In ten years they will be
some – five years old, some – eight.
They will be sure
that in a year their world will change completely.
In five years they will think that maybe two
more years might change a lot.
And after that in eight
more years they'll think that many things can change
in one decade -
but we will stay the same.
We were the same five years ago, and eight, and even ten, -
just taller, and, well – maybe something else,
a little something, something that has changed
so slightly ---
never mind.
They'd look at us and think: “Ten years. Or twelve.
Sooner or later, yes, but inevitably.
And it's disturbing, but – what can you do?”
And they themselves will be not old at all,
but those others will be five or eight
and everything is gonna change
so fast.
Then we could say: “Stay put,
it's gonna get a little better in
eight years – or maybe ten.
But by that time
many things can change -
for us, of course.

* * *

When Death comes home from the cemetery,
she passes kitchen where the dinner's waiting
and passes on the bed, shoes on, exhausted.

You stop and hold your breath and fork and knife;
you need a moment for the appetite
to overcome the stale exasperation --

Just like it does on every morning when
she climbs on top of you and starts to wriggle.

* * *

How does one die on the 5th of the month?
How does one die on the 3rd of the month?
How does one die on the first Tuesday of?..
Just lying there and thinking: “All museums
are closed today for sanitary reasons.
Inanimates are begging resurrection,
and mounted lions calmly face the exit
to the eternal light
while being dusted”.
How does one die around four o'clock,
when kinder-gardens work on their digestion?
And how does one die before the news?
Or seven seconds after nine? Or six?
Or even four? Or now – now – now?
Good martyrologist, you'll really have to sweat
to make our passionary accurate.

* * *

In a sweaty bus on her way to the market
she imagines an accident -
how they will both go to haven
where he'll love her again,
and there will be no more chest pains
every time she sees billboards with some stupid palms by some stupid beaches.

Eight years of marriage;
they can still tie all the bones back together
when golden leafs will shine their light upon them
and wondrous fruits will hang
dexter and sinister.

Suddenly the bus jerks,
comes around a van,
stops by a sign with apples and oranges.

He imagines an accident -
how he goes to heaven
and there, finally, cries his eyes out.

* * *

To Korney Chukovsky, who wrote Fedora's Grief –
a scary children's poem about one nasty housewife who never
washed her dishes until they ran away from her.

That night,
that warm spring night
he passed from door to door
and told them all to get ready.
Some were given a heads-up,
most of them weren't.

At first he was mortified
so sure
that something will give them away:
the bewildered hubbub of hutches,
the rusty rattle of roasters,
china's hysterical chiming.

Than it became irrelevant.

Long-faced herring dishes were wailing,
little vodka glasses trembled, confused,
red-faced irons, heavily droopy,
herded and blocked the doorways.
Grey plates were flying around,
loosing their musty bearings, -
spotted tablecloths,
dirty kitchen wipes,
grandma's sacred napkins.

Sticky-fingered greasy roaster
swiftly put silver spoons in his mouth.
The old saltcellar was shaking her dusty, well-thumbed sister
who mumbled hysterically:
- She will catch us and kill us!
She will catch us and kill us!

He clumsily hit her
with his split wooden hand.
She closed her holes.

When they've finally started to walk downhill,
the whole village was eyeballing them,
every window was staring.
When they've got to the river,
Fedora's stomping was already making
his dim iron sides

Those dragging behind were cursing on him,
falling into ditches, coming off.
Those in the middle were crying, cursing on him -
– yet walking,
Nobody led the way -
only him,
with his bending old legs,
covered head to toe in a sticky yet silent horror
of responsibility
and doubts.

When they've finally reached the river, -
all broken, creaked and fractured, -
he turned to them and said:
'You shall see,
we will enter this water
and come out all new'.

At that moment the waters parted.

* * *

The dark-blue thing turns bluish.
The pale thing crawls out and becomes white-hot.
The green thing was burnt yellow on the first days of summer.
Now it turns brown,
throwing a lilac thing
on those black metallic things.

The pale one spits out some red.
Two spotty ones gaze at the endless yellow,
sharing a smoke, waiting for the weightless milky thing
to mix with the red thing,
making everything a little bit brighter,
especially the greens and the browns.

The pale one is still scanning
the unthinkably blue thing,
his dim eyes
red with pain and insomnia:
maybe a silver one will appear
blindingly roaring, raging,
or maybe a golden one
whirling its whispering wings

The two spotty ones
raise their smooth black things.

It could all be much easier
if the colorless sluggish thing
was not always turning Reds into Browns,
Blues and Greens – into the spotty ones
who hurry
to share a smoke
before the dark-blue thing turns bluish
before the white things gets pale and crawls behind the edge of the endless yellow,
bathing it with scarlet
that keeps spilling out of a little black
right under the the blond ones.

Two spotty ones drink some muddy
from a rusty copper.
The dark-blue turns blackish.
They walk slowly,
one of them suddenly vomits brown.

The God's vineyards are ripening,
His wine is flowing under the sands.
The Red one doesn't part.
The White one stays dead.
The Dead one stays too salty.
The Black one stays gray.

* * *

Rock's holding paper,
scissors are cutting out the signature and the stamp.
It is almost over.

The rock's thinking: Some nurse I am.
God, she smells like a clam.
Once I was a mathlete; I'm nauseated;
swear I'll vomit sooner or later
The scissors keep thinking:
God, we need a cup.
Someone else should be stitching her up.
Those chicks just go under every stamp.
Jesus, it smells like a clam.

The paper is thinking: It is almost over
It is almost over

* * *

after an hour the soul puts down its pencil and asks for some water
asks the body to turn on the lights while it's wandering in the dark
asks to let it sleep – only to stay awake, stare at the porous dark,
at itself surrounded by the matter.

after one more hour the soul finishes listing names
muttering little claims
asks the body to open windows
the body's afraid of cold
the air stands still while the soul
puts on its martens, its hoody and bandolier,
comes to the table.
the supper is getting set
and the body silently stares as the soul munches slowly,
washes its hands, grabs its papers,
starts to forget all its letters and signs and symbols
all its sons and husbands and wives.

After one more hour the soul takes its last bite of the body
and sips some blood
puts on its parka
walks towards the door
the body follows
they say their awkward goodbyes

the body's still there
when the soul opens the gate
at the very end of the road

* * *

The second one comes in, rushing,
and sees the first one -
already calm, already fully embraced
by this place's thick, sticky warmth.
- Thank God, Natasha! Come, give me a hug, Natasha!
The second one feels unbalanced
for a moment or two.
She passes through, reaches the back
of the left lung,
makes a tiny hole,
picks out.
No, no, there is nothing good out there – just rain and rumble.
I was really rushing, didn't even take a look around.
It's all so sudden:
just this morning
we were lying side-by-side in mom's charger -
and here we are
all grown up.
I was so scared.
It's so good to find you here, Katya.
No, no, I've got warm already.
Oh, it's so good to find you here, Katya.
It was all so sudden, we didn't even say goodbye.
I thought I will never see you again.
Gosh, why are you crying, silly?
Look – I'm not going anywhere, I'm right here.
We are warm, we're together, nothing bad can happen.
You know mom -
of course she will find us.
Stop it, silly, or I'll also start crying.

* * *

I don't know, Jenny.
Maybe he does it on spite,
maybe it's just the age thing.
But never before
Almost straight A-s
We didn't even notice, when
Looks like he's skipped school
when he came home, he already wore that uniform
Mark was yelling at him like a madman
“Plainbrained dreamer”, - he called him,
or something.
At loss of words, really.
But he just grasped his service cap,
just like he used to grasp his grey baby blanket.
What can I say, Jenny
Maybe he'll come to his senses,
maybe it's just the age thing.
Mark, - I said, - maybe he'll to to college just after.
Maybe two or three years — and he's fed up with it, really.
He'll even get discounts, and with age we learn better.
You can imagine what I was told, Jenny.
Well, you can imagine what I've said, really.
He was so soft as a baby, he ate everything you would give him.
On the streets they always look so skinny
all bruised, of course, you know
Makes you think: must have been always a C-student,
a little inkblot, some early dropout.
Makes you think: maybe his mom is happy.
After all, not a thug, not some gangster, but an inhibitor
of serotonin-specific re-uptake.
But almost a straight A-student, even a mathlete
I don't understand, I just can not get it
Three generations of antiseptics, Jenny
Except, you know, our poor Pavel
But even he was an antipyretic.

* * *

To Hayut

Eve comes home from her pre-school day
(two years old this Saturday)

- Honey, what were you doing today?
- Beating Jay.

Jay's destiny has just started rolling -
there it's rolling.
Eve's destiny is gonna start rolling -
there it's rocking.

* * *

Towards the Cancellation Оf Limbo by the Roman-Catholic Church

There is no difference at all, my Jenny:
while yours are stricken numb,
my folks are stricken
with grief; while you don't care,
I can't stop crying;
while you are twelve,
I'm three and seven months, -
but here we are, enjoying our apple:
all core and seeds, as dry and hard as rock,
yet sweeter then their custom-fitted masses
(while mine are Catholics,
yours folks are stupid).

This is the last day. We don't give a shit.
You'd think we would be praying, guessing, chanting,
confessing, shaking, counting our sins
or dying every minute, resurrected
next minute by another weightless rumor
about who will go where and when.
But you and I – we're sitting on a sill,
you're fidgeting, I'm clenching your white collar
in my unwashed, sweaty little fist
while trying not to fall off your plump knees,
and we are fumbling our cigarette,
and I'm exhaling smoke into the dent
left by a beam behind your rosy ear.

When you were shooting them (your mom and pa), -
when later you've ascended to the sill, -
when I was running where I knew I shouldn't, -
when Jack was going out without his sweater, -
when Luke was slowly walking towards the highway, -
when Anny was a smart-ass with her grandma, -
when Hadj was blowing up his heavy tote-bag, -
when Wang was creeping up on his step-brother, -
when Mike was opening the door to strangers, -
when Emily was playing with a lighter, -
when Bill was catching that unlucky kitten, -

we all could suddenly smell huckleberries:
you, me, and Hadj, and Luke, and Wang, and Bill,
and Jack, and even Mike – imagine that! -
could sense the smell through all those bloody rags.

It was a truly outstanding moment
in the long history of huckleberries.

* * *

And here the snow keeps
keeps rising up
and falling.
And in that snow we keep
keep rising up
and falling.
And they keep shaking it
(the globe)
keep shaking

(c) Linor Goralik