The city as though laid out in my palm
And I passed through all my old haunts
I took off easily in youth
Thoughts hung in a beat of easy doubt

Like shades of Aladdin's would-be uncle
Run in four directions
Like spectral American werewolves
Your ice floe roof is splitting

And when you pull the lever of the fire alarm
The elevator will descend releasing
Into the ranks of your Chaldean armies
Into our full-dress Vietnam

No person, no pillar of light, the undead
Just a kiss fixation's victuals
Fishbitch or valor, heart beats faster
Leaving the imprint of one shoe

The stifling incense smell, carnations on the table
The reeking of the freshly drowned man
To the ragdoll string contraption
Add on her sculptural visage

She bears him to the foreign ministry
And in the bullet of the private car
And barefoot Artemis in black-eyed Cypripedium
Will trample scentless gillyflower

And in the colorless aircraft capsule
He'll gulp down sky-sky ripened fumes
And dance the dance of drunken skeletumes
His foot not finding the earth.

Translation from the Russian
By Kevin M. F. Platt, Maya Vinokour,
Eugene Ostashevsky, and Viktor Ivaniv

Photo by Christina Karmalita

Viktor Ivaniv was born in 1977 in Novosibirsk. He is the author of three books of prose, Gorod Vinograd (2003; Vinograd city), Vosstanie grez (2009; The uprising of daydreams), and Dnevnik nabliudenii (2011; Diary of observations) as well as a collection of poetry, Stekliannyi chelovek i zele-naia plastinka (2006; The glass man and the green record). His writing was short-listed for the Debut Prize (poetry category) in 2002 and the Andrei Belyi Prize (prose category) in 2009. Ivaniv currently lives and works in Novosibirsk as a librarian at the State Public Scientific Library.

Kevin M. F. Platt is a professor of Russian and East European studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He works on Russian poetry, history, and memory in Russia and eastern Europe, global russophone culture, and translates poetry from Russian and Latvian. His new book, Border Conditions: Russian-Speaking Latvians between World Orders, is forthcoming in 2023.

Maya Vinokour is a second-year doctoral student in the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in themes of spectatorship in modern Russian and German literature. Also a translator, Vinokour won Academia Rossica's Young Translator Award in 2011.

Eugene Ostashevsky is the author, most recently, of The Feeling Sonnets (2022). As a translator of experimental literature in Russian, he has worked on futurism, the OBERIU group, and contemporary poetry, as well as Lucky Breaks, by Yevgenia Belorusets (2022).