translated by Kevin M. F. Platt

to V. L.

Where were you led by the keyword search
for your own name, following the links,
you suddenly find yourself twenty years later
in an apartment without a single book,
without bookshelves.
Your town has completely gone to seed, and never
(you can watch the weather forecast to the end)
never on a single channel
will it be mentioned by the meteorologist.
(Weather takes shape at random.)
Yet the heating is set old-man high, which ruins teeth,
and cooking like old ladies, like unwashed carrot runts
(you work a market stall until it's dark) sleepily
your fingers part — the remote falls
the remote falls, and falls to the floor. . . . Caught a cold,
you get tangled up in plain sheets, oversleep, are roused
(tormented by bills, a neighbor rages through every wall),
you throw a questioning glance at wallpaper, in this shot
you've not yet been subjected to the homely iron,
your marriage is still supported by overwhelming credit,
the house is still mortgaged, and still — the computer
is more sensitive to spikes in the current than you
to shifts in pressure, and suddenly you come to your senses;
on the last day of the week they shut down the network;
you take a stroll, try to shut
all active windows, ask for books,
at the least the ones for poor folk: 100 ways to get rich,
to repair karma, answers in ten steps, . . .
how to get married, lose weight . . .
How can I get out of here?

Translation from the Russian
By Kevin M. F. Platt

Photo by Kevin Platt

Artur Punte is a member of Orbita, a creative collective of Russian poets and artists. He is a media artist and also works as an advertising writer in Riga, Latvia. A graduate of the Gorky Literary Institute in Moscow, he is the author of two books of poetry in Russian and has published in the journals Daugava, Vavilon, Orbita, and others.

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.