Five Russian Poems

translated by Jennifer Lobaugh


Tulips and their capricious labia, their indecent appeal.
The absolute shamelessness of the flowers, but also the sinlessness.
The lushness of the earth, as before the fall.
To while away the evening with flowers and the hardship of dusk.
Yesterday, you said: it’s sad to part, but when now will we meet.
I told you a dream about incest and horror, about my father, about the
     devouring of my body.
Under bridges, in underworlds, in hells – the furious brim of water,
Wind pierces the neck, snatches
the warm flesh of conversation.



She found a corpse in the cabbage with a slit throat.
She found a drowned man and a photo album.
She keeps the photographs safe.

A comb she found from someone else’s head.
Her hands burned for three days.

A memory I found from someone else’s shoulder.
My ears lit up like a birthday.
And will not be excised.



smutted by the tongue
fog ob
scures the hysterical
abundance of things
making them quiet



Inside him climbed the soul of Paul Celan,
but did not settle,
and now he lives without a soul,
“just like a sweater,”
in Helsinki



From the Ferris wheel you can see fall has come:
red and yellow trees; people
fly on a rocket in the middle of sadness. Homeless,
like astronauts in space: never to be
buried, but to drift or burn out
among the stars. Quiet animals gently lick
skin and hair, on Earth.

Translations from the Russian

Editorial Note: Read Jennifer Lobaugh's note on translating Tsibulia's poems from this same issue

Aleksandra Tsibulia is a poet and literary critic based in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Her first book, Puteshestvie na krai krovi (Journey to the edge of blood), was published in 2014 and won the Arkady Dragomoschenko Award for young authors writing poetry in Russian. She works at the Hermitage Museum.

Jennifer Lobaugh is an American poet and translator. Her work has appeared in such journals as The Southampton Review and New Poetry in Translation.