Evening and Other Poems

  • Vladimir Gandelsman



This is a city of blind,
pinkish, trapezoid-like walls
that defend those alive
from terrible winds
this a city of deaf side streets,
unhappy and silent,
dense beautiful
snow storms.

This is a city of shadows
in sickly courtyards,
this is a city of people
waiting to be extinguished.

This is a city of hills
beloved by kids,
this ancient image
warms my heart, —
take it, if you wish,—

this is a city of winter,
tangerine peels,
frost, twilight,
rows of lights
in yellow iodine shade,
and iron horses,
and that passer-by. . .

So, stay alive, freeze in the ice
of your chains.




On joy- a bridge falling asleep
its spans half-closing
their eyelids,
how snow keeps flying onto trees,
into their forever-open brains,

on river-bed, where a violet drill
revolving heavily
its burdens,
sways heavy chains of
mercury seines

and my little matchbox–
gets buried-up to the roof by snow,
gifted for the time-being
by a seasonal severe frost…
Two-three landscapes, feelings, two-three themes
and the God of childhood–

this is all there is, all crumbs inside.
On joy, on differences – outside
the stillness’s great.
Soul or body – how any season
is so much better, than they are.

Only the speech, precise, lifted from the bottom,
Wet and free-flowing
is what all of this different–
blind, randomly picked up–
speech always equals.

On joy–on how everything around
slowly falls asleep, on how
a militia’s comet flies,
wrapping the greenery of light,
of snow,
around its wheels.




Reading a book in an empty apartment
suddenly interrupted by someone’s steps.
Who’s flashed momentarily in the corridor, stop.
No one’s there—in the corridor. Can’t see a thing.
Who made his way towards the mirror,
or, perhaps, towards a rhyme,
that, like silk, caresses an apparition,
which just appeared in a flash.
A mortal shadow is breathing.
How many mournful relatives
are inviting us into their sad habitat?
Are you a book, offering comfort
to them?
Being like a book, getting leafed
from two sides, yearning towards the middle page, like hearing.
Just an instant, and reality
will meet with a dream.


On the Palm


How free I am –
like the disconnected sky,
and I don’t owe anything to anyone,
and I’m good for nothing.
I just obey my inhale blindly.
And this is all, all, all there is to it,
a living one needs no justification –
so convex is his face
and so pronounced his breathing.


This lengthy road
by the embankment leads somewhere.
It may happen, that all of a sudden
you will discover your life
on the edge of the city intellect,
amidst burdocks and agrimony.
Wow, discover your life.
Breathing-in the wet plums
of the navy-blue river
you’ll discover, despite common sense,
your life, dressed in a coat and a cap,
in someone’s efforts to get you a job.
In a fall afternoon, around four, you’ll
discover yourself on the palm of your hand.
It’s a long road in the world, that is
getting extinguished,
in the twilight, illuminated by the sun,
with a brick wall in the background.


Am I still alive,
is this air, close to my face?
Light surrounds me.
Who would see you,
and who’s chosen you
for the task of standing near a kiosk
during the sunny autumn?

There is no one who wouldn’t be
able to do without you, there is no one.
Pain is what gets better with time.
Is your being that lonely and truthful?


Translated from the Russian by Anna Halberstadt

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