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translated from the Russian by Jonathan Brooks Platt



Time buttoned all the way up
With a fat tie tightly knotted
Slowly falling out of the gates of state institutions,
Shuffling in puke-colored boots,
Strangling workers’ families, spinning its yarns
To fortune-tellers and osteopaths, asking dead doctors—
my back hurts, what should I rub it with?
Why, why, it’s saying, turning the pages of an empty diary,
Sewn up tight in living skin, why don’t they like me, why don’t
these creatures support me?

It cuts out the tongues of gloomy poets,
Already on uppers, antidepressants, and good food
for some time now, cheerily spitting at the émigrés as they go,
Putting a fire under the activists’ asses.
While workers’ families flow along roads and rivers, embracing their children;
a migrant in a smoke-filled construction trailer
cooks up the evening’s cup noodles and texts his wife and mother…

We danced joyously in the desert without tongues,
We knew: the great day is still to come.

Animal dreams see people. Racists kiss the veterans
at the Victory Day parade, and they cum into their caps (what word unprinted is he writing, what?)
“He has these fat fingers, like sausages, but he plays the accordion so fast,”
my father said once at dinner,
just back from the factory.
He was talking about one of the foremen, it was 1996.
Now this iron accordion blows its bellows from our innards,
Its music hits you all the way to your bones,
leaving no room or time for tears. We are drawn inside this music, twisted up in racing sleep.
Fast learner, war is coming up
to the walls of frozen buildings – who’s that in there with you?
Nobody. When we were kids they’d hide us in the factory pipes,
in copper cables, under the desks in school, so we’d be quiet.

In my head the Irtysh River is roaring and stretching long,
the fiery banks are crashing down,
the Taiga is beating a bearskin drum, and the beast tears a red flag with its teeth.

We have our own special history, our own rules of struggle,
where comrades open their veins because they just need to stop.
Young, rotten-toothed Russia hovers with her dry cunt over the jailhouse shitter in thought—
Our time is bubbling there, history is being made.

Time opens the doors of minibuses, the gates of the earth,
to release the burning miners,
the sharp stones, the lusty oil.
There’s a little oilman now in every bed instead of lubricant,
Dropping his black mouth on my pillow,
Scuttling between cunt and cock,
We think we’re loving one another, but it’s him spurring on our passion.

In the corridors of state institutions time flows confidently.
The living Stalin has no trouble with it at all –
Sewing fur hats for the tourists, and for the Russians
putting together newspapers and websites,
Into our dead cavity – language pours out its vat of spit.

Poets are still dancing without tongues, father,
They want to offer up the remains of their body to the new struggle before it’s too late.

We eat blockade meat in the winter city each instant with our only son.
Irtysh is in my head and the gates open along the banks,
Along the banks a new race moves, firing up the oil tower lights.
The conveyor belt boils up new boots – black and puke-colored
in my blood vessels for the new times,
I’m no longer here, and there are no feet for these boots, and a bone
Has hammered our spirit to the earth.

In a fur hat slipping down over his eyes and a bulletproof vest
With his cock sticking out, ripping forth like an arrow into a better life
In the dark of the construction site flies my angel of history, my dear comrade.
His voice unprinted glows in this letter.

And so my hand under his sign in night matter
unconsciously comes to its own conclusion:




Galina Rymbu was born in 1990 in the city of Omsk (Siberia, Russia) and currently lives in St. Petersburg. She has published poems in the Russian journals The New Literary Observer, Air, Sho, and in the Translit series. Her first book, Moving Space of the Revolution, was published in 2014. Her poetry has also appeared in English translation in The White Review, Music & Literature, Asymptote, and Cosmonauts Avenue. She has published numerous essays on cinema, literature, and sexuality in Séance, Colta, and Milk and Honey (she was also the editor-in-chief of the latter). She curated “New Poetry in the Literary Institute,” an alternative education project (2012-2013), the All-Russian Week of Youth Poetry in Moscow (2013), the Arkady Dragomoshchenko Prize, and the exhibition “House of Voices: At the Margins of Language,” which addresses the death of small languages in Russia. Her chapbook, White Bread, is available from After Hours, Ltd.


Jonathan Brooks Platt is Assistant Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Pittsburgh. He specializes in Russian and Soviet literature, art, and culture. Recent publications include “Snow White and the Enchanted Palace: A Reading of Lenin’s Architectural Cult” (Representations, 2015), “Soviet Sculpture in the Expanded FIeld” (Chto Delat newspaper, 2014), “Zoya Kosmodemianskaya between Sacrifice and Extermination” (NLO, 2013), and “The Poetics of Dry Transgression in Pushkin’s Necroerotic Verse” (Taboo Pushkin, Wisconsin UP, 2012). His monograph Greetings, Pushkin!: Stalinist Cultural Politics and the Russian National Bard is forthcoming through Pittsburgh University Press. He has translated the poetry of Kirill Medvedev, Roman Osminkin, Galina Rymbu, Pavel Arsenev, and Elena Kostyleva; artisic texts by Chto Delat, Natalia Pershina (Gluklya), Nikolay Oleynikov, and Anastasia Vepreva; and philosophical texts by Oxana Timofeeva, Aleksandr Pogrebnyak, and Andrey Platonov (with Robert Chandler).