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Translated Poems

The Two-Headed Man and the Paper Life 

There was once a two-headed man. He sat at an office desk and wrote down somebody's fate. Employees went to and fro carrying folders full of everyday-ness. Peeping in, a little girl shuddered with convulsions, and shrieked, 'What's this HORRIBLE THING doing here?' 
      The girl was taken away and treated for hallucinations; guards were stationed at the doors.
      This tale is told merely for the edification of those who enjoy peeping through the key-holes of their paper lives.

The Centre of the Universe 

The red comb of that pheasant is the centre of the universe. The pheasant moves and sometimes even flies, and the centre of the universe shifts about with him. Why this particular pheasant, you ask, and why his comb? But the One Who Knows The Answers has already shrugged his shoulders, the movement causing his grey comb to shake at the same time. 

Be Careful with Kites 

When flying a kite in the long-suffering heavens, you never know what you may catch. If it's a dead bird or a piece of aircraft metal, no problem. But supposing a snag gets caught, or, God forbid, the moon? Our daring kite-flier will then find himself in direct and prolonged connection with the skies. 
      And it isn't so far the case that, should he finally decide to release the kite, it won't give chase to him. 


James Bond retired and settled in the Soviet Union – for whose break-up he was responsible. His pension was delivered to him by pigeon-post from Yorkshire. On Tuesdays, the former 007 attended party members' meetings, and made recordings with a tape-recorder embedded in a cigarette. The meetings ended with the singing of theInternationale but James Bond, on principle, murmured through his grey moustaches, 'God Save the Queen'. 'Here's our comrade from the developing republics singing out of tune,' said the nimble old men, in their Pioneer ties, patting Bond lovingly on his cast-iron shoulders. 


At first, the Montagues and Capulets were friends. But then there arose a disagreement concerning the style of their hats. When aesthetics are involved, mountains of dead bodies will follow without fail. 

Friendship till Death 

It's difficult to be on friendly terms with your friends. All could be well, were it not for their nice habit of working with scissors.
      'More tea?' my friend asks kindly, trimming my left ear. 'Some vodka perhaps?' the other friend adds, simultaneously cutting off my surplus chin.
      Crawling away, completely bandaged, I take to my bed at an unknown enemy's place, and when people approach me I make a hideous animal face, so as not to tempt them to sudden friendship.

The Alarm-Clock Bomb 

The alarm-clock bomb rings up like an uninvited guest and offers you an experience of ravaged Nirvana. There's nothing you can do except sing it the pointless song, 'May there always be me.' Sometimes the alarm-clock looms up first, quietly ticking in the doorway. It's better that you hear it.

Translated from the Russian by Carol Rumens

(First published in Blind Spots by Carol Rumens, Seren, 2008; Friendship till Death first published in ''The Liberal'', April/May 2007, England)

© Anatoly Kudryavitsky, 2003; © Carol Rumens, 2008 - translations | All rights reserved | contact: akudryavitsky[at]hotmail.com