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Translations of three contemporary Russian expatriate poets

Alexandra Geller


As far as all us know, love and sin

Walked side by side in world from the beginning:

Serpent's temptation in the garden of Eden

Turned Eve and Adam into human beings.

Thank you, the cunning serpent, for your gifts:

Apple and passion, untold good and evil,

And has remained for many centuries

The might of sinful pain and gorgeous feelings

And we possess no shame, when love arrives,

Of pangs of love or of our own conception,

And may be justified it, for all times –

The earthly passion of enamoration.

Ella Odeyash

By the Sea

Like liquid glass, waters of sea,

Made of the tinted-bottle color,

Was pouring softly, heavily

The appelation of this: summer.

And ships, appearing like white dots,

Forming the distance with their presence.

They went somewhere to end of earth,

The appelation of this: heaven.


Like in childhood, I am walking barefot

With my feet feeling the trail.

For long time I did not walk like this.

For long time I was not this way.

Balmy breeze in my face is blowing.

I forgot how old I've become

And perhaps it's the joy of living

Wafting at me from the ground.

It's the day, it's the path, it's the summer…

Every blade of grass, dear to me…

And my bare-footed childhood

Smiling, is looking at me.


From the bluish distance blown,

Wind, arrives on a spring day.

Arms and elbows smell of orange,

Air is full of jasmin smell.

Not agreeing with my years

My soul sings and sings and sings:

And the leaves' rustle makes clear

Something tender's whisperings.


I live in condition

Of mood schizophrenia:

As if there's no distance

Between Russia and Israel.

I live in two mentalities

In two different spaces and times.

In two "hard" realities,

In noise of different tribes.

In news political

(From darkness where I can't see)

About both Russia and Israel

I say the word "We."

And I watch TV programs

Like fog that is full of blood:

All is woeful and horrible

Both here and there it's bad

Like in a monster fairy tale,

Like in a tale of horror –

The Arabian terrorism

And the Chechnya war

And I live in condition

Of split apart soul –

As if there is no distance

Between the two countries I know.


Again – a lightning bug, or maybe a cicada

Again – the moon and palms above my head…

And in my dream, blockade of Leningrad, and

The icy chill is blowing from the street.

Though life has not been smooth in any manner,

And flow of time has changed so much, I know,

WIthin my soul – I'm still a Leningrader,

And lightning bug looks like the Metronome.

Greg Kleper

My Wife is a Martial Artist


My wife is not an actor,

Not a pharmacist, not a doctor,

Not a linguist and not a harpist:

My wife is a martial artist

She gives me no vodka or Riesling:

For dinner – three grains of rice meal

Three raisins and then three olives

And on the holiday – orange.

My wife and I live in harmony

And go everywhere – she is right by me

If you do not like me – too bad

Come and greet my wife instead.

On weekends other have parties,

But me and my wife have a practice,

And I am woking a bag:

The one to punch, not to drag.

The kids have no worries at all:

With Mom they are climbing the wall

They practice with swords and with knives,

I have almost sleepless nights.

Me and my wife never quarrel

Right at hand she has a barbell

If you do not like me – too bad,

Come and greet my wife instead.

And in the bed she has tortured me:

She's short, but keeps jumping all over me,

Putting me in such positions

That I need to see a physician

And now she again succeeds:

She got me to do the splits.

I felt like I was torn in half,

But it's fine, I'm still alive.

My wife behaves quite meekly –

She almost does not beat me.

If you do not like me – too bad,

Come and greet my wife instead.

I will learn a bit more of all that

And I will get a black belt

And such forms to her I will show

That even she does not know

And then I will have no fear

Of my wife darling dear

And to every foe I may possess

I'll be able to say all this:

"Me and my wife live in harmony,

And go everywhere, she is right by me.

If you don't like my wife – too bad,

Come and greet me instead."

1 Comment »

  1. Thank you for those;especially the firt one. there have been so many negative things read into the story of Adam & Eve, but really we should thank Eve, not twit her story to condemn women.

    Comment by April — August 1, 2008 @ 4:27 pm

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