ship of goblins

1
that red wasn't forever-red
they never taught us to tell colors apart –
those that were real from those that were not

the ship was sailing, the cargo launched,
goblins recited a sonnet by heart –
rowing their midnight oars

the ship sailed and sailed and grew,
goblins laughed behind closed doors
Ruskin heard them and clutched at his chest

and gold dust drifted away in the air
and you caught it in your open hand,
grasping for light in the Italian

2
the discus moon hobbled like luggage
on one edge as on stage, Lepage
and across – Gagarin and Leonov

Arshavin and Sychev kicking and dribbling
and light poured down invisible and blind
and light poured down biblical and neon
and a daeva divine rose above the crowd

trembling, Lepage rips off the plastic
the game has shifted from field to screen
and the nation explodes like in a dream
or like it was Mr. President's birthday

trembling, Lepage and Gagarin, crumbling
sliced through the planet without any knife
pummeling out that donut's jelly filling

we died like paper soldiers in the war
we were the first to overcome the moon
and crunched on ice, nothing less, nothing more

we shall feel no peace we shall feel no fear
we echo the laughs of goblins shoveling coal,
with pickle brine dilute our memories
of everything we don't know how to fix

and now the crowd falls into a reverie
and Lepage puts Tetralogy onstage
and Leonov takes a step in space

and Arshavin lets loose the ball
and it flies like a blind discus moon
the peony stadium blooms like a wound

3
the ship grows since the cargo never made it
and the goblins are counting their profits,
and the wine is sloshing in their bellies

like the Italian air of the quattrocento
like CMYK with added magenta
like my life longer than the Maginot

I'm sorry that my life has come to nothing
and you can't google the battleground
and where we're sailing is rubbed out on maps
and I forget already where's my home,

I know not good nor evil nor peace,
and lo I am driven through the world
only by lunar light and drunken goblin song

Translation from the Russian
By Valeria Tsygankova, Sarah Dowling, Stephanie
Sandler, Polina Barskova, and Ksenia Shcherbino

Ksenia Shcherbino's poetry and prose have been published in the journalsBabylon, Znamia, Novyi mir, Vozdukh, and other venues. She studied translation at the Moscow State Linguistic University and received her MA from the Institute of European Policy in Paris. She is currently completing an MA in Victorian studies at Westminster University, London. Shcherbino has translated several books on cultural studies and is also a visual artist who has had several solo exhibitions in Paris and Moscow.

Valeria Tsygankova is currently doing graduate work in the history of the book at the University of London. In 2011 she graduated with a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania, where she edited two undergraduate literary magazines and wrote an honors thesis on the publication history of the Bishops' Bible (1568). She is especially interested in contemporary poetry and poetics, twentieth-century Russian writers, translation, and book history. Sarah Dowling is the author of Security Posture (2009), which won the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. Her scholarly work, which has appeared in GLQ and Canadian Literature, concerns contemporary multilingual poetry. A doctoral candidate in the English Department at the University of Pennsylvania, Sarah is international editor of the online poetics journal Jacket2.Stephanie Sandler is Professor of Slavic languages and literatures at Harvard University. Her most recent critical monograph was Commemorating Pushkin: Russia's Myth of a National Poet (2004). She has edited several collections of essays, including Rereading Russian Poetry (1999). Sandler collaborated with Genya Turovskaya in translating The Russian Version: Selected Poems of Elena Fanailova (2009) and is currently working on a book about contemporary Russian poetry.Polina Barskova is Assistant Professor of Russian literature at Hampshire College. She published her first poems at the age of nine and has authored seven books of poetry in Russian and two in English translation to date. Her scholarly publications include articles on Nabokov, the Bakhtin brothers, early Soviet film, and historical trauma. She is currently working on a project entitled "Post-Petersburg Besieged: Aesthetics of Urban Rereading."

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