Two Russian Poems from Saint Petersburg and Tbilisi

Linor Goralik, The Assumption of the Deserters (2022), black, gold, and red cardboard, paper, black watercolor, red acrylic, colored pencils, pen / Courtesy of the artist /

“too late to scroll through news and facebook . . .”

too late to scroll through news and facebook too late to write on personal
and collective guilt

too late to read hannah arendt and carl schmitt both in love with schwarzwald
too late to become provost of the state of emergency

too late to stand on the troitsky bridge and gaze at the most beautiful city in the world too late to gaze at the ice of the most beautiful river in the world

too late to go out on the ice of the most beautiful river in the world and write fuck war on it too late to raise and lower bridges

too late to cry over bridges too late to build bridges too late to say too late to loved ones

too late to embrace them

too late to rename the troitsky bridge as the trotsky bridge too late to say
neither peace nor war

too late to say my grandma was born in poltava in 1909 too late to say
her name was trepke von trepke

too late to say we are pissing our pants

too late to remember valery podoroga in 2001 after getting the bely prize in that café on leteiny and him saying who have we elected not only elected but with these very hands helped gleb pavlovsky and his media outlets

too late to say blockade patriotic war lydia ginzburg

too late to say i warned you in 2003 caution religion caution

too late to say genocide wwi turn the bayonets against imperialism
as bakunin kropotkin taught and bruno schulz dreaming of maggots when he went down vinnytsia’s streets to drink with arkady

too late to say dehumanization

mobile crematoria

special operation

it remains to be said
reread antigone give us back our dead

i want to mourn them

this precedes the polis precedes its violence and the law the law-as-violence
this is sister this is brother becoming a bottomless grave and the promise of love

it’s still maybe not too late to stop the mobile crematoria
to bury our children

March 1, 2022

Translation from the Russian by Kevin M. F. Platt


“A concentration camp is built like a stadium or a Grand Hotel . . .”

A concentration camp is built like a stadium or a Grand Hotel.
You need geodetic surveys,
subcontractors, estimates,
competitive bids—and, no doubt, a bribe or two.
Any style will do, it’s all left
to the imagination: Swiss style,
garage style, Japanese style, a metamodernist
degree zero of cinegenic
degree zero, an intergalactic pod on the tip
of the corbusier, a Ground Zero of the Grand Style
for the strings of a state symphony orchestra
on tour through the uranium mines.

The architectural firm is called “Night and Fog,” Monsieur Klein.
“Night and Fog,” Monsieur Fritz von Klein.

March 21, 2022

Translation from the Russian by Ivan Sokolov

Born in 1975 in Soviet Ukraine, Linor Goralik is an artist, writer, and poet who lives in Israel and addresses Russian-speaking audiences across the world. In 2022 she began to produce a series called A Few Icons about the War, including these works after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Alexander Skidan is a poet, critic, essayist, and translator. He is the author of more than ten books, including, in English, Red Shifting and the pamphlet Golem Soveticus: Prigov as Brecht and Warhol in One Persona. He has been recognized with the Andrei Bely Prize and a Joseph Brodsky Fellowship. Skidan is a member of the working group “What is to be done?” and editor of the “Practice” section of New Literary Review. He lives and works in Saint Petersburg and Tbilisi, Georgia.

Kevin M. F. Platt is a professor of Russian and East European studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He works on Russian poetry, history, and memory in Russia and eastern Europe, global russophone culture, and translates poetry from Russian and Latvian. His new book, Border Conditions: Russian-Speaking Latvians between World Orders, is forthcoming in 2023.

Ivan Sokolov is a poet, translator, and critic from St. Petersburg and a PhD Candidate at UC Berkeley. The author of five books of poetry, he has translated G. M. Hopkins, Gertrude Stein, Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, and other writers into Russian, and the poetry of Natalia Azarova into English. He serves as a contributing editor at GRIOZA, where in 2020 he curated an international festschrift for the centenary of Paul Celan’s birth.