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Inauguration into their ranks
Came in the shape of a good face-to-face
with the toilet.
Ninety days in a row.

Mother, mother, mother.
Like you, there is no other.
You are the bread winners
And bread bakers.
The diaper changers
And soccer-practice takers.
You are the lunch-bag senders,
The love never-enders,
Behind-the-scenes directors,
Always welcome-and-never rejectors.
Most faithful wife and mother –
Like you there is no other.

After a dehumanizing visit to the OBGYN
The doctor wiped her hands
And heading for the door, as if in afterthought, said:
“Well, looks like you’re having a baby!
…Any questions?”
Well yeah….I did have *a couple*…

Mother, mother, mother
I don’t know why you even bother.
You were the fire-keepers
And story-tellers.
Today, you’re professors, doctors,
Real-estate sellers.
But you remain the sacrificers
And dream trappers,
Devoted bandage wrappers,
Hidden talent tappers,
The peaceful fighters,
Profound emotion divers,
The all-odds overcomers,
The survivors, the survivors.
Among your ranks I stand, so unprepared.
Wondering, like any other,
If one day I may also earn the title:

Wiping the last sweat off my brow
After the birth, I’m feeling older
I glance up lovingly into the eyes
Of my committed spouse – hand holder
And whisper, “Honey, if ‘ere again you feel that yearn
Remember, dearest, next time – it’s your turn!”

Poem by Vladimir Strochkov

(Translation: Anya Ezhevskaya)

I say that I’m tired, I’m tired, can’t do it, can’t
I’m tired, I tell him, let go me, let go
He doesn’t let go, won’t listen, again in his palm
He lifts me, he laughs, but you haven’t yet flown.
He says, as he laughs and he lifts me up over his head
Opens his fingers, tosses me into the sky
Fly! He says, I’m flying, I say, spitting grass
Let me go now, you saw – I was flying, I know how to fly.
I am tired, I say, let me go, but he just goes on
Picks me up again, tosses over his head
He laughs, you just fly to the bushes, he says.
And throws me, I’m tired, but he can’t understand
But I’m tired, I’m flapping as hard as I can
Tear up my face, but I reach the branch closest to me
okay, fine, but just this last time, I say, and he –
You’re crazy, you flew just there, I know, I say, let it be.
So how ’bout one more time? No, he says, that’s enough
I’m tired, get lost, he laughs, you’re annoying me too
But just once, I say, can’t, he says, go fly yourself
Well screw you oh Lord, my goodness, I’m tired of you.
And I laugh, he stares at me, I can’t help it, – it’s fun
Alright, he says, let’s do it – running start, and I run.

Original text:

Я говорю, устал, устал, отпусти,
не могу, говорю, устал, отпусти, устал,
не отпускает, не слушает, снова сжал в горсти,
поднимает, смеется, да ты еще не летал,
говорит, смеется, снова над головой
разжимает пальцы, подкидывает, лети,
так я же, вроде, лечу, говорю, плюясь травой,
я же, вроде, летел, говорю, летел, отпусти,
устал, говорю, отпусти, я устал, а он опять
поднимает над головой, а я устал,
подкидывает, я устал, а он понять
не может, смеется, лети, говорит, к кустам,
а я устал, машу из последних сил,
ободрал всю морду, уцепился за крайний куст,
ладно, говорю, но в последний раз, а он говорит, псих,
ты же летал сейчас, ладно, говорю, пусть,
давай еще разок, нет, говорит, прости,
я устал, отпусти, смеется, не могу, ты меня достал,
разок, говорю, не могу, говорит, теперь сам лети,
ну и черт с тобой, говорю, Господи, как я с тобой устал,
и смеюсь, он глядит на меня, а я смеюсь, не могу,
ладно, говорит, давай, с разбега, и я бегу.

The office work runs slow and unexciting
The minutes morph to hour after noon
I haven’t had a hit since early morning
My stomach churns – I must have something soon.

The cravings crawl up through my spine
I tell myself I’m doing fine
My fingers twitch and typos fill the screen.
The symptoms there – I know them all
It’s clear I’m going through withdrawl
I tear the bag, and shamelessly dig in.

Addictive habits are with hazards fraught
In trouble you are only if you’re caught.

At home the shrills of progeny engulf me
The dinner’s cooked, the meal drags on and on
I’m eating one thing, yearning for another
That dark and undiluted richness on my tongue.

I stumble right through Seasame Street
And rush through Bluebeard’s great defeat
My kids suspect me, I edge towards the door.
As I’m my bathroom stash consuming
My son yells, “Mom, what are you doing?”
“I thought that, um, I just might wash the floor…”

Addictive habits are with hazards fraught
In trouble you are only if you’re caught.

At night we sit and watch a film together
I wonder if he’s noticed something strange
I should just quit, and part with it forever
Addictive habits are so hard to change.

He starts to nod, I steal away
Just one last bite, it’s been a day
The peanuts crunch, I wonder if he knows.
I finish up, the bag is trash
Back to the room I stealthily dash
He grins, “You’ve got some chocolate on your nose.”

Addictive habits are with hazards fraught
In trouble you are only if you’re caught.


Что, если все-таки переиначить?
Что, если якорь поднять?
Взять курс на южный, тропический остров
И новую жизнь там начать?

Вот парус надулся под ветром попутным
И шхуна стремится вперед.
А там впереди уже пальмы под солнцем
И кто-то вдоль пляжа бредет.

Виднеется там перломутровый замок
И тают в заре гамаки.
Качаясь так мирно среди эвкалиптов
И зелени липкой мазки

Укутывают одинокую деву
Которая к морю идет
Темнеет и небо, и зелень, и тени
Крадуться, а шхуна плывет.

Я вижу как сблизились обе фигуры
И стало уж очень темно
Вот гром разкатился, и молния дико
Сверкнула, встрехнув полотно…

Что, если ярости ей не хватило
Разбить мой корабль по полам
Увидив её только глаз я прикрыла
На пляж посмотрела, а там

Седит на песке старичек, и корыто
Лежит рядом с ним, на боку
А возле сежу я, и тоже — разбита
И переиначить уже не могу.

Tired Love

Squinted eyes before the morrow
Wanders silently
Sighs wet leaves of sorrow

In the morning gray and sullen
Mists creep through the cracks
Lover, child, unshaven, hollow
Come, behind I follow.

Modling my affections waver
Under your caress
Overflowing carcass of emotion
Onto me impress.

Linger, tingle and remain
Much too long
Temptation varnish.
Sticks upon your hands of sand

Lately we have ceased desire
Half-turned shoulder;
In the corner sitting wired,
So tired.

The first poem is a feeble attempt at writing poetry in Russian, written several weeks ago. The second poem was written almost a decade ago. The two seem to somehow resonate together…Photographs mine.

San Diego

From the deserts they come
Tumbleweed creations
Vagabond crustaceans
Completing their westward migrations
At the SoCal
Soaking in the sun-bleached
Beached La Jollan shore.

People of lost for generations
These nomadic crustaceans
Oscillate between teen-age hood
And corporate America
Between potted weeds and
Seedy needs of midlife encampment
Lulled to sleep by the enchantment
of seagull cries
sunny San Diego skies
Blue like salt between the eyes.

Roots in thirsty soil
Connections formed as deep
As the sand digs, before it hits water.
As permanent, as car dust lives
In the desert, from where they come.

Image credit:

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