Poetry Archives Bio

The Foot of Fate

August 14, 2020

This is my translation of «Нога судьбы» by Борис Гребенщиков [Boris Grebenshchikov].

To Max Nemtsov,
Gregory Khmelnitsky,
and Sophie Grace Shields


Bykolai Optoed of youth knew little to none.
Bykolai Optoed was for heists on the run.
But in the first month he came,
With a lift shaved his face;
He on turquoise would suck, chew chunks of amber with grace;
Oceans sang like the mares staring stallions right into their manes.
He burnt corporate Lukoil and its slick filling station—
For no reason, at all.
Out of respect for the flames.

Ekaterina-s-Peskov we had considered a star,
Until a visiting mordvin gnawed through wires to guitars...
She even laughed at the fact that in love he was not;
She would eat for her breakfast men of his lot;
All the generals' daughters, they "you can't" still can't quite understand.
And as for everyone else, then to them she would utter—
Who needs foes like these fucks,
When we have friends just like these in the end?

Acid jazz is a triumph; rock 'n' roll is a stiff.
And the DJ has clenched in his teeth a cold riff.
"Banzai!" then shouted the waiters, then fell with their troughs;
To him she whispered, "My darling!"
He had whispered, "Crawl off!"
That they'd never get far it was amply clear as the day.
Eight whole days in a tractor rolling through snowy steppes...
Beauty never has easily given a way.

At Tobolsk there's a reach where the pollock can nest;
To Ceylon and Cathay hunting trails are there pressed—
When the fish fly and jump in open mouths with their might,
Well, in these other words, it's feng shui but not quite,
She there holds female business;
He there dances, smokes shrooms until late.
All the elders, they say of them, "Om mani padme hum,"
That in translation often denotes—
The foot of fate.