why did I keep yelling I’m an electrician

I’m no electrician

what came over me

I gestured at outlets
cozied up to the circuit box, held the meter close

no one is buying it

here’s my license, look, my certificate
wires sticking out of all my pockets

they just look at me in silence

give me five minutes and I’ll close any circuit
I’ll get soldering you won’t be able to stop me

what kind of people are you

they shake their heads doubtfully
we can’t use you, they say

we need an electrician

Translation from the Russian
By Kevin M. F. Platt, Julia Bloch, and Karina Sotnik


Semyon Khanin was born in Riga, Latvia, in 1970. He is the author of two collections of poetry in Russian, Tol’ko chto (2003; Just now) and Opushchennye podrobnosti(2008; Missed details). His poetry has been translated into Latvian, English, Czech, German, Italian, Swedish, Estonian, and Ukranian. He is a participant in the literary project Orbita and editor of the almanac by the same name.

Publishead @ World Literature Today



there they go crawling over goosebumps
not the shed hairs after the cut
caught under cold crew cut by the scruff
time for your, unsaid, massage, honey
scratchy throat, bristles, chills
warm it up, please, unsaid, not too hot
watches furtively
dig it eyed that way only metal tasting of
your lips
only stone


Translated by Charles Bernstein, Matvei Yankelevich, with EO (https://jacket2.org/commentary/your-language%E2%80%94my-ear/#Khanin)

еще какие-то поползут по мурашкамне не обрезки волос после стрижки
под холодным ежиком собравшиеся за
займемся – молчит – массажиком
в горле першит простуженный ершик
разогрейте пожалуйста – молчит – но не
и глядит исподлобья
от удовольствия так следят за тобой
только металл с привкусом твоих губ
только камень