ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sergej Timofejev was born in 1970. He is a Latvian poet, visual artist, journalist, DJ, musician, member of the cultural group Orbita, a creative collective of Russian poets and artists, and co-organizer of the festival of poetic video World in Motion in Riga. Since the late 1980s, he has published in the journals Rodnik, Mitin zhurnal, Vavilon, Znamia, and others. A pioneer of video poetry in Russian, his first video poem, “Orchestra Rehearsal” (1995), may be seen on YouTube. Timofejev is the author of six books of poetry, three of which were published in Latvia and three in Russia. He was short-listed for the Andrei Belyi prize in 2002. His poetry has been translated into several languages
A man comes in, his suit is crumpled
And there are thin-rimmed glasses on his face.
He’s arguing with the emptiness, he’s crazy, he’s a wind.
The thin-rimmed glasses quiver.
His suit is crumpled, he argues quickly.
The man comes in and fills the room.
The man comes in, he’s been coming in for hours.
His suit is crumpled. He argues too quickly.
His glasses quiver, he’s an idiot, he argues.
He’s a wind, he’s crazy, he’s coming in.
Translated by Irina Osadchaja & Lyn Hejiinian
Resistance with Mickey Mouse
I got myself a gun
and fought back from the ninth floor
where Mickey Mouse is under my protection.
It’s been nine rising moons
since we became friends.
Every morning he brings me cartridges
we drink cocoa
there is still just a little left in the big can
that you bought at the flea market
when you put it on the floor you spilled a little.
Where are you wandering
in the cold strident wind of crimes?
Mickey Mouse is reading Robinson Crusoe
sitting on the couch
surrounded by pillows
his big ears –
like resistant radars.
not to ask to be forgiven,
in the kitchen while looking
into mirrors we swore,
Mickey Mouse said:
This will be a jolly day!
Pay your beeper
your cell phone
bang-bang we shoot through newspapers
but it is not really their fault and Mickey
Mouse in a Mao T-shirt yells into the megaphone:
Where did you go
come back soon
this will be a jolly day –
plenty of backed potatoes and
lousy movies about
the fact that everything passed by like
a division of internal troops.
But she’s not coming
they give her presents
earrings with diamonds
a new watch with a medieval dial.
Every night somewhere in America
at the Japanese restaurant they
have dinner at a table
surrounded by faithful dogs
and a lilac page who faultlessly
constantly strives to do his very best.
But Mickey and I load the cartridges again
we created a transatlantic bulwark
in conditions of chaos and misunderstanding
we are not afraid of Baal
we are on familiar terms with cocoa
territory of kindness.
Yesterday the Spanish ambassador came on a visit
he kept playing his violin for hours
we lit a candelabra
but it was still too dark for him –
last morning the electricity was shot down.
A peace envoy was sent here today
some super model
that I intoduced to Mickey
they approved of each other
I granted them the bathroom
love must be moisture and in the shade
between Turkish towels
Her name is Candy
the queen of scholarships.
Little by little the desert took shape
I was dreaming about somebody anybody
there will always be a home
to look at
but it was so nice here – without.
And suddenly we got up and walked
through a flat pink space
but you in America
had lobsters for dinner and felt sorry for
I’ll sell my gun
no I’ll melt it on the stove
I let the drops of metal drip
I will give Mickey Mouse back
to Walt Disney & Co
(I can imagine his despair).
There is nothing left in the cocoa can
may be you will come back in September
the prepared lobsters? on the plate
– finally got us.
Translated by Ieva Auzina & Håkan Bravinger
Hello. We’re thieves from a small town hotel.
We’re waiting for someone to get wasted,
Or maybe we’ll slip ’em a Mickey.
Then we’ll rummage through pockets,
Take the watch and wallet.
We just like money a lot.
And everyone has their life goals.
I want a big house with enormous posters
Of Metallica on the walls. He wants a Hummer,
In order to cruise down main street,
Lowering the windows now and then
To yell, “Fuck you and this whole town!”
However, our volume is pretty lousy.
Who ever comes out here? Just love birds
And sales reps for Swedish makeup.
We clean their pockets with zero regret.
But can you live on that kind of money?
We live simply; rent a guest house;
Recently bought a Toshiba entertainment system;
But there isn’t enough for a car.
And in the evenings, along snowy streets,
Beneath infrequent streetlamps there move
Two bundled up figures. That’s us on the way to work
In the hotel bar. The owner gets a cut.
And also, by agreement with him, we do a neat job.
We don’t smash in faces or break ribs. And we deposit
The unconscious on porches, not in the snow.
Basically, we’re getting ready to move to the capital.
We know some people and, anyway, sometimes you want to live large,
You know. Otherwise, at times, we’re left slipping eachother
Mickeys and robbing eachother, just to stay in practice.
Then the “victim” wakes up with a hellish headache,
And the “robber” is ready with a cold compress and strong
Tea. In general, we’re getting by. Of course,
We cannot reveal the name of the hotel or of the town itself.
Quite possibly, we won’t stay long.
Just don’t say it’ll be forever.
I want to share simple truths with you;
Reveal to you important things.
Always open doors, step into elevators,
Go upstairs, move down corridors.
Always get into cars, start the engine,
And if it’s winter, wait until it warms up.
Always spend money, but sparingly,
And only occasionally spend everything you’ve got.
In summer will be summer; fall will come in fall,
Don’t get flustered; don’t do anything that disgusts you.
Girls will become young women, and then you’ll notice
Them crossing the street holding little kids by the hand.
Men will glumly weigh the options
Then act according to circumstances, making mistakes often.
Governments are made in order to fall;
Ships — in order to glide beneath bridges.
Nevertheless the lights on the other side of the river
Will never — just imagine — never go out.
But if they are extinguished all the same, pack your bag;
Take only the essentials and leave the city as fast as possible.
You’ll arrive in a new place, look around, lean up against a tree;
You can light up, if you smoke, stand, think.
You see, here too they drink evening tea and morning coffee,
Curse the mayor and hope things will change for the better.
And if there is a river and you see lights on the other shore,
It means there’s something to cling to.
Man with Woman
Romance! Sheer Romance! They rushed aboard a steamboat;
But the steamboat sounded the horn and became a train; they grab
The emergency brake, but it’s a champagne cork; foam
On hands, as if they’re swimming underwater, and then up comes
The head captain who says: “I’ve studied greying cliffs
Of fractured high-rises…” Must have swallowed a gramophone
And now he mutters and mumbles. But they weren’t there long.
They rushed to kiss, rush and kiss; astounding eyes
They have. Romance! Sheer Romance! They run into a huge city;
Building stands above gully, radio blares in gully,
And on the radio they’re saying: “We’ve closed all communications,
Tarred over all thoroughfares and released into the sewers
Rivers of gold!” Gee whiz! So they threw 500 matches in the gully
And ran on. Birds flying at them in low trajectory
Grape vines weave a symbol around them; the world’s deep basso
Sings and moos. The earth moves luxuriously; wind licks at them,
Like a Londontown kitten. Yes, then they found a tinderbox,
And a vast treasure trove big as a nut, and spread their
Chestnut tree bed, and went to sleep, exhausted from love,
Man with woman, Riga boy and Moscow girl.
Translated by Kevin M. F. Platt
READ ALSO interview with S. Tomofejev – http://wp.me/p2E1km-15 and http://wp.me/p2E1km-1j
Poetry in Russian http://www.orbita.lv/authors/26