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Conversations

Translated by Dmitry Manin

He’s like, listen, it’s hell here, fucking hell.
She’s like, are you kidding? He’s like, we shoot and shell
Everyone, mil or civ, regardless. She’s like, you don’t say!
He’s like, look, we dropped in this empty house today,
And I grabbed five grand greenbacks, and the house burned down.
She’s like, really, omigod, we’ll pay off the loan.
He’s like, we’ve shot three guys, led them into the woods.
She’s like, do you go hungry? Do you get enough food?
He’s like, ‘s okay. She’s like, down to skin and bones, are you?
You can rape Ukrainian girls, just don’t tell me when you do.

– One, this is Two, how’s it going, over. – Two, this is One,
All quiet, some kids passed the bridge. – What the fuck did they want?!
– Guess going to school, notebooks and stuff in their packs.
– Spared them for now? Cover the target when they go back.

He’s like, hi mom, listen, we shell them like fuck.
She’s like, right, turn everything there into trash and muck.
He’s like, you know, it’s all civilian targets and stuff.
She’s like, yeah, you’re down in a hot spot, it’s tough.
He’s like, they been whacking us four days in a row.
We were stuck with our mugs in the dirt, you know.
She’s like, many getting killed? – He’s like, yeah, a ton.
The commander’s dead, a leg’s left, the rest gone.
She’s like, did they tell you when you’re going back?
He’s like, we were five guys with one ration pack.
Broke into a home, roasted some meat and ate.
She’s like, how long haven’t you eaten? – Seven days or eight.

He’s like, the village is totally trashed, it’s nuts.
She’s like, they’ve always hated Russia’s guts.
He’s like, yeah, I emptied a magazine into this car, I did.
And Nick is already 200. She’s like: poor kid.
He’s like, got enough of it, tomorrow I’m gonna refuse.
She’s like, it’s a disgrace, you’ll just get jail time, what’s the use?
He’s like, Serge is wounded, he’ll get some dough at least.
Yesterday the commander took us to task, today the priest:
Bla-bla-bla Motherland, honor, heroes have no fear…
I asked the commander – he doesn’t know what we’re doing here.

There Will Be No Coffins

translation from Russian by Dmitry Manin

There will be no coffins. Our children will burn to ashes
In a mobile oven, and the smoke will swirl and waft
Over the fields of Ukraine where the black plume meshes
With the smoke of wildfire – up there, on the left.

Instead of the body, the doorbell will ring, a polite
Army captain will bring the ashes in a neat package
And place it silently on the bookshelf, right
By the photo of a brave soldier with demob patches,

Turned a contractnik. The captain will open his briefcase,
With a jerk of his head, as if something bothered
Him, he’ll fish out a paper, establish a base
On the stool, hold it out: sign here for non-disclosure.

She’ll sign. He’ll pick up his briefcase and hustle on
Past the TV with a crooning pop singer clown
And a bunk bed where on top the younger son,
A ninth-grade student leans over and stares down
At him as intensely as if waiting for a box of his own.

Татьяна Вольтская. Гробов не будет

Гробов не будет. Наших детей сожгут
В походной печке, а дым развеют
Над украинским полем, и чёрный жгут
Сольётся с дымом пожара – вон там, левее.

Вместо тела вежливый капитан,
Позвонив в квартиру, доставит пепел
В аккуратном пакете и молча положит там,
Под фотографией, где залихватский дембель

Перерос в контракт. Расстегнув портфель,
Вынет бумагу и, дёрнув шеей,
Будто что-то мешает, усядется, как на мель,
На табурет: подпишите неразглашенье.

Она подпишет. И он поспешит назад
Мимо телека с Басковым недопетым
И двухъярусной койкой, где младший брат,
Девятиклассник, с него не спускает взгляд,
Свесившись – будто ждет своего пакета.

Dmitri Manin is a physicist, programmer, and translator of poetry. His translations from English and French into Russian have appeared in several book collections. His latest work is a complete translation of Ted Hughes’ “Crow” (Jaromír Hladík Press, 2020) and Allen Ginsberg’s “The Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems” (Podpisnie Izdaniya, 2021). Dmitri’s Russian-to-English translations have been published in journals (Cardinal Points, Delos, The Café Review, Metamorphoses etc) and in Maria Stepanova’s “The Voice Over” (CUP, 2021). In 2017, his translation of a poem by Stepanova won the Compass Award competition. Дмитрий Манин — физик, программист и переводчик стихов. Его переводы с английского и французского на русский язык вошли в несколько книжных сборников. Его последние работы — полный перевод «Ворона» Теда Хьюза и «Вой, Кадиш и другие стихи» Аллена Гинзберга. Русско-английские переводы Дмитрия публиковались в различных литературных журналах. В 2017 году его перевод стихотворения Степановой стал победителем конкурса «Компас».

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