Libya is Serbia

Volunteer

It’s just I didn’t have very much doing
it’s just they weren’t paying my salary
it’s just I really wanted adventure
it’s just the homeland was in danger.
I left behind my wife and my daughter:
this I remember clearly.
We walked through hills and forests.
It was like the summer camp I attended yearly.

Sometimes we shot at our own men.
(You sometimes shot your own men.)
Sometimes we called for peace.
We had a gray-brown-and-white ribbon.
In the black-white-and-brown silence
in the dark-brown-and-brownish silence
I put a swastika on my lapel.
People in black destroyed my body

they ripped the swastika off me
there’s a hole in the spot where my heart was
a piece of shrapnel tore through me.
It must have been the Chechens who did it to me.

 


Libya is Serbia

Down with false peacemaking
say the backseat political analysts
“yes yes,” says a man who’s lost his hearing from the shelling

look, it’s your daughter, she’s in Syria now
she’s sick. But it’ll be ok.
And we’ll seek vengeance.
Because Libya is Serbia.

And you yourself are sick
and you’re not going to get better, my friend,
because progress is inexorable
that is, no matter how much you try to exorcise it
it won’t reach you anyway.

Because you’re pining for the past, my friend,
pining for the past
you’re pining for the past
which is free only in a mouse trap

You should look around instead
at the sea, the wind, the wheat
look at the stars,
the girls, all the beauty,

Look at me, your television host,
and understand once and for all that peace is impossible.


Facebook 

It’s only on Facebook that everything is great for me
good photos from beautiful places
interesting thoughts, journeys, respect from my many friends,
any American college would take me
but in real life everything’s different:
just an unstructured waste
the same coffee shops
my parents always bugging me
I couldn’t afford my own place
my intellectual labor isn’t protected
intellectual property isn’t protected
the men I know are boys, ugly but aggressive
I know some nice ones, but I’m still almost always unsatisfied
and somehow I feel like it’s my fault
and to hell with it, but here as with everything
you feel you have to confront the endless resistance of shit
the endless resistance of shit.
That’s how it is offline. But you wouldn’t know it from my Facebook.
I’ve always been able to talk about things like this without shame
but it’s bad to be whining all the time.
Russia, Russia, my homeland is sick.
I want to sign up for the heavenly host.1

  1. A reference in part to the “heavenly hundred,” the men and women who died on Maidan during the anti-government protests in Kyiv early in 2014. 

—Translated from the Russian by Keith Gessen

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