Riot Cop in Balaclava

Gather the last of your strength Take a deep breath And together shout the word as loud as you possibly can one last time If the decibel level gets high enough, the Kremlin will have no choice but to beautifully reveal itself as a house of cards and collapse into a thousand red bricks Gather them. They’re magical stones, and you need them for the next level Congratulations! You have arrived at the end of the national level and will receive a bonus credit in the form of one extra life While the next level’s loading, try to relax. Listen to the Internationale. OK, the next level’s loaded It’s a global level called WORLD REVOLUTION

Two poems by Roman Osminkin

Thomas Albdorf, I Know I Will See What I Have Seen Before, 2015. via.

The English-language collection of Osminkin’s work, Not A Word About Politics, will be out from Cicada Press on April 7.

Riot Cop In Balaclava
Write A Letter To Your Mama

riot cop in a balaclava
write a letter to your mama
tell her that you didn’t want to
but they made you
hit a woman
approximately her age
she chanted too loudly
free Khodorkovsky
you understand that’s not right
for a pensioner to defend an oligarch
he’s no son to her, let’s see if he spares a fucking ruble once he’s out
but that other one you struck quite sincerely
the one who held the a sign Putin is a criminal
i think you would’ve supported me on that
take it down, i tell her, Putin is our president and prime-minister
he’s raising Russia from her knees and bringing order
but she didn’t listen
mama, you know,
these boots and bulletproof vests they are so very heavy
and when they get soaked in the rain
your legs and body feel like ten-ton dumbbells and you have to chase
some boy with his fliers
stop you son of a bitch i tell him
and he yells down with fascism and would’ve even gotten away
if the guys hadn’t helped, they got him from the side
knocked him off his feet and taught him a little lesson
there’s a fucking hero for you
as if the country that defeated fascism
can’t figure it out without his help

mama mama
and i came here to study
to become an electrical engineer
i wanted to be like Popov whose museum you took me to
(remember, i could not believe that a small boy
invented such a complex radio but you told me
that in far-away Leningrad he studied for a long time
and it was only later that he succeeded
and there, in Leningrad, in a gigantic museum
stands his first radio)
to invent if not a radio of course well who am i to come up with a radio
but to become somebody as you said
and one day i’d come back
and bring you a gigantic bouquet of dahlias and i’d
hear the respectful whispers of our neighbors
see, Olga’s son isn’t an alcoholic like the rest.

i’ll also tell you, mom, about the dream i had recently
our entire unit went to heaven
everyone’s walking around in white kimonos and greeting each other ceremoniously
suddenly a short man approaches me
his kimono whiter than the whitest snow
his gaze sharp and clear like a mirror
his movements—calm as water
he bows down and suddenly throws me over his hip
and then gets me in a submission hold
like a white-tailed eagle plunging his talons into a golden fish
mommy, mommy how can i lift this weight
i see a forehead with veins bulging black,
i see eyes whose whites are turning red, no, crimson
i keep hitting the mat
the man laughs but doesn’t release me
he says remember ivan that up here as well as down there
they only respect the czar and the whip
i screamed from pain my leg had gone numb it turns out
i woke up the guys they say i’m crazy
they say ivan keeps dreaming of his innocent victims
don’t worry brother we have a raid soon
it helps clear the head of all that sentimental trash

mama, also
we are driving past two burning pillars
and i’m growing afraid
that i’m all alone here among these cold rocks
they stink like a swamp they’re so unstable
reeking with ice-cold anxiety
and the coming revolt
not even the fires of “Gazprom” can warm them

you’d say that ru-ussia nee-eeds me since i prote-ect her
from the mercantile jackals from all who refuse to understand
that it’s for their sakes that everyone is working
helping our motherland and nation from her knees
we’ve put the oligarchs in their place, we’re fighting
corruption and we’ve hogtied the west

mama at least you understand me, right
my business is to guard Russia from all threats
i am the punishing sword of the new russian order
i keep the dark times at bay
so that everyone gets to feel proud and unashamed
we looked straight into the eyes of the merkels and obamas . . .

. . . is this a reproach i sense in you
no, please don’t look at me like that
it’s so let me take off this balaclava…

(takes it off)

riot cop sans balaclava
early in the morning sitting in a transport vehicle
through your hangover & daze you look at
the dawn breaking and the glistening dew
and the peaks of Krasnoturiinsk glowing glowing in
the rays of the sun.

—Translated by Anastasiya Osipova


Revolution

Consider the aforementioned word

Really think about it

How did it appear on that screen/page/other surface (hereinafter, medium)?

Turn the medium 180 degrees

uoıʇnloʌǝɹ

Look at the word again

Stand on your head

(If in your current physical state this is impossible just turn the medium another 180 degrees)

Pronounce the word to yourself one syllable at a time

Repeat the word in a barely audible whisper

Pronounce the word aloud at the top of your voice

Glance to both sides

Smell the medium the word’s written on

Think what you could compare the smell to

Lick the medium the word’s written on

Think what you could compare the taste to

Pronounce the word again at your usual speaking volume

And again

And again

Take a look around you

If no one’s around pronounce the word at twice your usual speaking volume

Glance to both sides

If no one’s around shriek the word as loud as you possibly can

Draw it out

With a transition into a squeal on the last syllable,

oooooon becoming IIIIIIII

Let your body join the scream

Set your emotions free

At this stage you should be joined by others

At least one of your neighbors or coworkers

If no one’s around then open all the windows and scream out each of them in order

If that doesn’t work go outside

Draw it out as long as you possibly can

Shout the word out

Don’t be shy

Walk proud through the middle of traffic singing it

Someone will join you here

Coordinate your actions and sing in unison

Don’t stop

In time your song has to become a resounding chant

Just ignore the disgruntled motorists honking their horns and the cop who’s right behind you with a grip on your sleeve fixing to hit you with a billyclub

Give yourself completely over to what you’re doing – sing chant dance

Kick everything else out of your path

Now if you’re really following these instructions

At some point you’re going to have to set the controls for the Kremlin

Go there

Gather the last of your strength

Take a deep breath

And together shout the word as loud as you possibly can one last time

If the decibel level gets high enough, the Kremlin will have no choice but to beautifully reveal itself as a house of cards and collapse into a thousand red bricks

Gather them. They’re magical stones, and you need them for the next level

Congratulations! You have arrived at the end of the national level and will receive a bonus credit in the form of one extra life

While the next level’s loading, try to relax. Listen to the Internationale.

OK, the next level’s loaded

It’s a global level called

WORLD REVOLUTION

Consider the aforementioned word

Really think about it

—Translated by Ian Dreiblatt

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