«Эти глаза напротив» 1992
Translated by Tanya Wolfson ©


Does anyone know what a splendid sight I am when I head for a late
Audience with a certain dame, all swagger and bombastic claims:
A dashing lover.
I face the dame, a handsome rake, as though I've ordered her to quake,
A sophisticated gentleman, a lion of the parliament,
Mortals, keel over!
Indeed it must be blood of kings surging through my veins as I bring
Our present discourse
To the theme of love and all its thrills,
                            lay down a wallet stuffed with bills
And wait for fireworks.
But the young thing, herself no more than her sum of parts: a once before
Worn necklace, an exotic face, a skimpy dress of silk and lace,
Dark hair's luster,
Needs only let one eyebrow rise, and the beaumonde will realize
That this is merely a stunt, that I am a flake, a debutant,
A cheap impostor.
One look from the eyes of cool basalt, and my parade's ground to a halt,
All splendor tarnished.
One lowering of delicate lids and I am wilted, on the skids,
In fact I've vanished.
The space just now occupied by one borne on the wings of pride,
A royal specimen, whose leers to the moans of nuptial fanfares
Were irresistible,
Somehow left in that space are dregs, a doppelganger with four legs,
An effigy, which will release if split apart dark slime, and grease,
And crawling viscera.
While the resplendent former I, is a shadow now, a muted cry,
The realm of losses;
Not super-classy, hyper-smooth, but grand-grotesque, ultra-uncouth
Still unaware of quite how deep the trouble runs I try to keep
Some sort of a grip. I sneer at guests: I am no worse than all the rest
(Just like them really).
I still try, like those kings of lore, to keep from rising to the fore
Some of the innermost black tide, except I have no more inside -
I am all spilling.
In fact it's high time to repair back to my cave, my cozy lair,
Where hemlock beckons.
To state the matter once again, it's time to perish, run, be gone
This very second!
Those who'd been through this will confirm: it almost kills one to be firm
And scrape together the strength to rise, but to escape that pair of eyes
Huge like the sundown,
With an impressive show of force I smile politely, like a corpse,
Then I get up, pick up my cash, and head out for a solo bash:
A night on the town.
    *   *   *
The night splits into dead end ways for me and shadow mine, which lays
No claims to royalty.
The two of us cross an empty square, without a living soul to dare
Disturb our solitude...