Thursday, September 16, 2004

News from Russia

A poem by the Finnish poet Jarkko Laine, from his collection Paradise (Paratiisi, 1979)

News from Russia

News from Russia,
someone wants to exchange
their Pushkin for science fiction,
a moving gesture:
the lost paradise at both ends of the road,
the nigger on the chocolate bar wrapper,
the three-eyed Martian,
and not many people want to live today,
the laundrette’s display window,

news from Russia,
Lenin arrives at the station with German money in his briefcase,
everything must be changed so that there is nothing
except the name of the state,
the people’s state.
That Germany does not exist any more nor does that Lenin
who was shot so he would die, would never live again.

there is only politics,
another war scattered like manure on a field,
so that everything may flower, like art.
the child of war,

news from Russia,
the Russians don’t want war,
the Russians want to win,
they talk about peace, hard currency that does not exist,
the marks of Utopia, they are good for paying debts with,
they talk a lot, for a long time,

news from Russia,
the older the guidebook,
the easier it is to trust it,
the red star is not Baedeker’s,
that is the difference between the old one and the new one,

news from Russia,
Everyone wishes Mother Russia ill,
the American warmongers, the German warmongers, the Chinese warmongers,
the Finnish fascists, they all wish her ill,
have made a conspiracy to separate the lands of Russia from one another,
are going about in the border states speaking ill about Russia,
organizing non-Russian communism,
so low are they ready to go,
they would even buy Georgia with Stalin, that is their morality,
the new Varangians, peeping behind Moscow’s veil,

news from Russia,
it’s not a place at all,
it screams across the whole of Ivan’s square
as crazy as Vasily the Blessed was crazy,
speaking the truth is not enough for it,
it wants to be the truth itself,
distant and frothy like the Arctic Sea;
hanging gardens, a wonder of the world,
when its bells ring,
the corpses left on the gallows ring

news from Russia,
the chill-voiced woman on the radio in the middle of the night,
on every station,
in the pub the Finnish communist
talking in October about October,

news from Russia,
the past is irrevocable,
you go there if you go, as a ghost,
talking about it, sitting as if by nature,
sitting as a hostage to yourself until you are the past,
gone are those for whom a train was a samovar drawn by a team of horses,
gone are the corpses of the Streltsy, the Moscow Kremlin’s outermost fortification.
No longer do the ravens cover the gilt of the cupolas with their excrement,
no peacock is needed when there’s
a healthy cockerel in the back yard,
for five years that cockerel will crow, then they’ll bring a new cockerel;
and the snow will whirl: in Russia the snow will whirl,
we will watch it as on our television screens, we will wait for
news from Russia.

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