Take immortality, God, but give
me this cold apple cellar. Take the souls
and other toys, but let us live: not-Adam and not-Eve not your son’s—
my son’s life.
Wet hole in a cellar
with wooden floor—is a Promised Land.
But no, we need cement floors
and the smell of cats and mattresses and a bunch
of soiled blankets. The city breathes though they poke us with missiles’ needlework.
Watch: a mad tailor makes of a city a headless costume without
hands. This is your human being, God, and not
a retail display mannequin.

The future is a door of mud
glass, the color of raw diamond.

This door opens inside
my chest every moment.
Each breath in
is a breath out,
sometimes faster
sometimes not at all.

In a time of war
the future jumps out
like a frog, no, a grasshopper—
one second—
and there is nothing: no future—

just emptiness, pulsating.

In peacetime: the epoch licks us off
in measured strokes
but now—
now the mad teeth of a Kremlin gremlin
chew on us.

And our land is decorated with bloodied fragments
of cement walls.
I see a soldier’s hat
diving in snow after my neighbor Miss Valya.
The murderers are lit
from inside by the saliva
of their sick ideas.

I see them twelve miles off.

As the thoughts jump like pebbles
on thick ice,
the breath turns into a white seaweed.

We are holding hands
while night hungry like an animal sniffs at balconies,
eyes whiten: is
anyone here alive?
The walls of this town are tossed out of the ground with their roots,

the staircases are torn up like unfinished
poems.

The body on the asphalt is a black-red sleeping bag—
is that a person? I don’t know.
Is that a person?
The evening jumps.

We have no place on this earth, you and I, God,
but you can’t drown in the sea of blood, sea
free of people. Watch:
these centipedes of tanks crawling on
their mechanical knees

won’t swallow this street, that street, this street.

Translated by Katie Farris and Ilya Kaminsky