On the Razor Blades in the Subway

Original by Fyodor Svarovsky
Translated, from the Russian, by Molly Dwyer & Linnea M. Paseiro

the new subway cars
now have
doors with razor blades

there is also a modification
with a saw

after closing
the saws on the ends of the doors
keep going up and down for a while

just like that
up and down

no wonder
that this changes everything
now the announcement “stand clear of the closing doors, please”
does not seem like a mere formality

on the platforms at rush hour
someone’s arms, legs remain

the metrocars
are splattered with blood

the passengers
trying to protect themselves from the spray
dress in plastic covers

the word, “conductor”—
is a synonym for “executioner”

the subterranean valley of mortal terror –
the Moscow subway
bearing Lenin’s name



none of this is true
oh what happiness
that there is none of this

no groan or pain
no blood on the shirt
of the tired employee
leaving the subway

and we’re somehow

we still say
that we lack something

and feel cheated


moving around
in the most beautiful
on earth



у новых вагонов метро
двери с лезвиями

есть модификация 
и с пилой

после закрытия
пилы на концах дверей 
еще некоторое время ходят вверх-вниз

вот так вот

что это всё меняет:
теперь объявление “осторожно, двери закрываются”
не выглядит простой проформой

на перронах в час пик
остаются чьи-то руки, ноги

забрызганы кровью

уберегаясь от брызг
ходят в полиэтиленовой пленке

слово “машинист” – 
синоним слова “палач”

подземная юдоль ужаса смертного –
московский метрополитен
имени Ленина



всё это неправда
какое же счастье
что этого нет

нет стона и боли
нет крови на рубашке
выходящего из метро
усталого служащего

а мы-то
всё еще

мы говорим 
что чего-то еще у нас нет

и требуем
и чувствуем себя обманутыми


в самом красивом
на свете

Feodor Swarovski was born in Moscow in 1971. He emigrated to Denmark in 1990 at the age of nineteen, returned to Moscow in 1997, and has lived in Montenegro since 2016. He is a journalist who has worked for television as well as print media. Swarovski’s first book of poetry, Vse khotiat byt’ robotami (2007; Everyone wants to be a robot), received the Moskovsky Schet prize and was short-listed for the Andrei Belyi prize. He was short-listed for the Andrei Belyi prize again in 2009 for his poetry collection Puteshestvenniki vo vremeni (Time travelers). Swarovski’s poetry has been translated into English, Bulgarian, Danish, Polish, Slovenian, and Ukranian. In 2019 he was awarded with the prize of International festival Poetry without borders in Riga.

Molly Dwyer is a Washington D.C.-based senior analyst, working in the intersection of technology and geopolitical affairs. Dwyer graduated from Princeton University with a major in Comparative Politics and a minor in Russian and Eurasian Studies; her 2016 undergraduate thesis focused on the Kremlin’s information warfare campaign around the invasion of Ukraine. Refugees from the former Soviet Union in her Midwestern community—who became friends and teammates—sparked her early passion for the Russian language. Before Princeton, Dwyer received the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to study for a year in Kazan, Tatarstan; she went on to study in Moscow and Baku, intern at the U.S. Consulate in Yekaterinburg, and travel throughout the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Dasha (Darya) Koltunyuk completed a summa cum laude degree in Comparative Literature at Princeton University, focusing on the intersection between music and literature. She has performed both as a soloist and a chamber musician throughout the United States, Spain, France, Germany, Holland, and the United Kingdom, while claiming top prizes at national and international competitions. Beyond performance, Koltunyuk has extended her love of music by launching the Opportunity Music Project’s chamber music summer camp for low-income NYC children as a winner of the Davis Project for Peace, and establishing Live Music Meditations at Princeton University Concerts as Outreach Manager for the series, shortly after graduation. She continues to be part of the inspiring team at Princeton University Concerts, living in Princeton, NJ with her soulmate husband, pianist/composer Gregg Kallor, and their tomato plant, Tobias.