Two Poems

Originals by Stanislav Lvovsky
Translated, from the Russian, by Jacob A. Sackett-Sanders

the war ended, not having begun

the war ended, not having begun.
the apples of nineteen forty one and thirty
nine gathered, as intended,
lay in the cellar, became cider
and calvados, moonshine, and schnapps.
polish panie, russian countrywomen,
german frauen, british
missuses gave birth to children. and
there weren’t wars in forty one,
nor in forty two, nor later. instead
the peace time lasted and lasted, fewer and fewer
new officers were accepted into service
replacing the elderly, the grey-bearded,
the easily amused, the hundreds of those
on pensions, going to live in white
homes on italian, turkish,
or greek islands, to take grandchildren
with them for the summer to the countryside
(cyprus, ibiza, montenegro).
in order to pick apples, to distill
from them moonshine and calvados,
to make cider and apfelkorn,
to treat each other in the evenings,
pouring from pot-bellied green bottles
unheard-of apple drinks
harvested in thirty nine,
harvested in forty one.
tasting, to agree with one another,
that, darn it, there was nothing before, nor after
better in their memories than this harvest.

no apples before
were so huge
so delicious
so crimson, so alive.
so human,
almost speaking.

so mortal,
so alive,
so ardent.


война закончилась, не начавшись

война закончилась, не начавшись.
яблоки сорок первого, тридцать 
девятого собрались, как положено,
улеглись в погреба, стали сидром
самогоном, кальвадосом и шнапсом.
польские пани, русские бабы
немецкие фрау, британские
миссус нарожали детей. и войны
не случилось ни в сорок первом,
ни в сорок втором, ни потом. а длилось 
себе и длилось мирное время, всё меньше 
новых офицеров принимали на службу 
взамен пожилых уже, седобородых, 
смешливых, сотнями уходивших 
на пенсию, чтобы жить в белых 
домиках на итальянских, турецких, 
на греческих островах, забирать 
внуков к себе на лето, в деревню 
(кипр, ибица, черногория).
чтобы собирать яблоки, гнать 
из них самогонку и кальвадос,
делать сидр и апфелькорн,
угощать друг друга по вечерам, 
подливая из пузатых зелёных бутылок 
небывалые яблочные напитки
урожая тридцать девятого года,
урожая сорок первого года.
пробуя, соглашаться друг с другом,
что, мол, не было ни до, и ни после
на их памяти таких урожаев.

не бывало яблок 
таких огромных,
таких вкусных,
алых, живых. 
таких человеческих, 
почти говорящих.

таких смертных, 



on monday she runs around on business all day

on monday she runs around on business all day.
at different metro stations she sees beggars
with posters, written in the same handwriting
on uniform uneven cardboard:

help, please, my three year old son is dying.
help, please, my three year old daughter is dying.
help, please, my daughter died, three children are left.

marketing, marketing, she thinks, bitches, bitches,
damn you, she thinks, I hate you.
why do I work, when you don’t? she barely manages
to run into the last metro car, turns on her iPod,
grabs a handrail, closes her eyes.

on Friday she goes by the same route.
gives to all three, quickly, not looking.
because it’s the weekend, the eighth of march,
a boy from work, the Real McCoy, two Mojitos,
a B-52, a Jameson neat, four tequilas,–

and here she already believes that He distinguishes her
by her crumpled bills, wet from sweat,
by these hot, fast papers of hers.

and He will do it this way: the boy will want to marry,
and three children with light blue eyes,
and so they will live in a house with an attic
somewhere by a dark blue sea.
never will she ever have to run
on business, from morning until night, on a Monday.

never will she have to stand with cardboard.


в понедельник она весь день бегает по делам

в понедельник она весь день бегает по делам.
на разных станциях видит нищих
с плакатами, написанными одним почерком
на одинаковых неровных картонках:

помогите, умирает трёхлетний сын.
помогите, умирает трёхлетняя дочь.
помогите, дочь умерла, осталось трое детей.

маркетинг, маркетинг, — думает она, — суки, суки,
будьте вы прокляты, — думает, — ненавижу.
почему я работаю, а вы нет? едва успевает
забежать в последний вагон, включает iPod,
хватается за поручень, закрывает глаза.

в пятницу едет тем же маршрутом.
подаёт всем троим, быстро, не глядя.
потому что выходные, восьмое марта,
мальчик с работы, Real McCoy, два мохито,
B-52, Джеймисон безо льда, четыре текилы, —

и вот она уже верит, что Он её различает
по смятым её купюрам, влажным от пота,
по этим её горячим, быстрым бумажкам.

сделает так, что мальчик захочет замуж,
и троих детей с голубыми глазами,
и они будут жить в доме с мансардой
где-нибудь у самого синего моря.
никогда уже ей не придётся бегать
с утра до вечера по делам, в понедельник.

никогда не придётся стоять с картонкой.


Stanislav Lvovsky was born in 1972 and graduated from the Chemistry Department of Moscow State University. After obtaining his degree, he moved into advertising, journalism. Now he works in culture events management. Stanislav Lvovsky is an editor-in-chief for the “Literature” section of OPENSPACE.RU, the only  Internet media in Russia focused entirely on culture.

Lvovsky published a poetry collection, White Noise (Beliy shum), in 1996, a collection of short stories, A Word on Flowers and Dogs (Slovo o tsvetakh i sobakakh), in 2003, a mixed collection of poetry, translations and prose poetry, Three Months of the Year 2 (Tri mesyatsa vtorovo goda), in 2003, a poetry collection, Poems about the Motherland (Stikhi o Rodinye), in 2004, a poetry collection “Camera Rostrum” in 2008 and a novel, Half of the Sky (Polovina neba) (in co-authorship with Linor Goralik in 2004). He is also the author of a number of translations from English (Vytautas Pliura, Charles Bukowsky, Leonard Cohen, Diane Thiel and others), both published and unpublished. His play “Sixplays” written together with Linor Goralik was staged in Moscow-based “Theatre.doc”.

Lvovsky is well known through regular appearances in periodicals and Internet publications. He has received numerous literary honors, including the awards of Moscow Free Verse Festival (1993), Teneta Internet Literary Contest (1998, in three nominations) and the award for best new poetry of the year at the 2003 Moskovskii Schyot. He was shortlisted twice for Andrey Bely prize (2005 and 2009). His poetry has been translated into and published in English, French, Chinese, Italian, Georgian and other languages. Lvovsky has participated in several poetry festivals including Moscow Poetry Biennale, “Poeteka” festival in Albania and “Živa književnost” in Slovenia. Stanislav Lvovsky participated in the Open World – CECArtlink program (2006). Stanislav Lvovsky is a program director of “SlovoNova” poetry Festival in Perm, Russia and a representative  for Joseph Brodsky Memorial Fellowship Fund.

Jacob A. Sackett-Sanders (he/him) is a writer and translator from Wilmington, Delaware. As an undergrad, he studied Slavic Languages and Literature at Princeton University, with a particular focus on Russian poetry and 20th century Yugoslav writing. Although professionally active in the technology sector, publishing his own novel remains a quiet future goal and eager aspiration.