Damian Kudriavtsev is a poet, born in 1971 in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia. He studied journalism at Leningrad State University, and philology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
He published his first book of verse in 1991 (/Poems, /self-published). Since 1995 Mr. Kudriavtsev has resided in Moscow. He has founded and owned a number of television, print, and Internet businesses.

He has been published in many Russian and foreign literary journals and collections (/NLO, Vavilon, 22, Itogi). /In 2002, the publisher "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" released his new book, "/The Practice of Russian Poetry/". Currently, Mr. Kudriavtsev is preparing for the publication of his first novel, and a third book of verse, "/Proper Names/", to be published by "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" and OGI.



     "In Damian there is everything, or almost everything, that distinguished young poets of our former Great Age: passion, rage, the willingness to die for a sniff of tobacco. Damian Kudriavtsev was born an extremist, like all poets. In him there are no brown-nosing mugs of today. He is cut from the stone of the past and looks into the future, where those like him will build their world out of blood, kindling, earth, and egg yolk, streaming down the Siqueiros faces of the new-fangled Rothschilds. Before you is a memorandum of the soul of the real poet, not concerned with his daily bread, and therefore blissful. I am glad that this book has appeared."

Eduard Limonov

     "I could recite the delightful /"my asia minor"/, or one of his other minor masterpieces. All of his verse is economical, sharply imaged, its figures distinct. What can you do if a computer mouse in profile resembles the bird heads of ancient egyptian reliefs?"

Andrei Voznesensky


Unpublished:


GAGARIN


1/

you're alive still
as the river flows
as wheat bursting in the hand
as a tongue from which bluebirds rose
what else
tell me then


2/

how you laughed
ate
drank lemonade
tricked let's call them your clouds
the reflection self-replicates
seer sails in the skies for now
as his eagle eye scans
the scenery below
where he's hanging on silence's ends
but his dreams are lost without name
and his dreams o you can't explain


3/

meantime i myself
flow on streamlike
i myself uncertain with shaking head
smiling at miracles just beheld
myself i still might
turn into a cape and fly
as myself and i


4/

let's you and me go ride
out to the edges
where paradise for real melts and splashes
i know just where to - pack for the road
we'll leave come morning
let them spread their ashes

let's you and me go travel from within
to where there's sand and coast and ocean crashes
with death so near and a hearse to catch us
and seagulls loudly curse
the fishermen


5/

of poetry's dominion upon
the far side of this lonely planet
of mastery that's thoroughly had it
let's go he said
with one sweep of the hand
waved to his comrades
and then was no more
still halfway from america out to
the backlit world
with nothing but a line to put it out



TRAFALGAR

1/
this square whose name has been exchanged
so many times i can't keep track of
addresses nor the numbers on the page
this square whose stairs spiral to the sky
holds so few tenses in these tenseless times
that i have memorized them just for spite
this square where you might fall prostrate
under the one brought not by golden rains
but you're just waiting for the bus another
would be awaiting chariots in your place

2/
and once we're there
we always go inside
into a house beyond the seven seas
grandchildren close as the noose
who needs good news
where can we find a place to take
ourselves come evening
when both doubly bilingual
we suck down stoli
and the milky
way bids a sick day

3/
in this square even in daylight
where shadows tend to go off-white
to juggle fire might be unwise
in this square which instead of change
drops tears on the expanse of stone
you'll stop expecting cabs to show
that don't know where you need to go



LEBED1

1/
lay down the absinthe from the field
spit out the hemp here on the tray
and the henbane as you anneal
whichever way you toss
and turn
the hand grenade
leave then a prayer for him with wings of steel
as he becomes what memories hold
amen

2/
i'm not a pure white bloody swan
above this faded outworn
no need today to wonder where
they pulled this ticket from
we've barely crossed the minefield on
e4 sides round the king's one pawn
through war what war and cut the whine
through hair gone grey on either side
now on parade seen from behind
for fashion's sake

3/
don't drown your face in the koran
i keep the memory of your name
see
at their gate this bleeding ram
myself
in fire's way
for my life i could
give a hoot
hey there soldier fall in line
less swan than phoenix
i take flight
above the pulled-back heads of men
the dniester towns pacified
then over moscow damn her sky
i'll cover all
with mad cow's cry
and drink one for good health to mark
his fortieth day

4/
what's it to me come i will sing
in our forgotten mother tongue
in dead of winter or beside
the ice breach in the muted stream
what's it to me today i stand
where only memory's catch remains
while everything dissolves. i can but
ever keep the names and
the last words said

1 lebed = swan (Rus.)



FOR SAVELIY GRINBERG

he wasn't half bad
lord of the verse
god of the other wordly flocks
when he'd let fly
into the plexus of the clouds
pray that he brings you a red rooster not
a pair of bays o go catch em now
both bundled up in shiny apple knots
though he was moving through his ninetieth year but on a villain everything looks chillin Osama's mouth sang hosanna for him and he would see a dream improper for his station ah so
the dream he saw while himself stationless was to go take his offal while still alive and bring it out for the mutts to tear his trenchcoat belly open to the groin meant death to all charades and doublehear
so dies one day one gentleman and lays his arm across the thick felt boot till finally arthritis breaks his hands either the dreams took baby by the root or else he heard the loonlit dogs drowned owly howl
then shall saveliy slowly ascend up into heaven with his thrown back head.


PU YI

1/
and when they've finally renamed us
to those benign ones far away
who
gives a flying what remains
under the heavens save these tongues that
still tremble under palate sky
covered with measles and with pollen
given new faces
freshly born
they flowered with shanghai gilding
and with the taiga yet unshorn
search for me afterwards
the pilot
an old earring you could buy
observe how higher than the pines your
endless possessions multiply
the world's unbearable in fall
and Pu Yi's gone.

2/
all of the emeror's might
emember sometime
sea to sea lie the palace rugs
made in china
fools were we to ignore
the lip
whose chip's outgrown the shoulder
where to find us a new Pu I
with war now around the corner.

3/
while the woman
wistfully eyes the moon
what a bitch such a fox and from
nothing to do
you'll go with her to
have a good time you
will just come along
sing that peace may forever be
with Pu Yi
my the things my cops miss out on

4/
sing for me in five golden tones
spreading ulcers like healing hands
all that you and i find to celebrate
here awaiting the cold's advance
of such as he
there were no spares
for rainy days you die whenever
you don the dynasty of ching
which we'll repaint someday together

5/
and when they finally rename us
atop the armor and the scale
and draft their logic differently
hell with Pu Yi
who's standing near
who's been bleached pale
now freeze
when we like bubbles fly again
into the air.



KIEV

1/
times when what we rode was
city subway trains
names when we were known as
keep your hands away
like your cloud's communion
wafer sweet and gray

2/
no simpler earthly way to awe
than walk out naked in the square
where witches wash with voices raw
over the heads flag and flagbearer
where swamp divisions rank and file
jaws half-unlocked and wide-eyed stares
observed a fine young gypsy's smile and
the dancing bears

3/
and in childhood i wanted
a sister so
a siren's howl could
break bark touch bone
like your cabbie's sacrament on
that kreschatik square dawn

4/
now it seems i have
lived up to
years you can easily fold in four
where anathema splashes beneath your skirts
waiting for the moscow troubadour.

5/
crowd's howling dynamo got a goal
or last night i slept
with my hair crossed
but the wind is still rushing through my locks
made of gold perchance



HANNIBAL

1/
Swam
self-contained
both fish and water
beast of the sea
swam to myself or longing
saw self recede

how wrinkled now and how fast fading
there by the shore
is
what i hoped might be my landing
they'll take no more

2/
and you all unto me
unto my native tongue and sound
the flaming evil tongue and tone
the tribe and then again flesh tongue
and time long as there's time godspeed
parting of stirrup and the archer's seed
that left no son in parting for the theme
- this line best left unseen -
and no grandson

the empty berths of memory and nostalgia
fifth fingers ringless and the rest asleep
where while expecting servants
ringing phones and signs
his tongue's old sound was for a time
lost for a taste of how the loss would go
- although -
with both tongues it is so

she's analyzed my illness and for me
it's all the same i'm made of glass and tin
wombmate with silence
which - as i'm
invincible
the promised to the beggar dinner
and things which always come with things
i'm self-sufficient
arrow skeleton and sorrel
where there's a lack of laurel

3/
the way the galley now has spread
its fin wide like a paper fan
so i recall the measures and
the rulers of the empire
a student's marks were never higher

where not to thrust one's loving part
and backroom tenderness that's bigger
than views of homeland from the front
on flags sewn with its dashing figure

i always saw you taking measured steps
a pleasing package from exotic lands
when the bay's water met the breastbone
and the face falling found the sand

4/
so we've arrived time cut short as
the dress the flag the toga or the shroud
longer the blade goes without sheath and shame
the more what once was drawn will stay the same

you bend around the shore and then
down from the hills bring battle to the town
o Italy my dearest friend
you bitch how dear you come

5/
let us forget the fitted stones
of others' walls
we'll live both sweet and long
watching the waves roll
laying low
to each according to his need
to come to where he was

that my revenge may twice be quenched
in rivers entered once.



Tongue twister

not long left to live now in this lovely kingdom
panhandling cloudberries from household help
study these peas that leave frost on the fingers
laced with the white seed of moonpowder kelp

of sideburns and sweethearts it was that consisted
our pride in that time that we sized by the yard -
nudging the gelding's worn face again into
the look what the cat just dragged in winter's card

come minister to terek's deathbed hysterics
that led neva river in iron restraints
toward
the blue of the shore slowly fading
way past america
sweeter than can-

dy you remember the motherland sometime
naked voice held in cellphone honeycomb
and how blackcurrants lay dark in your palms and
berries bring bad luck wolf scat



ODYSSEUS

remember me as a corporal
down to
the golden lapels
my widowed bride's photo
in poseidon's smug hands
war is no closer than his quote marks
and changing habits is not for us
while i still haven't crossed you off
remember me from the native nest

remember me at the rudder
the orphanage
cream of wheat
seems enough when there's three more
squinting out in the street
war is no closer than his banners
and he has no eyes whom we victimize
going sour in the swamp on our asses
in your billygoat's milk
steaming and thick

remember us
as the ripening seed
each one's will
but where's his fill
sent to helen back on a journey
what
kind of gift we might yet return him

what
say you - do i insinuate
what
if fun is my final sin
where our offspring first spoke gagagoo
i'll award myself a quick death in lieu
and let them bury us separate
with a good seaview
where the greek rode by twisting tongues askew



BIOGRAPHY

i was born the way
of the other quarter
look out at the snow split the table's width
nurse's jaw in parts somewhat out of order
and the loud crash of the cannons mid-
day or should i crack both glassy lids

i was born out there
just to spite the cold
and grandfather
whose
beard and with it (from
shame and prozac slavery and prose)
the nostalgic kind crystal clear come

do not go alone
after polar howls
at the border built out of crimson bricks
was no sky above but the sadness was and
reached its hand up to
mother's shoulder. if

certain fish come to terms with certain fishers
golden hooks through entrails with a sexy twist
i will lie back down in dank russia's rushes
where the goosebumps run longing from the hips

where the damp insole
from the lower lip hanging
mine
that seemed so brave
valiantly lied
like the orderly
with the mournful mustache
with the battle forged silver plated sides
...



HEINE

for you who gave words
to the sea - full up to the knee
with those who had time to fall

to look at the setting sun
to rinse what is clean
embroidering white on white

for you who gave speech
not only the words but then
the vocal cords that swelled
from the unending drafts

where the windmill's wind turns a swastika
that fell from the native tongue.



my great fish god
who rubbeth shoulders with sardines
whose term in his own home has ceased
between the lines
that you nor i recall
i ran away from grandma/grandpas farm

her who's not maid nor widow clothe and feed
unnoticing of walls and greying locks
and please don't diagnose stern from nose
when this my recent writing you receive
scrawled on a twisted dry tea leaf
pushed underneath the crosseyed prison doors

what is the race? birth? memory of these troops
now standing guard over our sons and dreams
who in hell needs the bitterness and loss
the message now approaches its end
much like the dates -
just squeeze - left of the buttons - with your hand

and for the fog's black hole - a bit of filth
while cursing dares not touch the armor's hide
your brother's father's conscience your quid
pro quo and your regalia i keep
here in my italy
where one lake by the woods
is the last refuge of the magic bream
which just as soon as this last fleeting scene

but all that has already come to pass
or so it seems in darkness, through the seams.



Vostryakovo cemetery

just that it's not polite to stare
what kind of death is waiting there
i'm taking out of circulation -
with one-third of the old key's turn
and the long memory of the shoulder -
words that the whitewashed gates let go
(did we come so white clean - did i?)
as one found almost paralyzed
i saw my motherland in a casket
when she lay there surrounded by
politically correct grand stein-
ways, upper lips thrown back, astride
we are wild seeds of a halfway platoon
the uglies of past tyrannies
take care my son that you not leave
your honor conscience bloodline
the passwords meetings garden beds
the factories little creeks milldams
labors and days
however many still are left
- while clear primeval as she flows
the water on black iron gates -
one hand suffices for the count

when, nickels over both eyes -
the hefty soviet kind - we'll place
and gently walking through the puddles
just like that song - our old honored age



our life was spellcast over bagels
our life was digitized for the public
and our frivolous letters will hardly
draw a scavenging quoter

i've been out to india, marko polo,
i've been out to fields where money grew
my what rhyme
had an earring in my do
and went out to soldier

and then too i loved you my waxen one
that's untender when waking
at night unkind
and
meandering
walked me out - who knows where

we considered that maidens made us
got the hang of mice and of munchkins
and laid large around (ears to the ground)
one was full of carats



THE WEDDING

mary mother russian as a cipher
walks with mendelssohn beneath the eaves
if geography runs out i'd like to 
facing to the south take leave

sleep my beauty weary in the sunlight
by the tattered crossings of the ways
just a sip more history if i might
if there's any left there just a taste

here with my only sabbath maiden
draped still in emergency white dressings
i will walk to where the sea is waiting
to amaze then to return caressing

framed into the four sides of the square
into outrun and hide and scatter
after and before the dose of serum
slowly. hands held together. 



AMOUR

for darkened weapons in the sweat of night
for what the porters got us on the side
for secrets branded in the turkish porto

for when we're two we're an enormous beast
yet when the cradled eye blurs into tears
we make fine visuals my love for any volume

for mornings pink with sore throated blush
for goddess chambers visited just once
for go to hell
but come back even sooner

for happiness divisible by two
and for the bird still here - hear her hoot
my lovely one
for worlds of words that end
with the straightforward german Scheisse!

for we shall still be at the altar then
with fresh donations for our feral friend
hands tightly webbed prehensile wet
and no one will disturb the anchors

while toward this geometry those worldly
while sketching rivers melting icy floes
and future chinas that could dawn and on

to each their own.



HARBIN

bold as a flute blushing from kisses
yet the canary won't sing to the moths
only the corporal off to his finish
silently sews crosses to O's

why won't you sleep my girl dear
child with sweet paprika red curls
slender spokes entwined are spinning
into the night to keep you warm

where the brigade left for the forest
cross which yours truly never did course
the fresh-faced flute of armies parading
strikes up again the old vienna waltz

someplace amnesic and slightly uneasy
song about suzy back home slowly trailed
and how they froze all in the last oval
mourning marble slippery tale

lay o my lullaby melody flow
fly as the slight maestro's baton
may you dream of the vessel abandoned
china white yellow home



Translated by Genia Zilberstein.




© 2004 Damian Kudriavtsev
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