trans. John Hennessy and Ostap Kin 

Mister butcher and mister musician sat down
to play, the cards filthy, covered in grease.
Obsession with winning obscured all else;
outside the window, an uproar, a view.

Everything would’ve been fine, except for the spade.
It never showed up––the musician flipped out,
he told himself: “Punch this guy right in the face.
Look at that ugly mug.”

And he smashed the butcher’s head with an iron.
That guy won’t be selling any more meat,
he’s lying on his back without a sound.

The musician goes on forever, like he’s on
a pilgrimage, accompanied by courteous cops,
somewhere far away, probably to prison.

John Hennessy is the author of two poetry collections, Bridge and Tunnel and Coney Island Pilgrims. He is the co-translator, with Ostap Kin, of A New Orthography, selected poems by Serhiy Zhadan, finalist for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, 2021, and co-winner of the Derek Walcott Prize, 2021. The poems published here are included in the forthcoming anthology Babyn Yar: Ukrainian Poets Respond (Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute), edited and co-translated by Ostap Kin.

Ostap Kin is an editor (and translator with John Hennessy) of Babyn Yar: Ukrainian Poets Respond (forthcoming from Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute) and New York Elegies: Ukrainian Poets Respond, and is the co-translator, with John Hennessy, of A New Orthography, selected poems by Serhiy Zhadan, co-winner of the Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry and finalist for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. With Vitaly Chernetsky, he translated Yuri Andrukhovych's Songs for a Dead Rooster.


Yuri Andrukhovych

У карти, так обшмульгані, що аж,
засіли пан різник і пан музика.
Була спокуса виграшу велика,
а за вікном був гомін і пейзаж.

І все зійшло б гаразд, якби не піка.
Вона не йшла — музика впав у раж,
сказав собі: «Ти в пику його вмаж!
Дивись, яка паскедна в нього пика!».

І різнику в чоло зацідив прасом.
Той більш не буде торгувати м'ясом,
він горілиць лежить і ні мур-мур.

У супроводі ґречних поліцаїв
музика йде навік, мов у Почаїв,
кудись далеко, певно, у тюрму.

Yuri Andrukhovych is one of the most prominent and influential Ukrainian poets and writers. He has published more than a dozen poetry collections, fiction books, and collections of essays, and his work has been translated into many languages. His most recent collection of poems in English translation is Songs for a Dead Rooster (2018); his most recent collection of essays is My Final Territory (2018). Andrukhovych lives and works in Ivano-Frankivsk.

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