trans. John Hennessy and Ostap Kin 

You’ll crawl, as silent as a grass snake,
into the golden mirrors of the statehouse,
you’ll arrange the roses, smile like Casanova,
and give yourself an order: head into

the office, the epicenter of conspiracy.
The deadman’s waiting for you––don’t blink,
just pull the revolver from the roses,
point the three-inch barrel at him.

You’ll grow six wings in a second
as he slowly sinks to the floor
dragging down a chandelier and an inkwell.

You’ll pull off your gloves (fresh from the laundry)
and, taking the hint from the cosmos,
you’ll hear the buzz of a mosquito.

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

Ти заповзеш, нечутний, ніби вуж,
у золоті дзеркала установи,
поправиш ружу й посміх Казанови
і сам собі накажеш: кроком руш

до кабінету, де — вершина змови.
Тебе чекає мрець — очей не мруж,
а, вихопивши револьвер із руж,
спрямуй на нього дуло тридюймове.

Ти станеш в цю хвилину шестикрилим,
а він повільно зсунеться на килим,
потягне канделябр і каламар.

Ти скинеш рукавички (щойно з пральні)
і, розпізнавши натяки астральні,
почуєш, як видзенькує комар.

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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