Into a magnificent ship he decided to transform His omul barrel so as to (as in that great song) Cross the Sacred Lake Baikal without oar, sail, or rudder, The saintly Nikolai Fedorovich Lupynin from the village Kultuk, And so he has found a large wooden bobbin ... It's a sin to let good things go to waste in the town dump, He constructed a marvel, a personal floating apparatus Sincerely believing his baby wouldn't have far to go. Of the heavy fetters of his childhood friend whom he helped escape, Of the sniper's fire, of the bullet that the runner missed, A second century now the self-sovereign people sing--First deposes the Tsar, then goes to sea on a bobbin-barrel. I recall in my childhood just such an omul barrel in the shed, Remember the old boyar settlement, Boyar, and the fish poachers, After a fistfight, threatening the Budreyev brothers with a private's belt, With an old friend, Sereoga, walking home along the tracks, out of habit....
Translator's note: The omul (Coregonus migratorious) is a whitefish species of the salmon family endemic to Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia. "With an old friend, Sereoga ..." is an allusion to a popular beatnik song of the 1970s.
Amarsana Ulzytuev (b. 1963), an alumnus of the Gorky Literature Institute, is from the Buryatia capital of Ulan-Ude, one hundred miles southeast of Lake Baikal. Just off the presses is his third book, Anaphora. His first two are Morning Forever (2002) and Abovenew (2009; with an afterword by Alexander Eremenko), and a fourth is forthcoming from Vremya. Alex Cigale's translations of his other poems are online in Plume.
Alex Cigale's own English-language poems have appeared in Colorado, Green Mountains, and The Literary Review and online in Asymptote, Drunken Boat, and McSweeney's. His other translations from the Russian can be found in Cimarron Review, Literary Imagination, Modern Poetry in Translation, New England Review, PEN America, and Washington Square Review. From 2011 to 2013 he was an assistant professor at the American University of Central Asia.
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|Title Annotation:||Two Poems|
|Publication:||World Literature Today|
|Date:||May 1, 2014|
|Previous Article:||Like Fire.|