Featured Poem

Needle


Anton, age thirty-two.
Status: ‘living with parents’.
Orthodox, but didn’t go to church,
finished college, took English as his foreign language.
Worked as a tattoo artist, had a signature style,
if you can call it that.
Lots of folks from our local crowd passed through
his skilful hands and sharp needle.
When all this started, he talked a lot about
politics and history, started going to rallies,
fell out with friends.
Friends took offence, clients disappeared.
People got scared, didn’t get it, left town.
You feel a person best when you touch her with a needle.
A needle stings, a needle stitches. Beneath
its metallic warmth the texture of a woman’s skin is so supple,
the bright canvas of male skin’s so stiff.
Piercing that outer shell,
you release the body’s velvet beads
of blood. Carve, carve out
angels’ wings on the submissive surface of the world.
Carve, carve, tattoo artist, for our calling
is to fill this world with meaning, to fill it
with colours. Carve, tattoo artist, this
outer lining, which hides souls and diseases –
all that we live for, all that we will die for.
Someone said they shot him at a roadblock,
in the morning, a weapon in his hands, somehow by accident –
No one knew what happened.
They buried him in a mass grave (they buried them all that way).
His possessions were returned to his parents.
Nobody updated his status.
There will come a time when some bastard
will surely write heroic poems about this.
There will come a time when some other bastard
will say this isn’t worth writing about.


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About the translation:
» Read translator's notes
Poet:
SERHIY ZHADAN
Translator:
AMELIA M. GLASER, YULIYA ILCHUK
Original language:
Ukrainian
Issue:
2017 Number 3 - War of the Beasts and the Animals

About the author

Original poet

SERHIY ZHADAN

SERHIY ZHADAN is a Ukrainian poet, fiction writer, essayist, and translator. He has published over two dozen books. The Englis...

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Translator

AMELIA M. GLASER

AMELIA M. GLASER is an associate professor of Russian and comparative literature at the University of California San Diego. He...

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Translator

YULIYA ILCHUK

YULIYA ILCHUK has published articles on the topics of postcolonial theory and criticism, institutions of authorship, reading c...

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