September the First

In a roomy, bright classroom, a female teacher
snapped the names under the white sheet of the ceiling,
and the kids pulsed, trembled, like bobbers.
Those eyes, hopelessly alive,
were quietly screaming out
the poems of their childhood—
the lost odysseys for humankind.
There was no teacher I loved.
The class did not reject me—
I was part of
the dwarf of the crowd,
but felt my foreignness:
a bullet stuck in a muscle,
a shell splinter in the folds of fat. I concealed my identity,
like a rose or a knife, and always waited for summer—
the honeyed Eden of holidays, a sunny sandbank
amid the suffering hell,
and summer, oh, summer—a rainy one, a quick, shortened one—
it always hurried like a nursing tabby that hears the sound
of an opening fridge, and the kittens of days slipped off her nipples,
the kittens of June, of July, I was getting scared, I was getting older,
and time accelerated…
Soon the day would be 24 minutes long,
then 24 seconds long, then
just one breathing in and out long—
and the spotted hyena of September the first
will jump into your arms.
The carrion of the clock dial.
On this planet, you spend your best years among monsters, sick magicians,
and giants…

Translated by Sergey Gerasimov from the Russian

Dmitry Blizniuk is a poet from Ukraine. His most recent poems have appeared in Rattle, The London Magazine, Pleiades, Another Chicago Magazine, Eurolitkrant, Poet Lore, NDQ, The Pinch, New Mexico Review, The Ilanot Review, National Translation Month and many others. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he is also the author of The Red Fоrest (Fowlpox Press, 2018). His poems have been awarded the RHINO 2022  Translation Prize. He lives in Kharkov, Ukraine.

Sergey Gerasimov is a Ukraine-based writer, poet, and translator of poetry. Among other things, he has studied psychology. He is the author of several academic articles on cognitive activity. When he is not writing, he leads a simple life of teaching, playing tennis, and kayaking down beautiful Ukrainian rivers. The largest book publishing companies in Russia, such as AST, Eksmo, and others have published his books. His stories and poems written in English have appeared in Adbusters, Clarkesworld Magazine, Strange Horizons, J Journal, The Bitter Oleander, and Acumen, among many others. His last book is Oasis published by Gypsy Shadow. The poetry he translated has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes.