Your death sport and red caviar

I change at Trubnaya metro and see — fire
I get off at the university and see — fire
I go down the escalator at Chistye Prudy and see — fire
when we fall at Begovaya, at Vykhino, we see — fire, fire, fire

boys and girls their eyes filled with blood
(to hell with ’68)
students in hats with pompons
walking silently next to me
and suddenly they start to shout: “FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!”

suffocating in dark leggings
the universities flare up
the textbooks of cowardly literature
mixed with lusterless works
flare up along with me

only tonight we became younger
and everyone wants to be honest with himself
he puts on a hard hat and a shield and whispers: “fire”
in a siberian dorm in the shitter he slashes his wrists, can’t help it, and whispers: “fire”
he knocks over the guard and falls by the turnstiles, shouting: “fire!”
and the guard shouts: “fuck off, go back to your ’68, you’re dead!”

creators of meditative internet surveys, remember
all the universities here stand on blood
in the tests and IDs blood is splashing
blood is boiling in their pockets
in the cafeterias and the bars they serve only blood
and we think it’s juice, or tea, or food,
but it’s blood, blood, black rotten blood

write an article when you can’t keep back the blood
attach yourself to some fashionable politicians and say, “yes, there really is some blood here . . .”
that’s right, fool, it’s in your department, on your sneakers, on your lips
we are all standing here covered in blood
and what kind of struggle could have an impact?
what words?

to explain the importance of student actions
maybe now we don’t need 1968 in that form
to explain the importance of student actions
I go out on the streets
I call home
I say: “mama, everything will be fine. no one will be saved.
because salvation is for those who believe in the pressure, believe in the absolute power
of the system
salvation is an idea for slaves
and there is no salvation. mama, we are all saved. you just need to see:
the marches, the millions, their desire, fury, their fire.
speaking as best they can, without trying to build something or overcome.
otherwise, what kind of students would they be, otherwise
fat fat fat
death death death”

while we were writing and screwing while we were tortured by loneliness
while dealing with the dead body of politics and burying the state’s lamented carcass in heaven
Bulgarian students have occupied Sofia University demanding the government be dissolved,
they say: “because we felt, we knew, that our fellow citizens would support us”
and you say: “well, Bulgaria isn’t Russia, less poison and rot,
here in old Russia, under the heel, under pressure, we have to bend over backward thinking up slow methods of struggle, clear political positions”
young corpse-eaters
yes, you have to fucking think, think from within
submission, of course, you have to think, where’s Nadya1 and where
are we in our death,
students bent over in the darkness, asses in the air

our sex is covered in black ashes
and leaden wine, a web of ritual meetings of cheap poems
Pavlensky nailed his balls to the paving stone2
and for three years I can’t kiss you
can’t be with you, my beloved
because of this darkness
because you are weak like all of us

your mothers dripped like fat and cry
they can’t understand what’s going on
they scramble into the city in black buckskin and terrible tunics
scramble into death through the sales
discounted milk their rank vaginas
able only to give birth: “yes to the health of the Russian nation, no to migrants,
let them go from our Moscow-vagina”
our mothers left thick scars on the dead body of the land

our mothers — domestic clots of flat aggression
and everything tells them: “take it!”
our fathers smooth sick erasers lulled to sleep with imaginary food and an imaginary war
and our fathers, the ones who work in provincial factories
like trees spreading their branches in a pus-filled winter
and you say: “Galya, what’s this got to do with ’68?”

this is NOT some intellectual rebellion
I go out on the streets
and I see: only fire

I die on the street
and the last thing I see is fire
my friends, pumped up on heavy pills
they follow me
we splinter off in the depths and all we see
this isn’t heaven isn’t hell it’s a political system, the essence of which is fire
the essence of which is repetition until death and a failure to see
repetition, until the fat and the horror leave our people
our fellow citizens
there’s no knife
no other weapon
no reasonable discourse
no public lectures
no blood
no tender poetry
no terrible tenderness at the last

they threw the body of the migrant onto the tracks
they tear the living flesh off our friends
with pumped-up thighs they come to kill
raping while you’re taking notes on Lermontov’s biography
killing, throwing on the tracks while you’re dreaming of a career in physics, making it big
while you’re dreaming of manned flights to other galaxies
they will cover the whole sky with a flag of death as if there’s nothing there
no galaxies at all
and maybe, when you’ve done your half-assed notes, you will go and rape
go and tear the living flesh off a migrant or a tramp
or you’ll shout business is love
because they are you because there is no class enemy
only cruelty they
only betrayal we
only silence I
without love, without power, without sex, without time, without ’68
a feminist wail with a needle in your tongue
weak boys in black suspenders
students without student solidarity
bent over for a fuck in the offices
dead education in polished boots
horrible russian men with little beards with briefcases and feeble thoughts
frozen in the universities like root vegetables
in the black earth
the burnt face of fertility, the decrepit corpse of the silver age
the works of Tsiolkovsky on the bones of mysterious animals
a mutated president embracing Akhmatova
your death sport and red caviar

what is there in this place?
football matches in nowhere
and the vibrating old breasts of our mothers
and youth, youth, youth,
drenched in a weak alcoholic cocktail
with a small brow and dirty fingernails
youth, without sex, without rage, without love

televisions blown up by punks
I leave my house and rush to remind you
while the future lard and another layer of lard and slow, flexible murder are sleeping in you
outside time, outside love and art, outside political convictions,
we are ass lubricant
containers for death
the death of philosophy
all knowledge
we have gathered all together
animals devouring other animals,
covered in makeup and pimples
with rotten notes and grades going out for a smoke
opening our eyes for a minute
we must see fire

never see blood
nor time
nor prices
nor underlings
nor money
nor corpses
nor those fucked by the crowd
nor lard
nor horror
nor blood
we see only: fire!

I move from Moscow to Petersburg and see: fire!
I see screaming universities
I see people kissing
people alive
I move from Petersburg to Novosibirsk
from Novosib to Chita
from Chita to Krasnodar and see people alive
I see students, fire
people marching, fire
trembling, feeling, blind
invincible and kind, fire
I see you fire
love you fire
knowledge rage emotion and fire
for those who have occupied our reality prison and fire
where all the city squares are ours — fire
thinking what’s next — fire
other galaxies books science fire
death to the anthropological machine fire
Diderot in the Kremlin with a skull in his hands fire
I see Benjamin with a red flag and a cup of coffee in the Kremlin fire
everyone rising from the camps and marching with us to the squares and into the institutes fire
for our grandfathers and great-grandfathers the forests and the wheat fields fire
for wine and cigarettes fire
for the possibility of a personal stance fire
for solidarity for weakness for breaking the blockade fire
for death to the consumer system for an end to media violence fire
for our meetings real meetings of people alive speaking us fire
beyond alienation beyond limits and nations fire
fire beyond myself and in the students
and in the family and in me and in
you, who already knows
who sees
who says: “this is how I want it, I’m not jerking off someone else’s ideas,
I lie down under a tree and I’m eating a fresh roll, eating my bread,
they shoot bullets at me and miss”
I get out at a suburban Moscow train station and I see crowds of students marching up
pale free consolidated university
barely trembling, in the air only
in smoke raised by practice
in which all limits
are torn at the seams like the clothes of your beloved
who you meet once again
in fire lying with her
and I say: “Yes. My lover, yes.
We are together again.”

 — Translated by Joan Brooks

  1. In this context, probably Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, of Pussy Riot, at this moment in a prison colony in Mordovia. [Ed.] 

  2. Pyotr Pavlensky, a radical Russian performance artist; in late 2013 he nailed his scrotum to Red Square to protest against political apathy and oppression. [Ed.] 

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