by Andrei Voznesensky
Sell me, Fleamarket,
I dote on your triste keepsakes.
It's a cross between old blues and a barcarolle
Your candelabra, samovars--
Menagerie of dusty things!
Their pent-up centuries cry in you
Like elephants who trumpet for
Their rainy forests -- freedom, youth--
In aging zoos.
Rings, rusty bagatelles,
What breasts gleamed in you?
Here's armor, like a cast-off shell,
And whose was this cartouche?
Broken horseheads! Mustangs! Pinchbeck skulls!
If things had souls you'd be their fingerprints!
Temple of junk, Fleamarket!
Your clutter makes a small lost tune
My Muse waltzes to.
Loveseat, your springs gushed out,
Where are your lolling girls?
Can an hourglass measure centuries?
This fine suede, worn at the fingertips,
Coquetted with whose cheeks?
Love! What's its price today, and poetry
Of the useless, utilitarian kind?
How much near-madness, shyness?
What's the good of metaphors to robots?
Sell me, little cast-offs,
I'm obsolete as you!
When Robot Ten comes off the line
There's no use for One or Nine.
My sadness, Fleamarket,
Is possessive as ivy
Or time's green tinge that works its stealth
On cuirasses and leather.
A nail juts up through plush--
Scrap iron! Scrap iron!
As in Picasso's sculpture studio.
I remember him in toreador trousers
Knotting things into centuries
His eye spinning like a ball bearing
Right at his temple, his temple.
(He is a Spaniard and a walking wound.
Once a message came from Franco.
Picasso answered: His portrait? Sure.
Just send me his head!)
I read my poems to him, trembling ...
Their echoes boomeranged
Until those figures from his canvases
Slunk into the corridors.
Age of fallout shelters, caves!
These diagrams of our anatomies
Make us vertical and askew--
Snow sifts down on oranges,
Figures pygmied on mountains.
We're unnumbered as the sands
And sad as grains of sand
Driven down those devil
Traps of narrow-waisting hourglasses.
Don't beef! It's history we're in
For a particle of time.
We're grains of sand? But sand that can spike
And explode cannon barrels
To hell and back.
I'm shouting, but who hears?
Your things are stormed and gray
as after an atomic war.
I am your thing, Twentieth Century.
Suppose they say to me: "You're through!"
What if my rhythms are passé.
Let the youngest moderns sneer,
Poetry won't die.
What if a crudely programmed
made of nuts and bolts
Rasps to me: "You're through!"
Then, Fleamarket, take me in,
I'll slip into a corner like an out-of-fashion jacket.
--like a rocket-launching pad
Excavated in the desert!
translated by JEAN GARRIGUE
from Antiworlds Poems by Andrei Voznesensky edited by Patricia Blake and Max Hatward at Oxford University Press 1967