Ah, wherefrom this,
how explain this
brandishing of dirty fists
at bright joy!
and thoughts of a madhouse
curtained my head in despair.
as a dreadnought founders
and men in choking spasms
dive out of an open hatch
so Burlyuk, panic-stricken,
though the screaming gash of his eye.
Almost bloodying his teary eyelids,
he crawled out,
and, with tenderness unexpected in one so obese,
It’s fine, when a yellow shirt
shields the soul from investigation!
when thrown at the gibbet’s teeth,
“Drink Van Houten’s Cocoa!”
like a Bengal light,
I would not exchange for anything,
not for any …
Out of the cigar smoke,
Severyanin’s drink-sodden face lurched forward
like a liqueur glass.
How dare you call yourself a poet,
and twitter greyly like a quail!
split the world inside the skull!
who are supremely worried by the thought:
“Am I an elegant dancer?”
Look at my way of enjoying life –
pimp and cardsharp!
steeped in love
the centuries with tears,
I’ll turn my back, fixing
the sun like a monocle
into my gaping eye.
Donning fantastic finery,
I’ll strut the earth
to please and scorch;
will precede me, like a pug, on a leash.
The earth, like a woman, will flop on her back,
a mass of quivering flesh, ready to yield;
things will come to life –
and their lips
will lisp and lisp:
and other cloudy things in the sky
will roll and pitch madly
as if workers in white when their way
after declaring a bitter strike against the sky.
More savagely, thunder strode from a cloud,
friskily snorting from enormous nostrils;
and, for a second, the sky’s face was twisted
in the Iron Chancellor’s grim grimace.
entangled in a cloudy mesh.
held out his hands to a café;
and it looked somehow feminine,
and tender somehow,
and somehow like a gun carriage.
the sun was tenderly
patting the cheeks of the café?
No, it’s General Gallifet,
advancing again to mow down the rebels!
Strollers, hands from your pockets –
pick a stone, knife, or bomb;
and if any of you have no arms,
come and fight with your forehead!
Forward, famished ones,
mildewed in the flea-ridden dirt!
Painting Mondays and Tuesdays in blood,
we shall turn them into holidays.
Let the earth at knife’s point, remember
whom it wished to debase!
bulging like a mistress
whom Rothchild has overfondled!
The flags may flutter in a fever of gunfire
as on every important holiday –
will you, the street lamps, hoist high up
the battered carcasses of traders.
fought to fasten
my teeth into somebody’s flesh,
In the sky, red as Marseillaise,
the sunset shuddered at its last gasp.
Nothing at all will remain.
Night will arrive,
bite in two,
gobble you up.
is the sky playing Judas again
with a handful of treachery-spattered stars?
Feasted like Mamai,
squatting with its rump on the city.
Our eyes cannot break this night,
black as Azef!
I huddle, slumped in corners of saloons;
with vodka drenching my soul and the cloth,
in one corner – rounded eyes:
the madonna’s, which bite into the heart.
Why bestow such radiance of the painted form
upon a horde infesting a saloon!
Don’t you see! They spit
on the man of Golgotha again,
I show no newer face
amid this human mash.
am the handsomest
of your sons.
who are mouldy with joy,
a time of quick death,
that children may grow,
boys into fathers,
girls – big with child.
And may new born babes
grow the hair of the magi –
and they will come anon
to baptise the infants
with the names of my poems.
I, who praised the machine and England,
I am perhaps quite simply
the thirteenth apostle
in an ordinary gospel.
And whenever my voice
rumbles bawdily –
then, from hour to hour,
around the clock,
Jesus Christ may be sniffing
the forget-me-nots of my soul.