Two Poems

It may well be, behind your back – one need only look back –

No phyto-mass (Heartwood. And the foliage with its autumn

Complement of carotenoids.)

Rather, the cinnabars, ochres, umbers,

The overlapping shades of chrome’s oxides,

But it may well yet come to be – only the stump above which

The tree trunk’s phantom limb pulses in and out of view

And the canopy that casts no shadow.






Возможно, за спиной — лишь оглянуться —
Не фитомасса (Древесина. И листва с осенним
Преобладанием каротиноидов.),
А киновари, охры, умбры,
Перекрывающие окись хрома,
Но может статься,— только пень, маячит над которым
Фантомный ствол,
И крона не отбрасывает тени.







Out of the crimson dawn one third the size of an icon’s

Overlay, the Winter Wolf, departing along a white path

(The wolf bitch, the wintering wolf, the litter

and old wolf) for a spell into the pine forest –

And halfway back into his trek,

His eyes of surplus lupine satedness

Not yet pecked out by the ravens,

And pupils unable to squint at sunrise.






От кумачовой в треть оклада
Зари уходит белою тропою зимний волк
(Волчица, пара переярых, прибылые
И матерой.) на дневку в ельник, —
Тому назад с полперехода
Глазам избытка волчьей сыти,
Еще не выклеванным вороньем,
Зрачков не сузить на рассвет.






Mikhail Eremin (b. 1936, in the Caucasus) participated in one of the first unofficial post-war poetry groups, the so-called “philological school” of the late 1950s. His books, Poems (1–6), were published by Pushkinskii Fond. Joseph Brodsky wrote this of him: “Eremin is an unreconstructed minimalist. Poetry in essence consists precisely in the concentration of language: a small quantity of lines surrounded by a mass of empty space. Eremin elevates this concentration to a principle: as though it is not simply language but poetry itself that crystallizes into verse . . . Most remarkable is that all of it has been written for oneself, out of one’s own conception of the mother tongue. Eremin’s poetry may rightfully be called Futurist in the sense that, to this type of poetry, the future belongs.” His Selected Poems is available in the English translation of J. Kates. A selection of five poems in Alex Cigale’s translation appeared recently in Asymptote.


Alex Cigale is a poet and translator. His own poems in English appear in Colorado Review, The Common Online, and The Literary Review, and his translations in Kenyon Review Online, Modern Poetry in Translation, New England Review, PEN America, TriQuarterly, and World Literature in Translation. In 2015, he was awarded an NEA Literary Translation Fellowship for his work on Mikhail Eremin, and he guest-edited the Spring 2015 Russia Issue of the Atlanta Review, writing about it in Best American Poetry. His first book, Russian Absurd: Daniil Kharms, Selected Writings, is forthcoming in the Northwestern University Press World Classics series in February 2017. He has previously contributed translations to Plume, as well as an interview with Plume’s editor Daniel Lawless to the Asymptote blog.


Issue #63 October 2016
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