After victory — the era of postwar executions


После победы – эпоха казней послевоенных.

Скоротечные заседания и решения трибуналов.

Необходимо уменьшить поголовье военнопленных.

Не кормить же в тюрьме побежденных вражеских генералов!


Тем более, что у каждого руки в крови по локоть.

И сохранились приказы, что они отдавали солдатам

Ибо страсть к убийству – та же сексуальная похоть.

Начнешь и не остановишься, и хотелось бы – да куда там!


И теперь вверх по лесенкам, руки связаны за спиною,

в сопровождении пасторов, или ксендзов – если католик,

и- мешок на голову, петлю на шею, умирай со своею виною,

через семьдесят лет в ютубе выложат ролик.


Пять минут и живой человек теперь уже мертвое тело.

Еще пять минут и гроб уже заколочен.

Жалеть военных преступников – это последнее дело.

Была бы веревка прочна или выстрел точен.


Все дело теперь в палаче и его сноровке.

Лишение жизни дешевле, чем лишенье свободы.

И вся справедливость мира в пуле или веревке.

А другой справедливости нет в послевоенные годы.



Translated from Russian by Alex Cigale



After victory – the era of postwar executions.

Rapid-fire hearings and sentencing tribunals.

Key is to lessen the guilt of the war prisoners.

No sense in feeding the heads of enemy generals!


Even more so since each has blood on his hands.

We have their orders to the soldiers down on paper.

For the lust to murder is the same as sexual filth.

Once you start there’s no stopping, try as you might.


Up the ladder with you now, hands tied behind your back,

accompanied by the ministers, or minor priests if a Catholic,

a sack over your head, noose on neck, die with your guilt,

in another 70 years they’ll post a vid of it on YouTube.


Just five minutes and the living man’s now a dead body.

Another five minutes and the coffin lid’s now nailed down.

To pity war criminals is the last item on the agenda.

May only the rope hold out and the shot be with precision.


Everything’s now in the executioner hands, in his skill.

Taking life is cheaper than depriving them of freedom.

And all this world’s justice is in a cord or a bullet.

There is no other justice in our postwar world.




страна приветствует оккупантов как говорится хлеб соль

овощные блюда кабачки томаты фасоль

ошметки плоти свиной центральный проспект длиной

в пять километров ведущий в обещанный мир иной

дети первыми учат слова на таинственном языке

говорят на чудовищной смеси родителям не понять

вышел приказ строить дома исключительно на песке

и строят все выше и выше взгляд не поднять

потому что верхушки зданий теряются в облаках

старцы мобилизованы и служат в небесных полках

в общем жизнь будет счастливой по крайней мере до той поры

пока оккупанты не провалятся в тартарары

пока военная техника не заржавеет на пустырях

пока не вымрут подростки с серьгами в ушах и ноздрях

родина мать виновата сама воспитала нерях

и стоит одна одинешенька до скончания дней

а буханка окаменела и пустая солонка на ней





The nation welcomes occupants with as they say bread and salt

various vegetable dishes squashes beans tomatoes

scraps of pig flesh the central avenue five kilometers

in length leading to that other promised world

the children are first to learn the words of the secret language

speak an abominable pidgin incomprehensible to parents

a decree was issued to build houses on sand only

and they build them all the time higher can’t crane your neck

enough the roofs of the buildings are lost in the clouds

the elders were mobilized and serve in heavenly squadrons

all things considered life will be peaches and cream at least

as long as the occupants are not cast down into Hades

while the military hardware isn’t rusting on dumping grounds

until the adolescents with ear and nose piercings don’t die out

the motherland herself is to blame raising them without scruples

and a spinster stands off by herself alone till the end of days

the loaf of bread turned to stone on it the empty salt shaker




Boris Khersonsky (Борис Херсонский) was born in 1950 in Chernovtsy, Ukraine. He graduated from the Odessa Medical Institute and is the head of the Institute for Clinical Psychology of the University of Odessa. Khersonsky’s first poems were first published in France, Germany and the U.S.; in his own country, however, he could only start publishing officially after the end of the USSR. In the seventies and eighties, the poet was one of the most prominent figures of the Samizdat-movement in Odessa. His book Semeiny arhiv (Family Archive) was shortlisted for the Andrei Bely prize in 2007. He is a two time winner of the international Voloshin Poetry Contest (2006 and 2007) and laureate of Kievskie Lavry Poetry Festival (2008). Also in 2008, he was awarded the Anthologia Prize from Novy Mir magazine and a Joseph Brodsky Foundation Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome.




Alex Cigale’s English language poems have appeared in Colorado Review, The Common Online, and The Literary Review, and his translations in Harvard Review Online, Kenyon Review Online, The Hopkins Review, New England Review, PEN America, TriQuarterly, World Literature Today, and elsewhere. A 2015 NEA Literary Translation Fellow for his work on the poet Mikhail Eremin, he edited the Spring 2015 Russia Issue of Atlanta Review and is Plume‘s Contributing Editor for Translation. His first full book, Russian Absurd: Daniil Kharms, Selected Writings is just out in Northwestern University Press’s World Classics series. He has previously contributed translations from the Russian to Plume of Shamshad Abdullaev, Genady Aygi, Alexander Ulanov, Amarsana Ulzytuev, and Mikhail Eremin.


Issue #68 March 2017
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