Эпиграф 1999
Translated by Larisa Schultz © 2009


Hard's  the head of an ox, you bet. Fine's the mind of an elephant.
But my head seems to be unfit for any effort of any kind.

Squeeze it hard, rub it any way — dim it stays, be it night or day. 
Nothing but some uncertain rustling — five times seven or nine times eight.

Doesn't care what goes on elsewhere.  Doesn't need any Christmas snow.
There is nothing the head would look at. Only supper can make it go.

Have some corn or a cabbage head and propel myself onto bed.
And get lost, my career, forever. Cupid, lock up your darts, I said.     

Floors a mess — I could not care less. May the boss wait for my reports.
Let a record, like some street-organ, wheeze next door: neither notes, nor words.

Going out by an icy route for a kilo of halva spread,
why not drop by the nearest drug-store for a fix for my wretched head. 

Hey there, druggists, it's me — knock-knock! Get me out of your great rich stock
nineteen roundest and finest tablets, or one noose and a good strong hook.

On a horse hurry, Santa-Claus, from an amateur drama course. 
Wake me up with a loud firecracker, lift hypnosis by magic force. 

Up I'll get and away I'll jet. To, for instance, Kalimantan.
There I'll sing at the coffee-houses, like some kind, say, of Yves Montand . 

In the meantime the head is dead. Five times seven or nine times eight.
And the street-organ wheezing next door, stumbling over each "fa" like mad.