About the Author

From the book Kliazma and Yauza
From the book The Wild Rose
From the book Tristan and Isolde
From the book Old Songs
From the book Gates. Windows. Arches
From the book Stanzas in the Manner of Alexander Pope
From the book Stellae and Inscriptions
From the book The Iambic Verses
The Chinese Travelogue
From An Unfinished Book  
From the book The Evening Song
From the book Elegies
From the book The Beginning of a Book
From An Unfinished Book
A Butterfly, or There Are Two of Them
In memory of Khlebnikov

Those who have lived here and those who will be alive
     and will finish building their attic,
I will not covet the bread of their greedy malice:
anything else but this.

But you also, with whom I could live,
even in the earthly timegrove,
could look at me at least with the eyes of a Scythian idol
but, I beg you, come with me!

We do not care about the spite of the day or night’s malice.
This world, like a skull, stares
fixedly into nowhere.
With a butterfly’s dust, Velimir, or with something smaller,
we were decorating the litter of the world.


A butterfly soars and in the sky
writes in the shorthand of the heights.
In the tiny millstone of the azure
and orange grain,
someone’s features will be ground
into dust.

Sweet desire is stronger
than a passionate, brute force.
Then draw quicker, quicker – I still understand –
with delicate ink, with pointless loftiness.

Inscribe three or four words somewhere,
write to someone who is there:
we are kneeling, and again,
and a hundred thousand again,
on the heavenly earth,
we lie with our face at his feet.

It is because miracles are grander than speech,
grace is better than the end,
because a butterfly soars farther in the country,
because a father has mercy on us all.

Slava I. Yastremski and Michel Naydan


A Butterfly or Two

In memory of Khlebnikov


Those who lived here and those who will
   live and build their own attic –
I do not want their avaricious bread.
Anything but that.

But you
   and you, with whom
life could be lived
even in an earthly letorasl
   though you've gazed
only with the eyes
of a Scythian baba
still, please
   come with me.

What is the malice of the day
   and of the night
to us? Skull-like, this world
faces nowhere.
Or, in short, like a butterfly, Velimir
we have painted the dust
   brightly, many coloured.


The butterfly flies even to heaven
writes with the script
   of altitude.
In the smallest mill of azure
     orange bread
someone's features grow
   finely bolder.

Dearest desire is stronger
than strength passionate
     and simple.
So, faster, faster –
I can still follow
   the tender ink
     the pointless altitudes
inscribe three or four words somewhere
write to someone
   who is there:

we are on our kness, and again
for the thousandth time
     on this heavenly earth
we lie, our faces to his feet.

Because a miracle is more magnificent than speech,
an act of mercy better than a conclusion.
Because the butterfly flies far to reach another land
because the father is mercifull.

Gregory O'Brien and Jacob Edmond

Timegrove is a neologism in the style of Khlebnikov.

Scythian idol is a reference to Khlebnikovʼs poem, “A Scythian Idol of a Woman.”

This world, like a skull, stares fixedly into nowhere and With a butterflyʼs dust… are images from Khlebnikovʼs poems.
 A Butterfly, or There Are Two of Them
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