Five Poems by Anzhelina Polonskaya

by  translated by Andrew Wachtel  /  June 1, 2016  / 1 Comment

Image by Dmitry Evtushenko. Used with the artist's permission. Rights reserved.

Image by Dmitry Evtushenko. Used with the artist’s permission. Rights reserved.

  1. Anzhelina Polonskaya
  2. Russian writer Anzhelina Polonskaya is the author of eight poetry collections and one short story collection, published between 1994 and 2013. Her work has been shortlisted for the 2005 Corneliu Popescue Prize for European Poetry in Translation, the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and the 2014 Best Translated Book Award. She is a member of the Moscow Union of Writers and the Russian PEN Centre. She was forced to flee her country after Russian nationalists attacked her for her poetic contribution to an oratorio requiem for the KURSK submarine disaster, a taboo subject in Russia. Anzhelina Polonskaya is the current ICORN writer-in-residence of the City of Refuge in Frankfurt, Germany.


Fascism rules your land.
Handcuffs, and lies piled on lies.
Your stepfather has gone. Following your father.
Where they will never meet.

Your friend, like a gypsy, led you away,
to bring you back, filled with emptiness.
A passerby turned the burning bush to ash.
An asylum far too small
for the refugees seeking shelter.

Oh, Lord. Ye, who does not give anyone
a burden too heavy to bear,
take off your halo for a while
and understand, like the Samaritan, peer out

from the fragile mix – flesh and soul,
and see what your creation looks like
when you are on the same level.


The rain rustles – it’s October in June.
It’s been ages since I stood by the sea and saw the ship.
The drawbridges you’ve been admiring since the morning
won’t open.
The flames won’t stream, the moon won’t turn red.

The screaming spasm of being
has beaten down everything.
There’s no one who could take away the past
with a new spasm.
You’re hunched into your skin
as if you’ve become an infant again.

There are two seasons: winter and winter.
Only black and white have rights.
It’s louder and louder, but the beast with the buckshot
in the round pupil of planet earth is absent.


The rains have come. All the time, nothing but rain.
In the trenches men scream.
Their cheesecloth faces are so thin
that the breeze lifts and drops the cheesecloth.
Look over there, oh my god, better not look!
Mercy is indifferent,
and life’s no longer a gift,
but damn,
how lonely humans are –
they create and right away they crucify.
And they all scream – a single force,
and then beg to return to the clay
where emptiness is cracked by drought.


Don’t speak. And I won’t either. There’s nothing to say.
Silence will help us understand the boats
unable to lift their masts from the sea floor – it will light up the depths.

Silence! How it beats in the ribcage,
pulsing through the temples as if someone was wailing,
locked up tight inside.

Don’t stand in the way, swear to be a rock,
pretend you’ve been killed.
And insist on your own road.


All night I dreamed I was bleeding.
I was covered in blood, that’s how thickly it flowed.
My words, which couldn’t divine life’s course,
are tired.

How fresh the day is, clearer than a stream.
The rock is deaf, the paper cold.
Alone, you change the sheets,
not pushing me away.

Read these poems in Russian.

One Comment on "Five Poems by Anzhelina Polonskaya"

  1. D June 8, 2016 at 3:04 pm ·

    So honest work1

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