[Don’t whine, just eat your soup]

Jamie L. Olson translating Irina Yevsa from the Russian

click here for the Russian text

Don’t whine, just eat your soup. Winter hangs
by a hair. A muddy March slid down the rails
and strained its muscles in a resolute clench
as grave as Japanese nostalgia for the Kurils.
Divine barbiturates drip from the boughs;
in country cellars, the preserves have been flooded.
But the morning screeches with a parliament of crows
who couldn’t care less about the people’s troubles.
A multistoried monster looks out from under
its swollen eyelids—sleepy still, but shakes it
off. The place houses more souls than the landlord
allows: bums in the attic, rats in the basement.
Yet you’re here too, drug-smuggler of the blues,
dropping a tear into your piping-hot soup.
What if we all decided, within our holes,
to crawl out into the light, a ragtag group,
swelling like yeasted dough, bursting eardrums,
fed up with the lies of the imperial jester,
since (as one rebellious spirit asked us)
what else does a hell-dweller have to fear?

Jamie L. Olson teaches in the English Department at Saint Martin’s University, just outside of Olympia, Washington. His translations from Russian have recently appeared in Cardinal Points, Chtenia, Crab Creek Review, and Ozone Park Journal. He writes about poetry, translation, and Russian culture on his site The Flaxen Wave.

Irina Yevsa is a poet and translator who lives in Kharkov, Ukraine. She is the author of eight poetry collections, and her poems have appeared in many Ukranian and Russian literary journals, not to mention several anthologies. Besides contemporary Ukranian, Polish, and Armenian poets, Yevsa has translated Sappho, Pythagoras, and Omar Khayyam into Russian. She co-edited the anthology Wild Field: Poems by Russian Poets in Ukraine at the End of the 20th Century (2000). The Ukranian poet and critic Slanislav Minakov writes, “Yevsa organically combines tradition with the achievements of contemporary poetry; picturesqueness and sound exist in her work not to the detriment of depth. Indeed, her poems are not games, deception, or magic that become reality, but reality itself.”