CARDINAL POINTS: THE CURRENT ISSUE
Timur Kibirov
FIVE POEMS
Translated from Russian by Jamie Olson
'Timur Kibirov: Faithful or Sceptic?' by Jamie Olson  Print versionSTOSVET PUBLISHING HOUSE
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Timur Kibirov
   Timur Kibirov. Photo by Igor Sid

* * *


The Lord that they've got — He'll bowl you over!
It's true: He's really a genuine hero!
Fearless and firm, He leads a host
of true believers into mortal combat!
And He holds overhead a half-moon sword,
          and His horse careens like an arrow!
But our Lord, son, just take a look:
ours rides a donkey — clippity clop —
          straight towards His own death.

But that Lord there — He'll bowl you over!
Just look how He grants His disciples calm,
He grants and then basks in eternal calm
amid all this earthly tumult!
With a wave of His hand at carnal passions,
He looms in silence in a lotus pose,
          illumined by holy blankness.
But our Lord, son, I hate to say it,
ours rides a donkey — clippity clop —
          straight towards His own death.

But this Lord here — He's the grandest of all!
He's truly the One who rules the world!
This life, this age, this brain in your skull
          have long been under His heel.
Around His throne in a joyful rabble,
"Eván, Evoé!" the human race whirls.
          And perhaps you and I will as well.

But our Lord, son — now don't cry, come on —
ours rides a donkey — clippity clop —
          straight towards His own death.
He advances to meet His terrible death,
straight towards your death and straight towards mine!
But don't cry, for death won't slip out of His grasp —
          it's got nowhere to hide!



Text-Message Conversation


— ЕThanks, I'm very flattered.
But I'm afraid the poems I'm writing now
will disappoint you.
They're very Orthodox.
And you're a famous infidel. (smiley face)

— Not true. I'm a Deist.
And when pressed,
I can remember "Our Father" on the spot,
or even Pushkin's "Anchorites." (smiley face)

— Good for you! (smiley face)
But anyway being a Deist means being an infidel.
Robespierre, for example.

— Mm-hmm. And Wallenberg.

— Uh-huh, and Hitler.
You can heap up as many examples as you like!
Still, the issue is the morality of the Creator,
not His creatures.
To believe in a God
who was "crucified for us under Pontius Pilate"
is practically impossible.
But you can love Him.
And an uncrucified God,
your so-called Supreme Mind,
upon closer examination
turns out to be a cruel and cynical tyrant.
As for me, an honest
Captain of the Guard, I'd rather
join the rebellion
with Lord Byron. (smiley face)

— This is a pointless argument.

— Your Deism has a host of causes,
while Theism's just a blankness!
Yet through that gloomy swarm of causes
the light sometimes enchants us!

A single, distant point of flame,
the bush will never burn away!
(smiley face)



Ballad


And so what, after all, that long, long ago
        He forsook his kingdom, his home?
A pretender seized the timeworn throne
                So long, long ago.
                For all that, though,
        He'll come back — my glorious King!
He'll come back, of course. He promised He would.
                And He'd never leave me here alone!

And so what, after all, that long, long ago
        We got used to living without Him?
His knights sought battles and fell as martyrs
                So long, long ago.
                For all that, though,
        He'll come back — my glorious King!
He'll come back, of course. He promised He would.
                And He'd never leave me here alone!

And so what, after all, that long, long ago
        I betrayed my king, my sovereign?
And home has disgusted me since that moment
                So long, long ago.
                For all that, though,
        He'll come back — my glorious King!
He'll come back, He will! He promised He would.
                And He'd never leave me here alone!



Dog


1.
The hermit priest called Father Ksafius once said:
"A dog is worth far more than any man I've met.
At least, the flea-infested monastery cur
wagging his tail over there by the kennel is worth
a hundred times more than me, for his life is ruled by
steadfast love for his master. O dear Lord, if only
I could be compared to him, if only I were worthy!"

2.
And C. S. Lewis, when he likened Adam's race
to sons of bitches, showed no mercy to any of us.
In his pamphlet on the psalms he writes that mortal
attempts to comprehend God's work are little more than
the thoughts of the retriever nearby who wonders, "What
could Lewis possibly be doing now, instead
of rising from his desk to take me for a walk?"

3.
Forsooth, my Lord! Forsooth! My dear, departed Tom
reminded me so vividly of myself the time
he unaccountably acted up, pretending not
to hear the command I'd given him, and off he went
after a bitch in heat, raving and frisky besides!
But if this metaphor happens to offend your pride,
if it insults you, then you must be a thousand times

4.
more stupid than stupid pups and meaner than vicious mutts!
Not even our kind canine expert can save your hide.
And since I'm a son-of-a-bitch, I'm ready to set all reason
and restraint aside — to rage and gnarl at the Red Beast, at
the brood of vipers, even if it turns out I'm
the last pug left; I'll bark and shriek at all of them,
and at that moment — my God! — I'll tuck my tail in shame.



Theodicy


Ivan Karamazov, his ticket returned,
departed at death for the other world.

Vanya directly went down to Hell, but
his old friend didn't give much of a welcome.

The devil then made the state of things clear:
"Unfortunately, there's no place for you here.

I'd gladly have taught you to turn up your nose,
but you are not bidden to stay here with us.

Quel scandale, Ivan Fyodorych, quelle surprise!
An atheist bound for Paradise, indeed!"

So the angels bore him to God in heaven,
where Saint Peter said: "Come in, already!"

But flashing the lenses of his small pince-nez,
Karamazov replied: "Allow me, please,

to decide for myself where I should go!
I'm repulsed at entering this blissful abode,

when down there on Earth it's all pain and distress,
when they're dying in fear, in fire, in shit.

Adults, that's one thing, but children! Why?!
How can you look at them, Jesus Christ?

How can you sit here and simply ignore us?!"
But Mary Magdalene could take no more, so

she screamed: "Have you gone completely insane?!
Who are you talking to?! How could you dare?!

Do you not understand a single thing?!
Your hands are unmarked, but look at His!"

And it took a long time before the One
who had died for Vanya could calm her down.


Translated from Russian by Jamie Olson           



© Copyright: Translation by Jamie Olson
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