A Frozen-Silent Resident

Four poems

Frantisek Kupka, Two grays I, 1928. Courtesy WikiArt.

Two grays I by Frantisek Kupka, 1928

god is best
feared almost
with the heart

and in me sleep engulfs
your name

over there a frozen-silent resident
tunes up musical mortality
struggles by loud naming to put an end
at the juncture of sky and bird
and under the tongue the fine silver of volition

with every passing day


look the sky is singing
but nobody is stopping by
we conduct conversation aslant
listening in the morning
to volleys of ourselves

this is what it’s like when
happiness wants in
the sleepy paint roller of fate
covers us in a single sweep

so many bottomless days
one on one
the nights we sleep away
not dry wine
nor apples do we see

, and where are we to?
fall tomorrow
and rise
with new love
and strength to spoon out


a jump
to the side

seizes splashes spawned
by the reflection
of the water
‘s face

flares up
in curls of pain
with the current
of noise and joy
from time past

against stone thresholds
memory retains
the even white
protraction of the moment


on the eighth day
of the third month standing there
I drift off in my sleep
speak stumbling
against the corner of the next building
look back and nothing on that street
knows me
except the tree
but even it talks past me
the snow wants in
and I can’t recognize blue circles under his eyes
the darkness at my right hand will not be imposed
in a day nor installed nor forgotten
it will crawl to the bed
bury itself in sheets and cry

Translated from the Russian by Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler.

ALEX AVERBUCH, a native of Novoaidar, Luhans’k region, Ukraine (b. 1985), is a bilingual (Ukrainian/Russian) poet, translator, and literary scholar. His poetry, both original and translated, has been published in various literary journals and anthologies. He is the author of two books of poetry and an array of literary translations between Hebrew, Russian, Ukrainian, and English. He has organized numerous poetic performances and festivals (most recently, the International Festival of Contemporary Ukrainian Poetry, summer 2020). His poetry deals with the issues of ethnic fragmentation and in-betweenness, multiple identities, queerness, cross- and multilingualism, documentalist writing, and memory.