Bir sum, bir som, bir manat

They brandish sabers and dig themselves trenches in the Caucasus,
they stride out on the balcony half-naked to admire the sunset,
they are lermontovs duelling on mount mashuks
and putins trading rubles for soms and manats,
they are an endless mishmash of Dostoevsky and ant, fancying themselves the universe’s biggest riddle,
they are a plague posing as a wacky mixup and a joke,
they are you, they are them, they are all of you, and — may you croak, you reptiles

Source: Yuri Leiderman, Facebook, 30 May 2022. Thanks to him for his kind permission to translate and publish his poem, which he says was inspired by this Facebook post, an “explainer” for Russians traveling to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, to secure non-Russian bank cards (and thus be able to pay for services outside of Russia, whose payments and bank system has mostly been severed from the rest of the world). The author includes recommendations for “cultural fun” along with detailed advice on how to secure the desiderata. Images courtesy of Wikipedia. A commenter (on Mr. Leiderman’s Facebook page) wrote that the explainer “reeked of cannibalism.” Translated by the Russian Reader

Yuri Leiderman: The Black General

Yuri Leiderman
Facebook
September 29, 2021

“The Black General”
I arrived in the city of Heraklion and checked into the hotel. I turned on the TV while I got settled in. On TV5Monde, a group of intellectuals in well-chosen nonchalant jackets was discussing Rimbaud, Kafka and Gallimard’s new releases.

I should have been like them, I thought enviously.

I could have become like them, I thought, horrified.

There is no Pinochet to reign them in,
No Black Colonel,
No Black General,
I thought with a grin.

So I am the very last Black General, overgrown and useless and grassy, I thought without much emotion, after appending hands, palms, and wrists, like claws, like threads, to the seams.

Translated and reproduced here with the artist’s kind permission by the Russian Reader

Yuri Leiderman: The Brontosaurus Is You

Entering the line. Each line has its own thickness, its own tightness, torsion, shagginess. That’s right, every line is a minge. When you enter the line, it is no longer there, you don’t see what it is meant to to represent, but you look out of it into the world, as from a window. There are lines from which it is especially convenient to do this — the wrinkles on the forehead, the creases running from the nose to the lips, the eyebrows.

Each painted face is a moving system of windows from which you look out into the world. A kind of brontosaurus, hung with windows. The brontosaurus — the crawling, peering, quivering asshole — is you. The brontosaurus’s evolution is your nausea. The death of the brontosaurus is your destiny.

But for now throw yellow on blue, and in such a way that the green… Not on your life!

Translated by the Russian Reader

Yuri Leiderman: This Is Trotsky’s Tribe and Udder

Yuri Leiderman
Facebook
March 26, 2021

This is Trotsky’s tribe and udder,
this is the universe shedding tears in armillaria.
As you lift, so you go,
whether you’re Lenin or Soloukhin.
Humanity is evidence that the stars are rat finks,
even the Lord knows that.

Tiny paroxysms flit across the face of Ahab-cum-Trotsky, Isaac aka Allotment, tiny fistulas, springs-and-wells, the Danube shallow, the Dniester shoaled. That crapper in the Udmurt village, where I dropped the latch made by their grandpa. I had gone there to meet my daughter’s relatives. I had no oriental rugs in my flat, no Aladdin lamps, and I didn’t even speak Hebrew, much to their dismay. And to my own dismay, I wasn’t a carpenter.

One leap is the ocean, another leap is the ocean. One nation is a leap, and not a very long one. One street is an ice pick. Did I say street? Hell, every lighted window! And who are we? The bandage on Trotsky’s forehead, the nails Tashtego used to nail the flag. We are the Lord, his soles, his lyrniks, and kill Biljo.

Mr. Leiderman’s drawing is reproduced here with his kind permission. Translated by the Russian Reader

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The Russian Reader covers grassroots political, environmental and social movements, economic and social issues, and independent culture in Russia and the Russian-speaking world. It is not funded by no one except other readers like you. You can click the “Donate” button in the sidebar to make a donation via PayPal or go to my Ko-fi page and buy me a “coffee” or two. Otherwise, I do all work on the website for free and I do most of it myself. Unless otherwise noted, everything published on the Russian Reader can be reproduced elsewhere, so long as the Russian Reader is acknowledged as the source and a link back to the original post is included. || TRR

Yuri Leiderman: Self-Portrait with Limelights

leiderman-self-portrait with limelightsYuri LeidermanSelf-Portrait with Limelights, 2015–2018. Crayon sauce, pastel and oil on paper, 42 cm x 30 cm. Courtesy of the artist. All rights reserved

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The Russian Reader covers grassroots political, environmental and social movements, economic and social issues, and independent culture in Russia and the Russian-speaking world. It is not subsidized by anyone except my extremely generous readers, who can use the “Donate” button in the sidebar to make a donation to me via PayPal or can go to my Ko-fi page and buy me a coffee, so to speak. Otherwise, I do all work on the website for free. I pay no fees to to the periodicals and authors whose articles I translate and post on the site. Unless otherwise noted, everything I publish on the Russian Reader can be reproduced elsewhere, so long as the Russian Reader is acknowledged as the source and a link back to the original post is included in the republication. {TRR}

Yuri Leiderman: A Horse’s Story

leiderman-horse storyYuri Leiderman, A Horse’s Story, 2018. Oil, watercolor and charcoal on paper, 42 cm x 30 cm. Courtesy of the artist. All rights reserved

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The Russian Reader is a website that covers grassroots politics, social movements, the economy, and independent culture in Russia and the Russian-speaking world. It is not financed by anyone nor has it ever solicited donations. All work on the website is done for free, and no fees are paid for the articles translated into English and posted on the site. Unless otherwise noted, everything published on the Russian Reader can be reproduced elsewhere so long as the Russian Reader is indicated clearly as the source and a link back to the original post is included in the republication.