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On the Removal of Troops from Afghanistan
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Published: Wed Apr 15 1992
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On the Removal of Troops from Afghanistan

Translated from the Russian by Forrest Gander and Sara Dickinson


Ninth year of war in Afghanistan
And I thought: I’m fed up with my silence!
No one will curse me now
For writing about it.

More likely they’ll publish me here
And over there. All sing my praises,
Except those in chain gangs
Who took the rap for speaking out first.

Both Yazov and Gromyko will know what I’m saying
(All right, not immediately, but that’s their problem),
And Sakharov and Bykov will see with me eye to eye.
Vasily Terkin and those backstreet heroes . . .
And certainly Nadzhibulla will get it right off the bat . . .

Well, maybe Prokhanov will miss the point
And, well, Rosenbaum and, say, Babrak Karmal.
Maybe twerpy Borovik! But any Afghan
Guerilla would gladly give me his medal.

At last the nightmarish starvations have ended
And we can drink vodka again.
Even those high-browed Lithuanian girls
Give us Russians their seats on the trams.

Trash the military insignias brother-pacifists!
The tanks are rolling home from the war.
And inside our country we are in dire need
Of a few specialists, some skilled mechanics.

 

Aleksandr Eremenko (1950–2021) played a leading role among Moscow’s young and experimental writers during the Soviet period. Although his work was famous in the Samizdat press starting in the mid-1970s, his first officially recognized book, Models and Situations, appeared in 1990.

Forrest Gander is the author, most recently, of the poetry collection Twice Alive (New Directions, 2021). A translator and multiple-genre writer with degrees in geology and literature, he has received, among other honors, the Pulitzer Prize, the Best Translated Book Award, and fellowships from the Library of Congress, the Guggenheim Foundation, and United States Artists. Born in the Mojave Desert, he lives in California. (10/2021)

Sara Dickinson is associate professor of Russian Literature and Culture at the University of Genoa (Italy). (10/2021)

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