Andrei Voznesensky
translated by Anselm Hollo
from Red Cats



The Big Fire at the Architectural College


There's a fire
in the Architectural!
Those halls!
Those drawings all
on fire! like letters of amnesty
on fire! on fire!

Like a red-ass gorilla
up there on the sleepy façade—
the window,
uncoiling, roaring
to fight—to open
on fire!

We've been studying
for our finals, yes
it's time to defend our thesis!
My pronouncements already crackling
in the sealed

Like a huge bottle
of kerosene—
five summers, five winters
swoosh up in flames
O my sweet Karen,
O we're on fire!

The little notes
for cheating at tests, the parties
all gone, going-gone, up up
in these flames—
there you stand, pink
                                    in the blueberry patch—
goodbye, goodbye!

Farewell Architecture!
Farewell in flames
you cowsheds with little Cupids
you Savings Banks in baroque!
O youth O Phoenix

O stupid, on fire
is your final certificate!
O youth you're waggling your ass
in a red skirt, O youth
you're wagging your tongue—

Farewell, time of boundary
measurements! This is life
—moving on from one burning lot
to another—we're all
on fire, you live—
                              you're on fire!

What winches, what mainstays
will be born in this fire—
to run across
the sheets of Whatman's Paper
like the first tracks
of ski?

But tomorrow, twittering
like an evil bird
and angrier than a hornet
the pair of compasses will be found
in a handful of ashes, and
sting . . .

Everything's burnt down now,
draw a real deep breath.
Everything over?
                             Everything's started!
Now, let's go see
that movie.