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Language Wrecker

by Galina Rymbu
Translated from Russian by
Joan Brooks


we live in a dark world
pressing toward others through thin cracks
through crooked pipes we flow back
into the dolorous lake.


solitude inside, lying and licking




a language wrecker
laboring nearby
the murk of order has no bottom.


loud fingers click, like a lock
on the wasteland of your head, holding back
in the cool basin of night.


a child
moves along the wall,
state property, where time flows like mud
in bad weather… flows, flows…
you’re still hanging around the human… before you go
sit down with me for a second in the forced folds of the morning,
in the baked blanket, like the fat lips of war.


you lie there alone in shabby comfort,
hiding your head from an invisible blow—


the wrecking bar labors methodically,
gouging gnarled holes in your fear—
love can do this, so sublimely
it would seem…


questions of collaboration.
a cross of flame. death
cooks up some soup where it all gave out.




a lusterless friend appeared on the threshold,
like an anachronism,
I don’t know what to do with him
and under lock and key the struggle
found some way to adapt.




over time nothing comes out—
only the body hardens.
think of it like you’re dragging a tin can
over to a friend’s place, out onto the square, dragging it, like someone else
soft militant talking too much
fuck knows what




on the fence of the empire they write: “basically everything’s allowed”
the left party has again come to power in the USA
say vegetables from the fire,
pouring hot juices onto deep sleep:
rise, militant, if you want to eat
militant, rise
whoever you are




war philosopher war philosopher
I am a war philosopher of peace, like the lotus,
I am a war philosopher of peoples past
I am the philosopher of unseeing white plants,
of shell shucker-fucker consciousness, of bruised stones,
of ecological performance artists,
like borders, like memory.
I don’t know what you’re talking about,
what happened, who lay with whom in my book of war,
the world map no longer functions in my book of war.
read my book whoever you are read it
buy it if you can, militant
you know where.




some uncanny bug like in childhood crawls across the plain
everything is big and surprising… so important…



let’s go to the shop.
across the wasteland.


teenagers shout at my father: “black-ass!”



a child swollen from the light.
in the school cafeteria.
a feast of insects.



I can still see through the crack: in this cellar
met leaders of states.



onto the sleep-grille—the grille of language: the language of history.
onto the love-grille marriage lays its grille, and the child-grille burns on the grille of time.
the speech-grille brings politics to an end.
in grilled off spaces anonymous; code in the hole-grille is drilling.
where’s the hatch?
where’s the way out?


why have you squeezed yourself into the concentrated space
of verse



no time for loss.
desire calls us to the final muster
without boots, without a passport
along the barrel, along the mountain
in the shade inside
you go—everything is ok now,
dumb wrecker.


schools of thought like rotting animal skins descanting in the darkness…


beyond this enmity
light awaited us.

Galina Rymbu was born in 1990 in the city of Omsk (Siberia, Russia) and lives in Lviv, Ukraine. She edits F-Pis’mo, an online magazine for feminist literature and theory, and has published three books of poems in Russia. Her poetry has been translated into thirteen languages and stand-alone collections of her work have been published in Latvian, Dutch, Swedish, and Romanian. Life in Space (UDP, 2020) is her first full-length collection in English translation. (Photo credit: Yanis Sinaiko)
Joan Brooks is a writer and translator based in Pittsburgh, PA. Their interests include autoethnography, queer-communism, and the russophone world. They have translated a broad range of contemporary russophone authors, particularly leftist and queer-feminist poets, publishing in a variety of print and online journals and on their translation blog: