Thirty-Two Days Without Alcohol

By SERHIY ZHADAN

Translated by OSTAP KIN

A good day is a day
without bad news.
Sometimes everything turns out fine—
no news,
no fiction.

Three thousand steps to the supermarket
frozen chickens
like dead stars
gleam after death.

All you need is
mineral water,
I only
need my mineral water.
Execs, like
frozen chickens,
are hatching
the eggs
of profit
in the twilight.

Three thousand steps back.
All I need to do is hold on
to my mineral water,
to hold on to
the countdown:
thirty-two days without alcohol
thirty-three days without alcohol
thirty-four days without alcohol.

Birds perch on each of my shoulders,
and the one on the left keeps repeating:
thirty-two days without alcohol
thirty-three days without alcohol
thirty-four days without alcohol.

And the one on the right responds:
twenty-eight days till a bender
twenty-seven days till a bender
twenty-six days till a bender.

And the one on the left is drinking the blood of Christ
from a silver chalice.
And the one on the right—the simpler one—
is drinking some crap,
some diet coke.

On top of that
they’re both drinking
on my tab.

 

[Purchase Issue 12 here.]

Serhiy Zhadan, Ukrainian poet, fiction writer, essayist, and translator, was born in the Luhansk region in 1974 and has published over a dozen books. In 2014 he received the Ukrainian BBC’s Book of the Decade Award; he won the Ukrainian BBC’s Book of the Year Award in 2006 and in 2010. He’s the recipient of the Hubert Burda Prize for Young Poets (Austria, 2006) and the Jan Michalski Prize for Literature (Switzerland, 2014).

Ostap Kin has published work in St. Petersburg Review and Krytyka Magazine. He lives in New York City.

Thirty-Two Days Without Alcohol

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