On a cold winter night in 78
he drank two liters of Russian tea,
went to Red Square before light
and wrote on snow: “Brezhnev is an idiot!”
He was my god, my hero, my model world.
I imagined him struggling with his fly
when, busted by police, he had managed
to end the sentence with an exclamation mark.
Imagine doing something like this nowadays.
Imagine a hero dressed in a short sheepskin coat
standing in the piercing wind, his pants pulled down.
“Gross!” you’ll say and will be wrong.
Sometimes truth necessitates madness, and beauty is hidden
behind obscure details. To tell you the truth,
I’m still jealous of him who shed his urine
in the imperial garden of snow and laughed in the face
of the guards. Nothing beats in my eyes
a jester, his smile full of broken teeth.
When times in the yard are full of lies,
why sing like a nightingale in the emperor’s cage?
by Katia Kapovich
from Cossacks and Bandits
Salt Publishing, London, 2008