Vasyl Makhno







                                      Tell me, who are they, these pilgrims,

                                      Maybe they are runaways, pursued even more than we are




Who on earth was it that drove out beyond the hill of green light

endowed them with an insatiable desire to devour time

together with reddened birds

who circle above them but do not dare get closer


What’s their offence that their life spent in wandering

is remembered by the faded hours and plants ?

The past century has been turned upside-down like a wine-glass on the table

and time flows out right by our eyes


The thickets of earthly expanse around us

and the golden locks of the autumnal ground

cannot be told apart from the locks of spilled darkness.

And we put on the garments of birds.


Having hidden the pilgrims in the bosom of the hill

the signs of the birds let us fly

toward the scent of  a land which even the elders among us didn’t know

and not a single bird ever saw.


A yellow shadow of light falls upon the thousands of bodies

In a torrent of solitude and fatigue

The movement of Divine inspiration lights up the way for us

With our eyes closed we find the promised land.


We, dressed in garments of birds, can only observe

The streams of air which hang above our heads…

And times are like objects scattered all over the house

They grind our conscience as if it were a stone.





Saint-John Perse’s Ocean


                                                                For Vitalii Haida


Saint-John Perse’s Ocean is the intention of dark lines

which have woven together into a hieroglyph of the name

of the river that flows into the pit of loneliness


the moon’s thin horn has been chopped up by the waves

into silver needles into fish scales it shimmers

with painful light resembling the glitter of foil


autumn leaves stick to the body of a grass-snake

and crawl away with it into memory’s burrow, leaving

the motherland-tree and sister ant to the gusts of wind


in the air – a piercing madness like an incision

bleeds bitter smoke and humid light

cobwebs ring with a high-pitched sound of broken glass


where dark light flows – and in the depths

of water’s velvet scroll cascades in a gold satin-stitch

and fish skeletons cover this random embroidery


this  is the mystery of the heart’s cut root-seaweed

a sea-urchin bush-white when touched –

it shyly sniffs darkness and turns into it


and the brittle sugar of fog sticks like lime

to the seashore Asian blood reminds you

of an expanse an eye-circle cannot encompass


words which the tongue can’t fling into dance

their transparent cloth-coarse and black olives

the wasp’s ornament you can’t reproduce and can’t remember


dark nighttime water shines with seashells and starfish

shimmers with pearl  and fades in the tar of air

thickens like zebra’s skin on ribbed waves


stillness wraps the lines in the golden foil of  a cocoon

the form of rounded time traced in ink

a circle of consciousness – white like the thread of a web –


the spiders of time and the mice of time – signs of existence

are covered by the moss of none – being they glare with green eye

swallow our thoughts and salivate over our shadows


the ocean is all around us- the hieroglyph of  its name

who’ll  be the first to soak their feet and walk on water ?

and only a died out candle like a finger shows the wind’s direction








                                                For Ivan Drach


Like a heavy door – you close the Millennium

the snow of the past flies after us

like stones. And only the hills and the foxes


are unmoving and warm, like the rain.

An empty tree gives us a ring the line

of  its shadow – the crumbled glass of a sound –


and the earthly fruits scented by a fox grow bitterer

is it indeed river? And the air’s black silk

tears where angels fly


ask no one – we shall close their lips with lock and key

no one will see them – and no one will hear

the flute of a voice resembling a lark song


for they have dissolved into white mist, into the milk of air

chase a shadow and observe the plum blossom

compose your songs whose every sound is a well of sorrow


the lines of letters are golden threads of light, and the yarn

of the pine forest. The river darkens, heard from the suburbs,

and last night’s doubt solidifies in a stone garden


tell no one – for it’s growing dark and the flame of a lantern

half-illuminates you a fox and earthly fruits

and from afar a river dins as heavy as a skirt


the stones fly after them the plum blossom

sticks to the lips you spit it out and do not understand

why trere is so much of it in the stone garden of solitude



Translated by author, Richard Burns, and Vitaly Chernetsky






Fine like a stick-figure drawing.

A villager from a northern province

draws hieroglyphics


of silver trout swimming

through an open window

and through thick rustling grass

that cuts the sense of

the writing.


All his life he learned to join these lines

and only today

are the words illegible.


Maybe it’s the name of a river

or a stitch of light that has no name.


And that is when the picture opens up

like the mark of a white lotus.




Elegy of water


Every rainbow drinks water – and fish fly in the wind.

Deep oceans of the world – black hole – dust of thought –

fish slip from our hands – in return for five loaves of breads,

in return for a sorrowful glance pale as a bleached sail.


Fishermen arrive at boats overturned like turtles

who murmur about the old days: plink of water –

damp scent, freckles of salt – hideous jellyfish

stains cover the shore.


The boats are creaking – the wind dries their ribs

and green nets – not trees – sway in the shadows.



Private history


“ And some people traveled to the north

and others to the south

and they avoided each other for a thousand years.

Only those who went ahead –

left behind towns and villages,

graves and broken dishes –

and those were late

gathered the leftover silence”.


I once read this in a book

with silver edges

and a clasp that lock with a key.


You so don’t understand to which tribe

you belong.


Remember the thousand-year drought

you started?

One tribe returned to the north

and the other to the south -

all that was left sandy water.


Are you remembered these dark words.

And you hear – the dull neighing

of frightened horses.







see little houses – peasants – after harvest

a warm spring – planted in the stove of a house of

crickets-some ragged song –

a battle flag.



loosen their awareness –

release their strangeness – read the light –

breathe in the wormwood.



know everything is fixed – and everyone –

everyone lays side like straw in the wooden cart.



know clay and sand – burning wind -

and how to move from water to earth,


and everything to take along:

a flag, a song, a handful of seeds.


All the rest – just a shadow of sorrow

that falls from each word

you read here – my reader -



At a bar called Gösser


After my third beer,

smoke rings all around

a long-haired sculptor,

complains about the golden shadows of women.


Rivers of talk foam and creep

around this glassy shore,

flow in golden drops

on this dirty table.


There are certain voices I remember.

A torso lean as an orchard in spring

with smells of humid darkness,

sticky blood of pines,

every man’s home,

bodies of desirable women.


That woman standing in the window

swaying in the foam of my bitter beer:

Aphrodite of the tavern.


Has it already come back?

: the warm words

: the bitter beer

: the rough lines of that horrible body?







For a long time you prepared, as if in Odysseus’s crew

- you devoted days to -

- thriftily written words –

that could be scratched out on the ship’s mast.


A long voyage – a hexameter long

with which you traced the wooden boat’s outline –


but the crew didn’t listen

to your orders – your rules

couldn’t suit their desires.


It’s possible

to talk about poetry in a snowstorm

with a group of friends for a long time,

without knowing what to call it,

without knowing – for that matter – where it goes.


                                Translated by Kristina Lucenko






you foresaw beyond the hills of a dream

a different life – an outlined semi-circle

and the tinted echo of scents

a lemon moon like a school lines

that now measure off for winter

the aging of death time and expiring

in green light cooper turned black

lives with us through the ruin of time

between the forewarning and number of hours

wine and half a loaf of bread cast shadows of the last day

on the page and the numb Div

a hundred-eyed hundred-winged

will not change his dual nature and you will leave

to seek with your gaze the river, the hill of stone

at what time do you think mouse-like

to continue dreaming in dreams?

and the guests who live beyond the hill

grew overgrown with moss like ancient echoes

and your dreams suppress your straying

and the rustling of the epoch either grass or corn sprouts

on the hills which you won’t circumvent

and the sound to sound – of metal berries

you collect the paper you gash the chaos

and the murkiness of night and a stalk of strength

is already attenuating like the contours of hills

already fewer words remained for your lips to sculpt

the beginning of a book that was written from the half-

shadow of snow and the undersurface of a woodcarving



                                           Translated by Michael M. Naydan



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