Two Poems by Dmitry Blizniuk

North Dakota Quarterly 89.1/2 features a special section on literature in translation which includes two poems from Dmitry Blizniuk translated by Sergey Gerasimov. Blizniuk is a Ukrainian poet who lives in Kharkov. We had no idea twelve months ago when we accepted these poems for translation that he would be surviving in a city besieged by the Russian army. 

We’re publishing below two of his poems which will appear in the forthcoming volume as a gesture of support and as a modest contribution to the global chorus condemning not just this war, but war in general. Bliznuik’s poem “May I?” takes on a more sinister inflection than the poet intended when set against the backdrop of contemporary events. Whereas “A Rainy Day” sets dreamlike images of a romantic interlude against the mouse-chewed backdrop of a concrete city enduring spring rains.   

May I?

An unfamiliar planet
is straight ahead.
A blue summer dress,
a tinted statue
wrapped in thin paper,
her gray eyes.
She has let my glance in–into the gray grottos,
and I, unexpectedly for myself,
burst in as
a flickering flock of noctules.
This moment has absorbed so many impossible things,
I won the lottery of drawbridges.
A flying bullet stopped above your head,
and asked, hovering,
“May I?”

A Rainy Day

A rainy day, a lusterless sun–
like an old man urinating through a catheter.
In a minute,
a napalm of rain–
hole-ridden, like glass cheese gnawed through by mice–
will crash down onto the city,
while buildings lining the avenue
are concrete mice gnawed through by that cheese,
and I’m embracing you on the balcony–
a spring trap that persuaded the fox to stay. . .
Sunrise, and then again, the dried crust of the stairway,
a crust in which old hags and mice gnawed an entrance,
but forgot the exit. . .


Dmitry Blizniuk is an author from Ukraine. His most recent poems have appeared in Poet Lore, The Pinch, Salamander, Willow Springs, Grub Street, Spillway, and many others. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he is also the author of The Red Forest (Fowlpox Press, 2018). He lives in Kharkov, Ukraine and is a member of PEN America. 

Sergey Gerasimov is a Ukraine-based writer, poet, and translator of poetry. Among other things, he has studied psychology. He is the author of several academic articles on cognitive activity. When he is not writing, he leads a simple life of teaching, playing tennis, and kayaking down beautiful Ukrainian rivers. The largest book publishing companies in Russia, such as AST, Eksmo, and others have published his books. His stories and poems written in English have appeared in Adbusters, Clarkesworld Magazine, Strange Horizons, J Journal, The Bitter Oleander, and Acumen, among many others. His last book is Oasis published by Gypsy Shadow. The poetry he translated has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes.

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