No. 6


Alexey Alekhin  

Translated from the Russian by Andrey Gritsman   



I still turned out to be lucky to get onto this publicized trip.
Though not with the first-class ticket.
Snowy white card with printed pigeon entangled in the monogram with 
     golden edging.
Monster of seven thousand cubits from stern to stem.
Winter gardens, cages for mating cars, skyscrapers of superstructures.
There was even a post office, envelopes with pigeon.
Jazz band meets passengers with splashes of march,
smiling affably. 
Old Noah in white three-piece suit wipes his horn-rimmed glasses.
Seven decks for the pure, seven decks for the impure.
Travelers out of curiosity and on business.
Wealthy ones.
And those who can’t even write the word “money.”
Perfectly young couple with identical smiles, one suitcase for both.
Chinese with textbook of English.
Gray-haired banker puffing, hidden bankrupt, with brand-new wife 
directly from a department store window, still wrapped in plastic.
Goggle-eyed mulatto women, large Russians with thick nostrils, Japanese
     with shaved heads.
Cheerful Italians in heavy blue overcoats.
Immigrants and refugees from Sodom and Gomorrah with blankets to third
Polish has six boxes with vacuum cleaners. He brings them into a new life.
Count Myshkin we were patients together at the Sklif infirmary in the 
     same ward when he cut himself with a razor.
Black-bearded Frenchman from “Figaro” with dear name in his address 
The body of oil sheik is brought down to the hall.
He wanted to be buried by ancestral custom—along with his beloved Rolls
Stamp collectors rush to the post kiosk to postmark before departure.
First resonant siren.
Unpacking is the first joy of a journey even before you hear hum of the 
It is like opening gifts.
There is a writing table in the cabin and lamp on a nickel-plated spine. My 
Carpet, fan, marble shelf under the mirror in the bathroom, for the ladies 
     to put their perfumes.
Free text of prayer “on travelers.”
Chinese gabble in the next cabin filled with the bags full of silk.
Steward knows me already “That one with glasses.”
The whole city of cabins, even kids are being born here.
Elevators, decks, railings of polished brass.
Here and there election campaign posters showing curly haired Ham.
He holds panties in his hand.
Majestic beggar with a broken nose is dozing off by the ladder, nodding to
     coins dropped on his rug.
Shem is announced to have gone mad and he gives interviews in his wood-paneled suite with palm trees, deck A.
In the private dining room the Georgians sing their songs and plot the
Waiters circle around the diners at a soft tiger pace.
Pigeon loft on the fourth sham chimney.
Garlands all over the promenade deck. Tables are moved.
Everything is ready for the announced evening dance.
Oleanders bloom in the vats.
Romanian family with a bunch of bags is chewing small van Houten 
Black kids run around the folding chairs yelling in English, French, 
Older rose-cheeked immigrant (pool massage) with small golden ring on 
     his pinky explains:
“Now I am on vacation. House in California.
Network of shops. Started with tobacco shop.
Yeah, from a small tobacco shop.”
Sailors Buddhists hung the prayer flags on the rear deck.
Steward in his white robe with a little dove on it rubs the brass plaque on 
     the deck cabin.
“Ark International.
Armand Noah, President.”
Bank note counter chatters beyond the partition
Terrorists are in the special section with the loot in bank bags and with 
Outside by the door the gendarmes in fatigues guard them. Perhaps we are 
     all immigrants.
Fountain murmurs in the restaurant in the first class section, spreading 
Daughter of swimming suit manufacturer tortures bleeding peach with her 
     snow-white teeth.
UN representative for human rights studies the menu.
Preacher coming back from the tour immersed himself into a large shrimp 
     as if it was a watch mechanism.
Saxophone player on the stage blows out cautiously trembling silver bowl.
In the kitchen fish spines glisten with kerosene bluish sheen and cooks 
     handle knives.
Young American and a mulatto girl palpate each other with their eyes in 
     a desolate lounge.
They are the only ones who will be saved.
Everybody is out on the deck watching the departure.
“You want to waste time any longer, we’re off!”
“There she is by the Coca Cola kiosk. She is waving with her hat and 
“The shop will be open in an hour after the departure.”
“Seim almost introduced citizenship law, but it fell through.”
“When they started shooting we lay in the vegetable garden,
everything burned down, barely saved the passports.”
“I was selling choppers to Bolivia, wife real beauty, bought a villa on the 
“Only if it was not that goddam flood.”
“It’s okay; I started a quarter of a century ago.
Looked around. Started with a tobacco shop.”
“She had an abortion from him.”
“They say you can’t get away from the feminists.”
“It happened with that explosion in Lyon metro.
I wanted to study ballet but my leg…”
“Something about convents.”
“He received a grant for that.”
“You already put a stain on yourself.
Button it up so it’s covered.”
Mighty siren.
Powerless multicolored serpentine, serpentine.
Squeaky cries of seagulls.
And somewhere from the upper decks distant crackle of the bank note 
     counting machine.
The skyscraper departs from skyscrapers harnessed by tugboats.
Dr. Noah, jacket off, potters about with his pigeons.
Plane rustles above in the high sky as if someone draws a needle along blue 
     rough paper.
Sleepy Thames.
Clerk from “Lloyd,” who spent all night peering into the TV watching the 
     soccer game from  Montevideo already mixed up everything. 
Entered a wrong name into the computer: “Titanic.”



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