October 12, 2022

Arkadii Dragomoshchenko (b. Germany / USSR / Russia) 1946-2012

Arkadii Dragomoshchenko (b. Germany / USSR / Russia)



Born in Potsdam, Germany, Arkadii Trofimovich Dragomoshchenko spent his youth in the Ukraine of the Soviet Union. He was a student at the Russian Philological Department in Kiev, and later worked as a reporter for AP News in Kiev while attending the Institute of Theatre, Music, and Cinematography.

     In 1969 he moved to St. Petersburg where he has lived since. There is was first employed as a night watchman, then as a street sweeper, and later as a stoker at the former Leningrad State University Psychological Department while working on his eight book-length collections of poetry and two full-length plays. He was a founding member of the famed Club-81. 

     In 1978 he received the Andrey Bely Independent Literary Prize, and other prizes followed, the Electronic Text Award (for work from Phosphor), and the International Literary Prize of 2009.

     His first book was Nebo Sootvetstvii (Sky of Correspondence), published in 1990. The same year a collection in English, Description, translated by Lyn Hejinian and Elena Balashova was published by Sun and Moon Press in the USA. Xenia followed in 1994, published the same year in English, again by Sun and Moon Press. Other books of poetry, followed, Pod Podozreniem (Under Suspicion), and his selected poetry, Opisanie in 2000.

Photo by Douglas Messerli

     Dragomoshchenko also has published several books of fiction and prose, including Phosphor, Kitajskoe Solnce, translated into English as Chinese Sun (Ugly Duckling Press), and Bezrazlichia (Indifferences), a book of collected prose. Dalkey Archive Press published a selection of Dragomoshchenko's prose as Dust in 2009.

     He translated the work of Lyn Hejinian, John Ashbery, Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, Michael Palmer, Eliot Weinberger, Barrett Watten and others in Russian, and served as co-editor for The Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry in Russian Translation, as well as for The Anthology of Contemporary New Zealand Poetry.

     Critic Marjorie Perloff wrote of the poet's work: "For Dragomoshchenko, language is not the always already used and appropriated, the pre-formed and prefixed that American poets feel they must wrestle with. On the contrary, Dragomoshchenko insists that "language cannot be appropriated because it is perpetually incomplete" ...and, in an aphorism reminiscent of Rimbaud's "Je est un autre," "poetry is always somewhere else."

  Dragomoshchenko's work has been collected into several anthologies and he has lectured in the Department of Philosophy at the St. Petersburg State University and been a visiting Professor at the University of California, San Diego, SUNY Buffalo, and the Smolny Institute of Liberal Arts and Science, an affiliate of Bard College.

    His collected prose works Ustranenie Neizvestnogo were published in 2013,

    Dragomoschenko died in 2012.





Nebo Sootvetstvii (Leningrad: Sovetskii Pisatel Press, 1990); Xenia (St. Petersburg: Borei & Mitin Journal Press, 1994); Pod Podozreniem (St. Petersburg: Borey-Art Press, 1997); Opisanie (St. Petersburg: Gumanitarnaia Akademia Press, 2000); Na Beregakh Iskliuchennoj Reki (Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie Press, 2006); Shoaling Things (with Jan Lauwereyns) (Ghent, Belgium: Druksel, 2011); Tavtologia [collected poetry] (Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie Press, 2011).




Description, trans. by Lyn Hejinian and Elena Balashova (Los Angeles: Sun and Moon Press, 1990); Xenia, trans. by Lyn Hejinian and Elena Balashova (Los Angeles: Sun and Moon Press,1994)


For an audio reading and video discussions with the poet, click below:




To Alexei M. Parshchikov

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I don’t believe that it ended like that, don’t believe it at all, no.

Over there, nothing ever ends, over there, there’s an ocean of air.

Over there, if you want to be with her forever, there’s nothing terrible about it,

Because the terrible doesn’t exist, there is only poverty, and there is nothing

Terrible about that, there is nothing more terrible than what’s terrible,

Like love, which is beneath all beggars, beneath everyone, everything,

But happiness lies elsewhere, not in being a madman, but in seeming

To be one, and in being, at the same time a madman, who will say,

When the occasion is right, that there’s nothing in the world that’s sweeter

than being an idiot.

We’ll end there, because everyone who is looking at us

Has low-set eyes, they are magnificent in the plaster of poses and speech.

Close-set eyes, long plaster sleeves,

The hands are slow, disappear from sight. They are light at the passing of blood and

After a retort. Who taught them the art of direct speech? In which there isn’t a single

Word about how the conifer needles clung to the shoulders, when they didn’t exist

In the first place, and won’t, because what will exist are Parshchikov’s dirigibles,

His flock, my diopters, addresses, telephones, and no oil at all.


Translated from Russian by Genya Turovskaya



To a Statesman


When you, Statesman, speak dreams across the notebook,

because the rest menaces night with blue graphite,

and crumbs don’t captivate, nor cast-off clothes, nor doors,

nor veins along the calf, nor eyes, nor glass in Aegean linens –

For you Stymphalian nightingales magnanimously whistle,

and someone thinks just before sleep that once, long ago

you played circular football, smashed your knee to pieces,

the rain washed over your heads and no one was anointed, slated…


But how much childhood grief was in the clay

that clung to us like ivy, Statesman,

how much tender pain in the loose gravel, the crunch; later

we raced to the stream through the Sunday crowd and the crowd

didn’t know

that we had lost that game, but then again, maybe we won it –

protocols turn to dust in concrete castles;

I don’t remember why evening spread itself over the table, when

she pulled off her jeans and in return asked for a book

the name of which I can’t remember…and the pines at night?

O Statesman,

Don’t forget how you pulled tadpoles out of the rain barrel.

There algae swayed – Phrygian, pentatonic trifles,

and you caught sight of yourself and tried to launch a yacht in the cistern,

its depth over your head (you would have choked on water)

and the breadth no higher than the waist,

so that the little boat seemed to be made of bread,

And later empty years passed, lean as the rafters of a fire.


Was it not the obvious end that drove you not into the raspberry brambles

but the dry leaves, to the scythe’s swing through the clover. Were you crying


when you understood that the voices didn’t reach you. That is,

they did reach you – called you to supper, to come home – but they passed,

as it were, through you,

so you decided that would be it, you would get up

put on a jacket, read a story about heroes, but the mint leaves

muttered that there is lots of sorrow, that there is no one there,

mother is there, from where the raspberry, the dry hedges,

the gold beetles call from, but there’d be no answer because

the seasons are different,

and you have been a grownup for a long time, Statesman, – you conceive laws,

forgetting that you failed to grasp the rules of simple mathematics;

the same as in school when for the first time you sensed the smell of the girl

you shared your desk with,

when empires crumble like chalk on the coal blackboard, and you didn’t get

your hands on the dress and if someone did, then it was no one.


Where you didn’t exactly lose, there just isn’t enough time,

you grew tired, that is, when you arrived everyone had already gone

except for the spindle-tree, the white raspberry, painted-over windows.

This is from where, as we leave, you appear full of bewilderment,

or retribution, – it would have been easy to talk about football:

we flopped miserably. The sky is excessive. Money doesn’t yield to patience.

Out of us someone extracts – name, declination. Some have access

to only one dream, others to two: there is no difference -

they see the same thing: an attic, summer heat, sluggish hands

brushing a cobweb from the palm of the wind.


Translated from Russian by Genya Turovskaya



To Trofim K. Dragomoshchenko


Is the fault really yours? Mine? They say it is verging on spring,

and you are as old as you’ve always been,

and – moreover – no longer appear in my dreams.

That last time you were saying …But what?

What truly matters? To speak: is that not enough? or too much?

Not a single horizon can be as distinct

as the one charted by the stone’s fall.

That rivers go, gathering the arterial force of space?

Grammar doesn’t abide muteness, shards of water,

the incision of a fish, the whooping of birds from beyond the hill at sunrise?

Underwater scales, of course, and fins, shade, bare feet.

And some others – like cells in a long arithmetic book.

Soon faces will blacken from the sun. It is truly so.

And perhaps that’s good – it’s easier in summer, in summer

there is no need to look over one’s shoulder and even the shadows of non-being

search out coolness in the bonfires of a house, melting into the walls on the stories

torn apart by the roots of the nut tree, the nasturtium, the mattiola.


Even there, where we’ve already been, where we needn’t return.

The world is merciful. That is why water rises as a wave, then ebb tide.

There is no need to return to the cumbersome body, to press against

the sleeping mummies of cigarettes, to stand as mica, among the figures of wine,

of telluric books, staring bewildered into the zenith.

No need to return

no need, during insomnia, to flee, as the child after parting

entangles the heart with madness. It’s unreasonable,

they tell him, “what are you doing!” – they tell him – and it

is precisely the body, its smallpox inoculations, knots of fracture,

sunset of operatic wounds, its tattoos of inversion, some of them seeds,

when nothing remains that is not with her, but vague letters,

the scalpel’s exquisite glaciers, other things.

By all accounts, in the same heap of bodies, when the time comes,

judging by everything, you’ll no longer appear in dreams.

It is not a question of the moon, of spring, of the time of the throat. Dreams decay,

fall to pieces, and their gold

flakes into flocks of flying fish, going blind over the scales of the abyss.

Because – that’s it! I almost forgot – not to see

you in military whites among the vitriolic crystals of lilacs.

I parted them with my hands, gulping air, I ran

(This is from where that which will later appear as millennium comes).

Not much time remained to see you there, leaning

on the warm hood of the jeep. What could I have said

then? How could I have understood that which I don’t understand today?

How cleanly and slantingly it wafts of gasoline,

and women’s white dresses at the moment of take off.

Of course, water, small pitchers, hot brass cases,

myopia. But even without auxiliary lenses I see

how between you and me the sky widens and widens,

rising higher than the Himalayas.

—Translated from Russian by Genya Turovskaya

(From Weather Report)


Not dream, but the flowering of an invisible trace – what simpler –

In that place where, in the pupil’s depth, lake ascends over lake,

without diminishing in the participial turns – the sum of forms

Carried beyond the limits of the thing, like a fissure beyond the limits of space.

Weather is the sole event that time passes into.


Evening’s bridle. Loops of resinous foliage, the cries of children in the delta.

The story began without resistance, as a rumor, a conch shell in the fingers.

Blood, seeping into stone, imprisoned in fragments of quartz,

again grants the root its lengthening greed in this hillscape:

We look from a distance: the trees are the same, differentiated by the leaf’s contours,

the stages of dying.

Names come later, resembling diaries, lagoons, lanterns, chalk.

Later still, in common speech, “now” encounters the word “now”

And can find no answer in a single silence or deliberate pause,

Not in a single reverberation of the unresisting and ephemeral – but

nevertheless real –story

Whose time has become weather, the object’s expansion.

Anyway, I have not yet decided where best to meet your eyes.

At the zenith? There the hiatus breeds a blinding hope.

Or in the lowlands, where you are indistinguishable from the fog.

And later still, the sole of the foot will not be touched by the trope of noiseless gravel.



Translated from Russian by Genya Turovskaya






Everything was in decline.

Even the talk about everything being in decline.

Space was doubling, fences were rotting,

Jars hummed in the wind;

the melancholy of porcelain insulators, frozen splinters; the migrations of chalk;

breathing at times would tighten the chest even beyond the city

or a spark would fly between the temples.

Sometimes it seemed that there was, all in all, a bird above the ground.

But how quickly the body was dissipating in names!

The perspective should have changed.

And it changed.


Lights swam across the eye-socket.

How fleetingly we escaped reading.

O great movements of time in money!

But, in the socket, which had unfastened clothes of feathers,

reduced to nothing, there beat as before

that which was knowable.


Some said that that building

(like all allegories) was exceptionally crude,

at the same time, others spoke about the tyranny of the father and about the stella,

which had lifted up the inscription of difference...

Like the speech of an idiot, the other’s face gropes on.

Still others, escaping into themselves, growing quiet,

began to whisper passionately

something about films, about which

all those that came should have remembered.

The talk was of the first war of Postmodernism,

About the fact that Aquarius will undoubtedly console our hearts,

but in the immense boundary of intentions space shrunk

to slip past the heart.

Horror? No. Indisputably, it was something else.


About what does the imagination weave its dust strands

and come undone along stitches towards morning,

and all the same in them one could guess at

the features of earlier times, — stories about people

whose traces were becoming lost in the past.


But what could be done with all this? Pictures?

Sound recordings? A muttering of screens?

Icebergs of libraries in a stalactitic dusk of waters?

The roar of gutters in the era of downpour springs?

A Heraclitian pupil of coffee? — dreams,

whose banks have been losing their spring over the years

and have been showered with whitewash,

when at the edge of dawn hands clutched at them...


Avoid it? Become a noun? And not lose it?

Or, better, melt like foliage?

These words still remained

as if they had been pulled out roots and all,


— the increments in a phrase that establish the rhythm,

independent of where they come from or

where they vanish, they that have never belonged to us.


One could even feel dizzy at times.

Worshippers of the triple jump,

ornithology, the dacha seasons,

connoisseurs of the art of late communism,

wild strawberries, philosophy, home singing,

incapable of understanding anything impartially

neither in words, nor in sounds, nor in stones and weather

— phosphorescing moles of illuminations

(the bodies, meanwhile, were being worn to perfection

by a careless repetition of nights,

or rather, as if by the death of others) — they were transforming,

while not wanting to notice it, into something else.

One wonders into what?

Into coal? Dust? Offprints? Admissions? Clay? Into an echo

wandering along lines of communication.

The moon, meanwhile, has not become anything

even at a time of flowering. — “That is trust.”


Probably, just as contemplation of reflections

brings a number into the world at the requisite time,

so a contemplation of time turns them into reflections, specks of light, finally, an ocean

that reason cannot grasp.


It was also in some way like “to escape”

or “to begin,” or “to dissolve into the foliage”

(for example: “I want to melt in you”...

How many times has it been said? Fuck loads).

Like ice under skates,

time was slipping into a freezing roll.

Also, if you remember, it was a different time of year.


The midnight of midday. A deserted bus-stop.

Yellow walls, an inky shadow on the outskirts (then

it was the outskirts, now one cannot recognize those places),

which seems to have gone blind

from the impossibility of being only itself,

like the moon or rubbish storms,

of which there are more and more.


We often fell silent mid-word that autumn.

A spectral series of things, of which

not one was able to become a thing,

but only a rut of meaning that

one will never have to untangle in the breath’s dew.

One could hear outside the window

an ash-tree swaying mutely and savagely in the ravine of a rupture of sky.

The destruction touched everything.

Of course, you can always find comfort

in recollections of the time

when no one knew about the collapse, about the inevitable,

and farther on there is the snow mercury of a page.


The collapse was simply a reward

that concealed a hope that

we would never set out from the place,

having frozen like in a children’s game.


An airport, the blow of a blue wall,

ocean beaches in the boiling of flies...

Further on there is the light on faded bricks

when everything is set into a candle’s even flame,

like the wax of insects, reality dissipates itself,

preserving forms and possibility.


A leg raised in running.

A mouth ajar. What does laughter relate to?

What reflections wound unmoving faces?

From what springs is the water that washes

the philosophical pores of the bones?


...There was still such a comic-strip as:

“life is eternal, and, swinging,

a long shot is flying.”


A gesture.

Tiles that shoot upwards from the roofs.

Tension and — you breath out:


you sign for me(sign it in my name): dragomoshchenko;

the boredom is excessive;

the thread endless, like dust.


One dreams of a continuation on a magnetic arc,

like the wind roaring in a bottomless ring.



Translated from Russian by Genya Turovskaya





Paper Dreams




Black paper dreams of its own

inaudible rustle;

its own reflection in white.

Heat drowsily watches heat

through the panes of passion.


Metamorphoses of water.

Carrying reflections

down to the bone’s marrow,

the mirrors of droplets dry up,


Black paper dreams

of black: its dream constrained


by the nature of non-color.

Through the membrane –

the single-mindedness of repetition,

through the body – the needle flies,

bereft of thread, of decay.


Shadow lies upon brick walls.

The gematria of melting

of exclusions.


The letter dreams of the same

paper’s rustling,

in which hearing distinguishes

the contours of a poet,

who dreams of Hasids

burning out as a page of song

on the stones of the ocean,

reducing touch to gesture.

The dream dreams a dream of consonants,

the page –

where black assumes

the limits of incision –

dreams of the borders of the letter, mica, light.

I love to touch with my lips

the tattoo at the stem of your shoulder,

(the calendrical whirl of the Aztecs),

so that word may open to word.


To buy wine,

again there isn’t enough money,

images of sand and wind.


Each dream, exposing

the honeycombs of visions,

engages thread into motion:

fingers slipping downward

Guetat Liviani, Frederique

are spinning a cobweb

– the tenderness of violence –

the ethereal fabric of recognition

in intensity and indication.

However quiet

your voice may be.

However much it fills coincidences

with hesitant executions.



The fingers dream of the keyholes

emitted by stones,

which see in their dreams

the azure salts of the sun,

the blade’s whistle, water’s branch,

which see in their dreams

skin, celestial bodies, teeth,

the tattoo of indistinct speech

on the standards of breathing –

such are


the touch of tongue to tongue,

of saliva to tongue;

such are the outspread arms and legs

of a man and a woman, –

the golden mean on the book’s cover, –

which dreams of pages

over which the night saunters,


and the night is dreamt by speech,

like the throat of heavy light

and the sign’s endless ribbon

which engirds those who are

slowly bringing their hands together

as if the fingers feel for something else in the arc.

A desert,

imprisoned in touch.


Wine sees in its dreams

all of the forementioned things,

which cross into diminution

along the steps of un-thinging,

(an unhurried narration),


and I, examining the wine

that lives in glassy limits,

like the threads

of fusion and touch,

falling from the fingers

toward the puppets of flight

in the gardens of noontime tortures.

The sign – is the quietest razor of darkness

Wine has no “right”

no “left”. Death

has no name – it is only a list,

the spilling over of the two-way mirror,

where the equal sign is rubbed away


to the differentiation

between man and woman



Translated from Russian by Genya Turovskaya



Possible Symptoms


To see this stone and not experience indecision

To see these stones and not to look away


To see these stones and comprehend the stoneness of stone

To see these stone stones at dawn and at sunset


But not to think of walls, no, not to think of dust, or else, deathlessness

To see these stones at night and think of the reverie of wasps in liquid solutions


Accepting as evident that, at the thought of them, stones

add to their essence neither shadow, nor reflected light, nor conquest.


To see these same stones in thunder, see them as you see the pupils of Heraclites

in which the agamy of stones resembles shards.


To examine the nature of resemblance, without resorting to symmetry.

To turn away and see how stones hover – night for their wings,


This is why they are higher than seraphim, hurtling as stones toward the earth

Burning in the air, as hair burning from a bridge -


Toward the earth that in one fell moment

Will lay down as a stone on the brick wall of the unnecessary name


For how much longer will signifiers smolder, coal of hoarfrost, at the parameter?

For as long as the stones that are dreamt by the act of falling.


Earlier, toward spring, faceted clusters of wasps rose to a boil in dreams

Earlier, in spring, sand would awaken, spread as a spiral in the wind


Thousand eyed, like snow or God – the hawk of airborne hordes

advancing toward the perpetual countries of an alphabet of a single letter.


Only as a grimace along the margin, in the tension of mercury, as a blind rose

Flash-captured crystal, like a sea-annexed island


Or possibly as subterranean grasses over streaming footfall

Entering into the possession of doubling, the acrid oxide of rupture.


What is it? How is it translated? What is the measure of the past?

Where does it come from? What is it’s motive?


Yes, I do not hear: such is the pendulum’s string.


Reverberation of vision.


The narrow sail of the sand.


Translated from Russian by Genya Turovskaya



Copyright (c)2009 Arkadii Dragomoshcheko; English language translation (c) by

Genya Turovskaya.

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