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Three poems from ‘Sovetica’.




First of all Brezhnev
died and there was
sad music on the TV.
They cancelled all the
programmes and only
left us the bedtime story.
But the main thing was
that school closed for
the day of his funeral.
Only the straight-A kids
were unhappy as they
had to stand in front of
his portrait all day.
came Andropov and just
over a year later he died.
We were so happy as we
thought there would be
no school. And there really
was no school except for
the straight-A kids again
who had to stand in front
of his portrait.
came Chernenko who was
called the living corpse as
he was on so much med-
ication, very old, just like
a living mummy. A year
later he died and we were
all happy but it turned out
that school wouldn’t be
closing for his funeral. We
all said how disrespectful.



For breakfast we had
buckwheat porridge
(I hated it with milk)
or oat porridge called
Hercules. Dad would
get up first and turn
the radio on very loud.
He always had it on—
it was obligatory and
it used to be forbidden
to turn it off. We always
had fresh bread which
only lasted two days.
There were programmes
about what to do with
it when it turned stale.
School started at 8am
shops opened at 8.30.


During the school holidays
there was a rhythm to the
day. In the morning we’d
go out to play then someone
would say, the film’s starting
in five minutes and we’d all
go in to our own or someone
else’s home. The streets would
be deserted for a while and
when the film was over we’d
all go back outside.
xxxxxxxxxxxxIn the winter
there was Captain Vrungel,
The Life and Adventure of
Four Friends—about dogs,
and Guest From the Future.
In the summer they always
showed one about a boy
called Denis Korablyov and
The Adventures of Elektronik.
xxxxxxxxxxxxMum used to
leave food for me in a flask
and then later on she showed
me how to use the oven. But
sometimes I’d just come in,
take a piece of black bread,
sprinkle it with sugar then go
back out.

Caroline Clark‘s first collection is Saying Yes In Russian (2012, Agenda Editions). Further work from Sovetica is in the latest issues of Snow lit rev, Tentacular and Confingo. Her translation of prose by Olga Sedakova, In Praise of Poetry, was published by Open Letter Books in 2014. She edited the novel Meridian (Unthank, 2015) by David Rose and is on the (snow)board of Snow lit rev.


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