for mercy goods, the queue
branches into three or four
strands, natters — like a tape player
set to rewind, set to the back of the head
that glimmers in front of the square
the perspective advances, asks
in a whisper, “who’s last in line?” he shouts,
offhandedly, “don’t cut!” does the fat cashier
wear a scarf with polka dots?
or is it monotone? in the process
of paying off the massive debt
reinforcements loom, the well-trodden path

for mercy goods, they cram
crunch bustle
straddle crowd snap even
deadpan in the door
snook squelch in breaths
conk panic check
subscribe conclude in the tub
a filthy conscience wherein
a mother gave birth to swim in the park
tied up with a whiffet, its shit
sinks into the soil shotglass
tipped over the thud of time

for mercy goods they amass
pangs in the liver– whether it’s sunk in or not…
biochemistry doesn’t prove a thing, the lamb
swindles the wave, a restless
rascal took a leak somewhere, shining reruns
of the past dim, neither ear nor snout
strikes sense into this sketch, eyelids
shut from fatigue, bursts out laughing
in plain sight, then wipes it off, the clients
of the hitmen start the meter,
due to a shortage of needles
they rearrange the pictures on the wall of fame

Mercy goods beaten to death
it’s time to mosey on outta here–
in the gym, there’s a grinning moron–
but, Vasya doing leg presses,
by the age of eighteen,
gave it up to nearly half her class, they tuck
the displaced in triage, keep a close
eye on the habit
of putting everything in quotes, no one’s spending
on the lower standard of living
in the provinces, the hare gave it hot
and strong to the wolf, the shapes shine

Translated by Harry Leeds and John Westbrook