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Feature: Back From the USSR
Grycja Erde

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Don't Eat My Food
Translated from the Ukranian by Olena Jennings and Svitlana Matviyenko

Dont Eat My Food by Grycja Erde.

I always think about propelling myself off the ground
I search for zones on your shoulders
your bony shoulders press against my hands
egoism brought on a state of misery
and then the wars, the wars…
your instinct to protect yourself
tries to embrace my bare back
words used to explain the need for it
the beginning of autumn is always becoming stranger
peace is always constraining and holding the door by a hair
I always feel the trinity of you more strongly
delight struggle and amorphism

the amorphous struggle with delight
the delight of the struggle with amorphism
and the struggle with the amporhism of delight

your shame makes peace feel like cotton
its result will be the freedom I give you
the necks of trees drip with the juice of love
the necks of trees drip with cold juice
eyes appear more passionate from the side
though passion for a fish
doesn’t mean anything

nothing will change the beauty that we have together
we will lose it next year in November
our goal will be the croaking of frogs at midnight
beneath the cold juice
of the dripping neck of the careless tree
buy me enough flowers to make me choke

we kill some and show mercy for others
according to a very subconscious Darwinism,
and with the tongue that stuck out and croaked
we try to catch the sickness
that is already without its symptoms
the epidemic that congealed like gelatin
we make you melt, o how we make you melt!
collectors of people, places and unnecessary jokes!
the only thing that could have been born
in the cold shower after hot skin –
slush has yet to bring about love

the hot tap water kills the last hopes
of those shady people...who you won’t remember tomorrow…
who left their telephone numbers and disappeared
I’m a very small very much damaged deer
but…winter isn’t coming, which means I won’t freeze

you will sift out the only holy part of me
without leaving truth

or leaving only truth
and I don’t know what to do with it

the only reason to celebrate is the absence of fact
because there is time left. because there is certainty left –
tomorrow you won’t be here either

claiming to be detached
which is calming at first
leaves the suspicious aftertaste
that something still isn’t right
nothing is complete anywhere
the impression is that you are betraying
yourself more certainly all the time
and the words that drip away –

they make you move
at least
but for what?

if breast milk were cultivated with soy fertilizer
it would seem just as beneficial

I think that the apples over there are especially good eaten with dirt
in which a child’s green legs lie unclear what made it drunk
my mother is making jam in the nearby house
with rhubarb, cabbage, gooseberries, and sparrows

then evening begins
I come to pick up the child
repeatedly having to pull it from the ground home
singing in a hoarse, just-out-of bed, voice:
“there are always fewer kind words left,
what is there to speak with?
the less I feel
the more I eat”

the child grows up knowing
that everything around it is as pure
as breast milk

you have similar thoughts
but it is very likely
that this is completely untrue
small antennae and whiskers
prick you so that you won’t forget –
everything isn’t necessarily the way you think it is

they make you smell make you piss
and most vehemently they force you
to buy gifts
that you don’t want to give
because all your life the absence
of normal milk from a mother’s breast
clean and warm
has made you slightly anxious

Lina was laid-back but daring
she didn’t get her period until she was 15
and she didn’t like men
she liked the musty air in her room
she could never find the light switch
in the dark hallway – not even once

then she went to work as a receptionist
at some private firm
and married a very well-read citizen
who then left for a long time
to take care of some business across the border
and from there he sent a hundred dollars a month
and sometimes shoes
either one size too big or too small

and later even more mundane
her husband didn’t return after she turned forty
she was alone until an old philosopher-healer found her
he made her take hot followed by cold showers
make salads and jog in the morning

yet she agreed to everything
more than anything in the world she wanted to have kids
but it was already too late to be a mother
even with the help of a miracle diet

and the husband-healer kept composing books aloud
and taking her once a year to the theater –
life seemed to be a good dish
that it was possible to eat
and preferably not to wash down

Lina died at 56
from an aneurysm or some other shit
that the household doctor didn’t catch
in the cemetery there were about 10 people
and even they didn’t cry that loud,
it was clear
that Lina’s life didn’t stand out in any way

streams of vegetarian dreams

are lifted by pain not carried through term

from the cry of a dead lamb

there is no knowledge like there is in your dreams
you’ll go further
by walking backward
you will cry over the past
and tomorrow you’ll take a road into a dog’s brain
you have it all, but find nothing
even if they would have brought everything and left it for you
you wouldn’t have taken it

Danish soil!
I shouldn’t smell
your tulips

I make good use of your time
singing in your voice
for 107 years
aren’t capable of being forgiven
the sectаrian weaves words and the words sound
half-strange half-legends
the sectarian rides on black bulls
in front of the windows among cut trees
snakes wound around orange trees
cultivate legs in cold soil
which you touch every year
with only your fingers
you don’t want the coming of passion
you are waiting for things to stop changing
you are waiting for stability
a dog sent unordered
you rake deeply with your nails looking for food
for your world
totally hungry
you wait to search until day
and you will sleep trapped in blue pajamas
my fluid will smell the strangest
from that moment
when I, sitting on marble,
see the storm

why don’t I smell of a woman
with a full basket
of baked apples
with thick fingers
with the aroma of ear wax
and other unwashed crevices

I don’t smell of a woman
who symbolizes reproduction and care
who probably has
a sparse mustache
above her top lip
and small firm nipples

I don’t smell of a woman
who doesn’t shave
doesn’t use eyeliner
because my eyes are already dark enough

doesn’t pick the blackheads from her face

why don’t I smell of an average woman’s despair
every time I smell more strongly of eyes

that are full of the world’s sorrow
of short
broken nails
of thin skin
fit legs
of more-or-less fresh milk

why don’t I smell of sex or sheets
why don’t I drink large chalices of wine

I want to know
how to begin smelling
like a nice unimposing woman
and to distance myself from the world
upon appearance
the next time that was dedicated
to some totally fleeting idea

I never went intentionally to the places
that would have reminded me of something
I’m quickly slow in the world
this time I’ll hear footsteps inside my mouth

orders are always given more often
now I’m a small quick assembly line
hands move fast-fast
and saliva drips onto the napkin
especially prepared in advance

my desire forces me to look at a stranger’s shoulders

what am I doing?

I’m growing Japanese rice on my stomach
I’m carrying fish in my breast for suckling
I’m cutting my cuticles with a blade

my workers
have the secret task
of putting my saliva and cuticles
into bags

surrounded by a lot of people with flowers in their hair and rotten teeth
they are happy because they carry their present days
in little yellow bags

they sit down and breathe loudly-loudly
the noise of their conversations cuts through the noise of the minibus wheels

Juliette’s minibar
the large breasts of its owner
I imagine that I have breasts like that
I run with them and they bounce and shake
you asked once, how does it feel to have breasts
and I tried to show you

my love
you are always becoming more perfect

today I ate little marmalade ships and thought about death
again thought about death
my love
you can touch me until I’m lying in the bathtub and water runs
down my body that is becoming pink (fat, rusty)
I can imagine you in the supermarket
where the crazy people go

you can invite me to your house at night
and tell me that will be better
my love
you can only see things your way
finally you don’t exist
I know – no one ever existed

I know – no one will ever exist

my face is round and small. I’ll finish that which will make it all okay

a cow’s dead head
a queen’s dead head

and we are so dead-dead, like dogs in the middle of the road
I hate God

around me there are a lot of really beautiful
insane small women

I would like to be every one of them for a half an hour

so that I could also go crazy
and become a little bit smaller

they read good magazines
that have poems and horoscopes
and stories about unrequited love
patterns for a jacket
and embroidery with baby jesus

I live in the ‘70s. why not?
everyone is just as happy as the next person

my mom also lives in the ‘70s

she has furs and boots, she has white hair
and she wants a little toy dog

today I beat her in chess 2:1

and my head is absolutely full of ideas
ABSOLUTELY full. a little more, games…

everything around is synthetic and warm wearing me out with its surrealism
I want to have a lot of plastic surgery so that no one recognizes me.
is it really so important in this world to have beautiful legs?
maybe I should cut the hell out of them and make myself small wheels?

and to imagine people.
don’t imagine people!
to hold a pill of air beneath your tongue is not that easy
organize the files print the photographs
the next train is at six in the morning
the train is such a good thing!

to not comb your hair
to not have hair
buy new hair
to flatter a cat

I envy you – you smell of birch juice
desire drives me
to put the night
in my frozen mouth

I enlarge some photos to the size of a real head
I kiss the screen for a long time
you want to win my world
because of the delight
you imagine

eyes melt into a large body

is pale skin –
a sign of pale blue blood?

why am I always biting my nails shorter?

my cat shines with the scales of the fish it just ate

a spiritual orgasm
cappuccino kefir 2 cigarettes in 2 days
sweet heart and endless pain in my lungs

I change the expression on my face every 10 minutes
when I’m on an artificial high then I become my mother
I start to make rules for everyone around me

with pleasure
I would throw my body
on white sheets
and make the masseuse pour warm water with honey over me

a holiday comes along just when you understand
that sometimes you can rest without worry

yesterday I really wanted to be a 13 year old girl
whose skin smells of milk
today I want to be a forty year old architect
who talks bullshit about some kind of deconstructionism
at the same time I lose people
but I already forgot some of them

again I want

to shave my hair off, write memoirs, eat wheat
to grow a beard, live in a cave, grow mushrooms
project spirals, dream dreams, draw naked nervous women

I know what to choose from all this
I’ll probably just decorate my room
and make my cat pasta with bits of cod liver and pineapple

I was making love to the world
and the world kissed my neck



GRYCJA ERDEGRYCJA ERDE is a Ukrainian artist and poet born in 1986. She has had several solo exhibitions throughout Ukraine. She can be found on the web at



OLENA JENNINGS completed her MFA at Columbia University and her MA at the University of Alberta. Her translations from the Ukrainian have been published in Poetry International, Poetry International Web, Chelsea, and the Wolf. Her feature articles and book reviews can be found on Fanzine, the Millions, and nthWORD Magazine. Her fiction can be found on Joyland and KGB Bar Lit.

SVITLANA MATVIYENKO is a doctoral candidate in critical theory, film and new media, pursuing her degree at the University of Missouri.


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