From "The Scent of Absence"

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From "The Scent of Absence"
автор Oleg Prokofiev (1928—1998)
See Poems. From the book "The Scent of Absence" («Отпечаток отсутствия»), 1995.[1].


From "The Scent of Absence" (1995)

I like the music of the spheres…

 * * *

I like the music of the spheres
it hasn't punctuation marks
harmony doesn't stumble
poses are not clogged
and what you hear
from one muteness
imperceptibly moves into another
the clothes of sounds are thrown over
they can be taken off in layers
starting with sporadic shouts — of costumes
then to light rustles — of underwear
to the undressed lack of sounds
down to the mystery of naked silence

Translated by Tamar Hodes and the author.

Four Triades


we look at the bells
where sleeps like a snail
a frozen dance of spheres


a posthumous sentence in my hands
unfolded as a score
of unplayable music


as we wait for an ancestor and precursor
hope is transformed into a myth
about slaves loyalty


forgetting details and forgiving a bit
we become a bit like a conductor
when the jazz of life is playing [2]

Translated by Tamar Hodes and the author.

La Parisienne

she has the looks of a princess
and her grey face with olive’s like eyes
seeks an answer in taming
the mercurian blood of an ant

she aroused a desire
and ran back home with it
with the slenderness of a mushroom
and the passion of a swarm of bees

in the manner she moved
there was grace of a danger
a fear to stop
and become a pearl in amber

Translated by Tamar Hodes and the author.

Five Inexplicable Secrets

the bitterness of a burnt-out sun
household breezes gone with the wind
the desiccated puddle’s rage
the origins of randomness
sleeplessness of the gnome of missed opportunities [3]

Translated by Robert Reid.

like a sketch I'll be rubbed out…

 * * *

like a sketch I'll be rubbed out
like a knot I shall undo
my words will run off on their private errands
and in my place not quite a nothing
but a wind will blow stealthily
and a star will gleam

Translated by Robert Reid.

To A Dying Woman

down a stairway of absences
she goes into the extinguished light
over landing after landing of regrets
through sounding voids
through fathoms of sparse memory
into the velvet imprint of the mirrors
of a world switched off [4]

Translated by Robert Reid.

there’s a hill for each person…

 * * *

there’s a hill for each person

for those who come late
there’s a hole

Translated by Robert Reid.

an absent-minded statue…

 * * *

an absent-minded statue
lost her head along the way
the experts say in centuries
she gave her smile to someone
let’s hope it was the wind
and what
if it’s the collector of dream-stones

Translated by Robert Reid.

I blow the dust of seconds…

 * * *

I blow the dust of seconds
from the stars
and grasp the new-born time
of twinkling centures [5]

Translated by Robert Reid.

A Long Desired Encounter

it won’t be
the living creature of acquaintance
won’t be born
the child of a magic meeting will not cry
the tears wouldn’t dry since none were shed
lust the fact will strip
dropping its reality imperceptibly
laying bare the truth that it didn’t take place
obtrusively stuck in memory
an usurper of imagination will reign
coiling the vigil into a spring of rage and affliction
yet if this meeting is imaginary
then whence this lust for vacuity

Translated by the author.


  1. Oleg Prokofiev: "The Scent of Absence". Bilingual Selected Poems/ Edited and Introduced by Valentina Polukhina. Essays in Poetics, Keele University, Staffordshire, England, 1995. It is published here with the approval of the translators, publisher and heirs of the author.
  2. Also included in "Svechenie slov" («Свеченье слов»), Paris — London, 1991.
  3. Also included in "Svechenie slov" («Свеченье слов»), Paris — London, 1991.
  4. Also included in "Svechenie slov" («Свеченье слов»), Paris — London, 1991.
  5. Also included in "Svechenie slov" («Свеченье слов»), Paris — London, 1991.

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