For years Count Leon Nikolaievich Tolstoy
lived on his estate in Iasmaia Poliana
he never shaved-and went around barefoot
may he have a place in heaven
he ate only raw carrots

No doubt you're asking yourselves who I am
with this white Tolstoyan beard
begging money in a public street
I-I one of his legitimate grandchildren

The Revolution has been cruel to me
I'm not going to say one thing and mean another
but if each of you could give whatever you can-
(Here he passes the hat around)
anything will do-even a single kopeck

I . . . if only I could tell you all my sufferings
imagine! the grandson of a Count
begging in a public street:
It stands your hair on end!

My wife furthermore ran away with another man
she left me for an army captain
on the pretext that I had a nervous disorder
I won't deny that I quake all over
as a matter of fact
I tremble like a leaf in a storm!
but it seems to me you don't break
a sacrament of Our Holy Mother Church
the way you pop party balloons:
there are some respectable twentieth-century ladies
who ought to faint from shame

Pity this poor cuckold
who hasn't any other source of income.
I'm not going to say one thing and mean another
I suffer from an incurable disease
contracted in my earliest childhood:
my whole right side is paralyzed
I may die at any moment

My disease is encephalitis lethargica

On top of all this
I've just had gall bladder surgery
if you want me to I'll show you the scar.

I . . . I can't find peace anywhere
I'm not going to say one thing and mean another
the neighborhood kids are always after me throwing stones
you really have to be sick
to make fun of a ragged old soul
who doesn't have a place to die
If my dear grandfather were only alive today
I wouldn't have to go around begging
a different bird would be singing my song!

By the way I've got to get 17 dollars
to pay for my heroin booster shot
before I have an attack
don't make me draw you a picture
if you don't give it to me
I'll have to get it myself
I'm not going to pull any punches
I'm a tough little bastard in my way
stick 'em up your money or your ass
up against the wall motherfuckers!

* To be sung to a Gregorian chant.


translated by Miller Williams
traducido por Miller Williams


en: Antipoems: New and Selected (edited by David Unger), New York, New Directions, 1985.


SISIB - Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades - Universidad de Chile