Dinnertime Ode to Chub


O chub, O golden, sterling chub,

O’er this hungry world suspended,

Most bejeweled, expensive grub,

Brimming priceless fat, transcendent!


Whose scales are more transparent,

Whose mold more finely etched?

– Yours! Yours alone!

You’re even fat too delicate.


Amber fat hangs from your seams,

That has absorbed the smoking peat.

We want it, oh, how we dream

To warm ourselves by its lifegiving heat.


Who else could have such eyes:

They hang, run through with string,

As on a widemouthed glass

The drunken dewdrops cling.


With plaintive, ardent reverie,

We drink these soundless words.

Our heads fog as we crane our necks to see

The shop’s concupiscent boards.


With this I flatter you and plea,

As o’er this dying world you hover,

O smoked chub, impart to me

How I may be a lucky burglar.


May 29-30, 1942. 73 Nikolaevskaya [Street].


Translated by Charles Swank and Matvei Yankelevich. © and courtesy of Ugly Duckling Presse, 2016.