“‘Prologue’ from: The Backbone Flute” by Vladimir Mayakovsky.

For all of you,
who once pleased or still may please,
guarded by icons in the catacomb of the soul,
I shall raise, like a goblet of wine
at a festive board, a skull brimful of verse.

More and more often I think:
it might be far better for me
to punctuate my end with a bullet.
This very day,
just in case,
I’m staging my final performance.

Gather into the hall from my brain
the inexhaustible ranks of my loves.
Pour laughter from eye to eye.
Festoon the night with wedding past.
Pour out joy from body to body.
Let no one forget this night.
On this occasion I shall play the flute.
Play on my own backbone.


“Past One O’Clock” by Vladimir Mayakovsky.

Past one o’clock. You must have gone to bed.
The Milky Way streams silver through the night.
I’m in no hurry; with lightning telegrams
I have no cause to wake or trouble you.
And, as they say, the incident is closed.
Love’s boat has smashed against the daily grind.
Now you and I are quits. Why bother then
To balance mutual sorrows, pains, and hurts.
Behold what quiet settles on the world.
Night wraps the sky in tribute from the stars.
In hours like these, one rises to address
The ages, history, and all creation.