it is evening time
in this circus of a brain
i call home,
the small birds
who fed all day
in my garden
even the cold-eyed cat
and the other occupants
in this rented house,
these grim strangers,
sit and ease the evening away
like a game of chess or a warm beer,
their voices sinking like sleep
in the distance
i have travelled
to my room here.
Years have passed
like revolvers spitting bullets
at the dead.
And if you could see
all these changes,
they’d seem to travel
in endless circles
without either promise
Despair breeds in these
concrete warrens like a disease,
the disease of capital!
Likewise this other crippling
contradiction called “socialism”,
our terminal illness
that no matter what’s uprooted
it all remains the fucking same!
Here’s a revolution
where nothing important revolves,
only time, Vladimir.
For fucks sake, the evening itself
throws a barricade
at the bright lights of the casino here,
where each day, comrade,
the glorious dead of our dreams
are marched once again to their execution.
It is spring!
And in this quiet place now
it seems as if it’s 1a.m., exactly 1a.m.,
your one a.m. where
a thousand boats crash
on the rocks
and all that’s left is silence,
and dialectically instead
O, your flight and fall,
to the ground!
‘Past 1 O Clock’ – the poem (“Past one o’clock. You must have gone to bed. /
The Milky Way streams silver through the night.”) was found among Mayakovsky’s papers after his suicide on April 14, 1930. He had used the middle section of the poem as part of his suicide note:
Blame no one for my death, and please don’t gossip. The deceased
really hated gossip.
Mama, my sisters and comrades, forgive me-this is not a good
method (I don’t recommend any others) but I have no other way out.
Comrade government, my family is Lili Brik, mama, my sisters
and Veronika Vitoldovna Polonskaya.
If you grant them a bearable life-thank you.
Give the unfinished poems to the Briks, they understand them.
As they say-
“the game is over”
has smashed against the reef of the everyday.
I’m quits with life
And there is no reason
To keep a record of pains
cares and quarrels.
Comrades in VAPP, don’t call me a faintheart
Seriously-there was nothing else to do
Tell Yermilov I’m sorry I took the placard down, ought to have had
our quarrel out
There are 2,000 rubles in the table drawer pay the tax with them.
Take the rest from Gosizdat
(From: Bengt Jangfeldt, Mayakovsky: a biography, The University of Chicago Press, Ltd., 2014, Translation by Harry D. Watson)
Still from Archive film of Vladimir Mayakovsky