from Nothing Happens

Andrei Monastyrski

I can’t do anything
let alone free something
in order to clear space
there is no place for me here
or for what I did
and forgot

there’s nothing here
in any sense
that’s how it used to be
how it was when everything left
and there won’t be anything
other than me
but I forgot that, too

this is nothing
what could it be
it’s all the same
I don’t remember
it’s all the same here

I’m not bound by anything
this place does not have conditions
for movement
nothing will stir
or roar past
no one can fly

this place has so much emptiness
I do not fully grasp it
no one can move
or fly
something is put back up
and noiselessly falls away

no, no one appears
I can’t see
the ones noiselessly flying by
they are not here
this place is soundless
everything is somewhere else

something flies over me
it’s flying away
it’s moving something in the air
there is nothing to breathe here
time goes by slowly

above me something is noisily
being moved
something flies out
and comes to a stop near me
there is no one
next to me

I’m flying
suddenly I vanish
only my noise remains
I emerge from the noise
as if from a cloud
I fly around it
swinging my legs

I’m flying
suddenly I vanish
everything here is taken out
of something else
and outlined in chalk
I don’t know what this means

there’s none of me anywhere
everything is outlined
except for me
suddenly, outlined,
I fly out of some kind of E.
with emptiness inside me

I’m flying
I am filled with noise
I speak to someone
I move E.
I take note of the place
other than this place
there is nothing

something is carried out
but there’s nothing here to be carried
everything here gets pulled up
and put back
it flies
and escapes
nothing can be recalled here

something is brought in
and put in place
they emerge from somewhere
form outlines
cross things out
make noise

they've blocked the exit with something
they stack one thing on top of another
they take things out one at a time
empty space
they put things inside one another
long ones, short ones
they’ve turned the E. upside down

this place has a lot of earth
it gets taken away
then brought back
it crumbles
it makes piles in places
it’s heavy
and abstract

the earth flies in clumps
it turns into something
falls somewhere
the sounds of it falling reveals
secret spaces
empty desires

even such indeterminacy
can create the illusion
of a lived-in space
though there's no one here
but me
and I feel bad here

I carry the E. above my head
I throw it at the mirror
it’s stuck
and juts out from the emptiness
there’s no mirror here
I don’t know what it means

the E. flies over my head
there’s nothing for me to grab hold of
nothing to use for momentum
by the time I take out everything
that can be removed
they’re already far away

there are some fragments here
nothing is whole
this brings on
a fragmentary feeling
a broken feeling
it’s hard to remember anything
or grab hold of anything

objects crumble
no one here needs them
they make noise
they yearn to fall and break
I can’t turn away from them
I shouldn’t cast them aside

there are no sounds here
there’s nothing that would make a sound
I don’t even know how to make sound
other than me
there are no sounds here
I don’t understand what it means
to sound

these sounds cause everything that can rattle
to rattle
but here nothing rattles
here there are neither sounds
nor the rattle
of rattling things

translated from the Russian by Brian Droitcour and Yelena Kalinsky

“Nothing Happens” is part of Andrei Monastyrski’s collection Elementary Poetry, translated by Brian Droitcour and Yelena Kalinsky. It is forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse in December 2019.