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In class we pored over his pictures
distributed by my classmate.
He sold them
charging fifty kopeks apiece for the small ones
and one Soviet ruble – for the large ones.

On weekends we listened to his voice
on cassette tape players,
while our parents enjoyed their dachas,
the proletarian mansions
consisting of a kitchen garden.

His voice was like a shriek of a bird,
the voice of distant Australia.
We knew nothing about that country,
except for the meager tidbits we learned in school
and TV programs about the dingo.

Now it’s easy for me to imagine everything that went on
almost twenty years ago.
The birds of Bon Scott’s desperate shrieks
with the mute eyes of legions of fans
rise to the ceiling
and I shut my eyes to feel the feathered voice,
to see the soft darkness of those who loved his music,
the outgrown school uniforms, keds, a baseball hat,
empty bottles, girls’ breasts on which
he planted his autographs.

Vasya Lakatos, Misha Stemba,
Andie and me –
all of my Bon Scott High School
now scattered around the globe
__________ like the birds of his voice
__________ like the cheaply copied pictures of icons
__________ like the naïve smiles and freckles on our faces
__________ like the magnetic reels, forever unwound

translated by oksana maksymchuk

the original poem

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