The weather crucially Has turned out beautifully And then a funny thought appeared out of the blue to me - But not of God above Or all that cosmic stuff; We’ve heard so much about that rubbish that we’ve had enough. Folktale, myth or an illusion, I’ll sing it with a chorus or just singly; Listen to this tale for your amusement About a certain man, Mr McKinley. He’s not a cowboy, superhero or footballer; He’s just a little human being like we all are. Is he a hero or a bum to put it simply, Our charming little friend, Mr McKinley? So when our story’s told, weigh up the evidence, Give us your verdict, drawing on your commonsense. So are we in agreement? If that’s so Then guten Morgen, hola and hello! You’ve got around your bed Walls papered cosy red, You watch the programmes on TV for empty little heads; Your half-hour’s exercise Awaits you when you rise, You jump, pull faces and do press-ups on the plastic tiles. Now you rush to make your morning bus! Your bones creak - you’re stepping on the bellows. In this world how many of you beat the crush Merrily progressing with your elbows? Like you were ill, you snort exhaust fumes in the traffic The way you’d hoover up cocaine if you were addicts. But you’re still slim, the rat race makes you lighter - It hones your bodies, it makes your spirits brighter. You’re stepping over fellow human beings But you’re succeeding, still you are succeeding In barking at your contacts on your way: "Buongiorno!", "Buenos dias!" and "Good day!". Waiting to be inspired You drag yourselves inside Your boxy blocks like you were flocks of lambs for sacrifice. Forgetting everything You work with zeal and vim So busy making things and breaking things your senses swim. Little people with no influence! Someone drunk, his stomach full of acid, As you’re small but nonetheless omnipotent Has given you the name "the faceless masses". In fields and factories, in schools and corporations, You’re still the members of some grey conglomeration. And in your break, your hour of real freedom, You gobble sandwiches as fast as you can eat them. Well, these same sandwiches are tools of your profession, And so bon appetit as you digest them! Before you looms a century of woe, Still guten Morgen buddy even so. Family necessities, Stylish accessories, Neck scarves and belts and all the gorgeous fashion that there is... Prices are drifting up, Your wife is kissing up - You’d throw your hands up in the air if you could lift them up. Squeaky-voiced the wizard tailor bows Telling you a price that quite amazes - In response you turn your wallet inside out, Calm as you were pushing up the daisies. Your routine’s deathly dull and even holidays are; You and your wife are glum like you were in a graveyard. From frozen walls, from advertising spaces, You’re watched by hoards of massive, happy faces, And from shop windows superdads are smiling, In limousines and slacks with leisure styling. Contented folks on billboards in the sky All greet you with a friendly "hi-di-hi!". How are you going to pay? How can you break away? Are you still hoping when you’re fifty now if you’re a day? Don’t count on human love, Just pray to god above - He always sends another child although you’ve had enough. Three, then four of them, then even six... Clearly little sons are what you’d ask for! Where’d the world be without all those little kids - Little devils, cherubs, little rascals. You smile at clothes and magazines’ front covers, But you believe there’ll be some miracle or other. Don’t think, old pal, that everything’s our burden, That children die somewhere - still they’re not your ones; For you’d jump from a cliff if you thought deeply But life goes on and has to go on sweetly. So take a break and smoke your cares away! Bonjour, old fellow, hola and good day! Oh funny little guys, Your pockets bare inside; You people eating in the restaurants each day and night - Bottomless moneybags, Billions in stocks and cash, You swell the crowds that fill the seats at every sporting match. You’re the ones who keep things spinning round - Governments and armies, legal systems; Little people, you’re like oysters slipping down Greedy throats belonging to the big guns. They treat the little man with so much care and caution That writing checks they just forget to put a nought on. The former tradesman standing for election Will on occasion throw you a reception, For you’re not shadowy and you’re not faceless When it’s your votes determining their places. And "little" is a lovely little word - Spit in the speaker’s face each time it’s heard. It’s high time that that word fell out of use! Hello, McKinley! How do you do!
© Margaret & Stas Porokhnya. Translation, 2008