The highwayís swept and washed - itís shining, clean and dry, Iíll race today on it - like dough the stakes are rising; My finish lies ahead - the land there meets the sky... I have to be the first on the horizon! Iíve bet Iíd win the race, though some have promptly said: ďThe betís unjust and far from being sterling...Ē The terms are strict - I must keep racing straight ahead With no digression and with no turning. So short are miles - Iím spooling them on tires And driving parallel to the electric wires... Strange shadows would flash before the engine - From cats to someone dressed in black theyíre ranging. Into my wheels, I know, they gonna poke sticks And they will cheat on me in their phony mode, On me they gonna play a lot of dirty tricks And even string the rope across the road! Gas pedal - to the floor! The engine gets the fits! A pebble at this speed becomes a bullet! I grasp the wheel so hard that cramps would seize my fists I have to hurry lest they block me fully. So short are miles - Iím spooling them on tires, Now driving vertical to the electric wires... They fasten bolts - they really get my goat! - And want to string a rope against my throat! Those crooks who made me race and take this rigid bet Are base and mean in their undertaking; Excitement gets me drunk but even with all that When passing curves and corners I am braking! And asphalt melts beneath, the tires boil and run, A sucking fright my heart and liver clutches... My naked chest has torn the rope they had strung, But Iím alive - stop playing mourning marches! So short are miles - Iím spooling them on tires And I still drive in spite of cords and wires... Damned losers must behave a little wiser When I arrive the first to the horizon! Yet the horizon is as ever far away, Iíve beaten cords but I must always keep war footing; The rope didnít break my vertebra - but they Sporadically from bushes are still shooting. I race for no prize - to nothing I pretend! For me the drive itself is tantalizing... I have to understand if Earth has got the end And if itís possible to widen the horizon! So short are miles - Iím spooling them on tires No one has beaten me so far - whoever tries! But brakes are breaking down - itís a coda! - I sweep through the horizon in short order!
© George Tokarev. Translation, 2001
Edited by Robert Titterton