The wineís merits, some folks say, are curable. I decided to taste it, opened the bottle, drank for awhile - Suddenly from there came out something really terrible, Maybe a green dragon, or maybe a crocodile. Well, if I already decided, Iíll drink it, Iím sure, But I deny those jokes As I never did before. But that disgusting thing, smelly, awfully long, Jumped around the living room, hopped and even ran, And then I heard it start a very mournful song, And the image quickly turned into a rude old man. Well, if I already decided, Iíll drink it, Iím sure, But I deny those jokes As I never did before. If I only had some time, maybe just an hour, Iíd call the street sweepers with brooms to join my game. I recalled the childrenís detective tale "Old Man Hattabych," And asked him, "comrade Ibn, what is your real name?" Well, if I already decided, Iíll drink it, Iím sure, But I deny those jokes As I never did before. "You can throw away your artifice, stop being so cunning, Hey, right now, answer me, who sent you here, you dirty ape? How did you get to be here in my wine bottle? Whom did you hide from? From whom did you escape?" That man bows to me, answers me politely, "I ainít a thief, nor a spy, Iím a spirit man. And for my freedom, if you want, I can beat up any jerk, I know how to fight and how to bring the pain." Then I understood - he is a genie, he can do miracles, He can tell me: "Iíll make you rich for a long, long time!" "Your proposition," I said, "is scanty and miserable, Later weíll punch the faces out, first I want some wine." But later on the miracles, due to this whole incident, I want a palace to the sky, golden, magic, tall!" But he said, "Sorry, pal, we werenít taught to do these things, . And besides punching the faces out, no magic at all." "Youíre lying, son of a bitch," I scream. And the spirit proves himself. He hit me once (a specialist), almost kicked my brains out... I, of course, ran from the house, called to the nearest precinct, "Guy is trying to kill me! What can I do?" I shout. So, they soon arrived, a dozen of them with sticks and ropes, Against the police he couldnít do a thing, not one bit. They took out a sick fellow, with his hands behind his back, And threw him into the "black raven"1 on a nearby street. What happened to him? Maybe he has hard time in jail. Itís better to sit in Butyrka2 than in a bottle of wine - But maybe by now he has taken up boxing, So Iíll visit the poor guy when I have the time.
1 a special police car.
2 the famous prison.
 
© Nathan Mer. Translation, 1991