Russian-American exchange-student reminiscence

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Russian-American exchange-student reminiscence
Pavel Malahov

Once the teacher of drafting

From a far away land

Heard the radio wafting

And he could not stay bland.

On the radio news

Of the culture and art

They said: «...nothing to choose,

We are really apart!»

«Russians live on their own,

Nothing common with us.

Yes, there is one fact lone:

The same planet to truss»

We share a planet» and thus

He exclaimed: «What the hack?!

We are mostly the same!

I can prove it in a sec!»[1]

So next summer he came.

He had a plan in his mind:

To show to both lands

That we were the same kind

In the way we wore pants.

Frankly speaking the country

Was in an economic funk,

But there were human beings

Not completely the punks.

He met people and talked,

Tasted «borsch»[2] and «bleeny»,[3]

And wherever he walked,

He discussed a shtany[4]

There were us in one place

(That was high school to say)

Met with him face to face.

I remember that day.

He was truly an American:

International guy,

Honest, kind, little lyrical –

Traits you never can buy.

He invited us all

To visit the U.S.A.

But «no vodka at all» –

That was rule to obey.

There were other suggestions,

But no other so cool,

So without a question

We've accepted the rule.

So we came and we saw,

What the man said was true:

They indeed wore the pants

Like all Russians would do.

We had fun, we had joy,

Met American teens.

Nothing seemed like a ploy.

I bought a pair of jeans.

So since then I still smile

When I put on my pants,

And with smile I say: «Hi,

My American friends!»

February – March, 2011


  1. in a second
  2. Borsch (борщ rus.) - red-beet soup
  3. Bleeny (блины rus.) - flat and wide pancakes
  4. Stany (штаны rus.) – pants


This poem is dedicated to Noel Napolilli, the teacher of drafting in Hutchison Career Center, Fairbanks, Alaska.