from Baudelaire

They won't come at night and torture you
in a dim cellar behind bars.
Sleep, criminal! There's nobody to ask
if you are guilty or not guilty.

Your judge is sleeping, your guards are asleep,
and your torturer is sleeping because it's his holiday,
and he won't spend it thinking about your life,
whether you are guilty or not guilty.

Sleep, murderer! Law sleeps inside the books.
State dust falls over the letters of
law...
Sleep! Nobody is going to disturb
your nervous dreams today.

So why are you screaming? What are you scared of? You!
Before what are you so eager to kneel?
Before consciousness? Away with it! It's only
stigmas on petty jerks.
But you!

Still not asleep...
Screaming...
Scared...

© Uladzimir Niakliayeu. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Valzhyna Mort. All rights reserved.