Made with

Eugene Ostashevsky


                 Попугай попугай попугай попугай

                 Давай попугай как следует

                 Извергов низвергай визг извергай

                 Выспренно попугай повторяй


                 Попирать помаленьку

                 Напирать на попугая

                 Пропирать попугая

                 Подпирать опять

                 Отпирать свое


                  this is no time for etymology. A Turkish dreadnaught has lifted her hatches

                  and mefore be I see, in rOw upOn rOw, the mOuths of hOmOlOgOus Ordnance.”

“Dreadnaughts don’t have such hatches, боцман.”

“Who you gonna believe, your picture dictionary or my own eyes?!”

“I got it

from the Russ-

i        a        n.” 

“What, e x c u se m e,

where did you

get that word?” 

“O shall we go на абордаж,

captain, my captain?” 

<he do the абордаж

in different voices>

Artwork by Eugene Timerman

Rattapallax is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Designed on Racontr platform.


“Who’s that singing so unnotingly in the crow’s nest? Ebony mother! Ahoy there in the

      crow’s nest!”

“What—I can’t hear you—I’m in the crow’s nest.”

“You want cat o’ √80 tails?”


“Cat. 8.9442719… I’ll never get to ‘tails’ that way!”

“Afraid not!”

“So it has a frayed knot! Where can I get a new cat in the middle of the sea?’

“Captain the Turkish dreadnaught is bearing down upon us.”

“Боцман, how can she be bearing down upon us if you just saw her port holes?”

“I am not responsible for my language, sir.”

“Ebony mother! Who gave me this Джэк Спайсер for a боцман?”


“Twas the market, sir. Freedom of trade, you said, freedom of trade, pirates don’t believe in

      union wages. So you hired me. I’m not in the боцман’s union. By training I’m a parrot.”

 ☞I am shocked that he’s so selfish as to bring up wages at this time!

“Captain the Turkish dreadnaught is frantically signaling.”

“Find out what they want.”

“Captain I don’t speak Turkish except for invective… Ahoy there, Türbanlı Atatürk, Maykl



“But what about your flag?”

“It used to be Russian but we can’t find the hammer and the Armenians ran off the sickle


“O half-power sickle! O cowardly dreadnaught! O Battleship Potemkin Village! По морям,

      по волнам, сегодня «τὸ πᾶν», а завтра–то пропал!”

“Exactly, we’re the come-n-goyim!”

“What meaning do they speak of, боцман?”

“None. They let their words get the best of them, sir.”

“In that case, the inapposite punning of these pundits shall get no plaudits from this pirate,

       боцман. For I’m pooped of these language games! I want meaning!”

“You read my thoughts like a book, sir. de defecatione oracvlorvm, ‘Great Pun is

      dead,’ by Plut, if you allow it, sir.”

“And so, my pretty parrot, get the pirate ship ready for conflict!”

“Ahoy, all hands on deck!... Up, dogs, that’s not what it means!”

“Ebony mother! На абордаж! Don’t fire until you see the signs of their whiteout!”

“It does not

sound very Russ-

i        a        n.” 


How Many Pirates Does it Take to Calculate the Value of Pi? 

By Natalia Fedorov

It takes two at least two to make a rhyme. A pirate and a parrot, by a poet Eugene Ostashevsky and an artist Eugene Timerman, and a story of these two verbal creatures “goes way back, to the ancient Geeks and possibly even backer.”

Haven’t you ever been tempted to stick together California, calibration, calligraphy, and cauliflower? Einstein, Eisenstein, Gertrude Stein, Frankenstein 
and Wittgenstein – even more tempting? What is the connection between the  rules of the world and the rules of the words? Every child knows, every folk etymologist knows, every absurdist knows – nonsense – in case something sounds similar it is connected. The rules of The Pirate are the rules of sound:

You violated the language game!” “Yes, yes, yes,” said the pirate, pealing transgressively, triumphantly and triadically, “but I was playing another language game all along, shivarrrgh

Velimir Khlebnikov in Nasha osnova (1920) believed it is possible to find the meaning of a sound, if one collects all the words containing it “all the remaining sounds will multiply each other, and the common meaning these words have, will be the meaning of Ч.” But Ostashevsky, remarkable translator of Russian avante-garde, absurdist and postmodernist poetry, takes it even futher rhyming in all the languages he inhabits: English, Russian, German, some Latin.

Clashing together the multitude of languages we don’t get closer to understanding the number of pirates in question. However, the multitude of roles of the letter is becoming more transparent, as if one language is just a layer on the other language. There always might be another book in a given book, but in other language. This way The Pirate has an extra graphical level. Ostashevsky writes in Russian on his English text with common characters of Latin and Cyrillic alphabets: НЕВЕСОМОСТЬ CВЕТА НЕТ. Some tricks are involved small «b» plays the role of the «soft sign».







Seemingly emotional phonemographic writing, reminding of group 41˚ or constructivist books, it is, in fact, an additional story about two cosmonauts’ fight (Russian and American?); then someone says they have a map of cosmos, while other someone answers - they have not. Thus, the rest of the hidden Russian text follows the rules of the dialogue both with the written language, and the chosen reader.

What is the source of pleasure in this postmodern to the bottom and absurdist to the top piece? Mere humor, the fleshy texture of language revealed for you joyfully, with the animation's all possible body and plot movements, in the way that you want to repeat it. The long known pleasure of rhyme: and it is contageous, outrageous and (to be continued by you).