Two Fates

Two Fates
Two Fates
Vadim Astrakhan
  • Artist:

    Vadim Astrakhan

  • Release Date:



Two Fates

Recorded in May 2009 – March 2012 in seven studios around the world, primarily Nine-String Studio in Brooklyn, NY.

Production, engineering, mix:  Yuri Naumov
Co-production:  Vadim Astrakhan
Mastering:  Dave Darlington

This album showcases much stronger emphasis on music.  The main philosophy behind it is:  “Make the music on the same level as the poetry.”  Once again it features an international cast of musicians, spearheaded by Naumov himself.

This album is free for downloading.
However, if you wish to support this project,
suggested donation is $15 via PayPal.

Download 2012 – Two Fates 

The CD is $15 US + $3 S&H, regardless of the quantity of discs that you order or your address, foreign or domestic.


  1. Race to the Horizon (Горизонт)  5.36
  2. If Your Friend (Песня о Друге)  3.00
  3. Tale of a Wild Boar (Про Дикого Вепря)  3.04
  4. Gypsy Blues (Цыганская)  6.36
  5. Fireride (Пожары)  4.20
  6. A Merry Funeral Song (Веселая Покойницкая)  4.32
  7. Death Convoy (Прикованные Шоферы)  5.15
  8. He Did not Return from the Battle (Он не Вернулся из Боя)  4.18
  9. Why Did the Savages Eat Captain James Cook? (Почему Аборигены Съели Кука)  3.08
  10. When the Great Flood Waters Had Subsided (Баллада о Любви) 8.15
  11. Two Fates (Две Судьбы) 7.04



To cover up the tracks they brushed away the dirt…
Now you can curse at me, deride me, and despise me.
The horizon is my finish line, the very edge of earth!
I’ll be the first to race to the horizon!
The wager had its terms.  Both parties made demands
And then shook hands in clear hesitation.
There’s really just one rule:  I ride until the end,
The highway’s end, and never change direction.

The shaft is reeling in the miles.
I ride along the power lines.
Still, every now and then I see a shadow:
A man in black, a black cat, a black widow.

They will not play it clean.  I know it for a fact.
I know exactly when they’ll try to slash my tires.
I know where, with a smirk, they’ll sabotage my act,
And where across the road they’ll stretch the wire.
The power – to the max!  The needles – sunk and jammed!
The sand, like bullets, dashes by my side, and
I just clamp the bar until my wrists are cramped.
There’s little time before the screws are tightened!

The shaft is reeling in the miles.
I ride straight up the power lines.
They’re coming down hard now, but I hope
That I will pass before they raise the rope.

My stomach is in knots:  the climax coming fast.
The asphalt starts to melt.  I smell the rubber burning.
The rope snaps in two:  I break it with my chest!
I am alive, and you can stop your mourning!
Whoever forced me to accept this crazy bet
In their dirty tricks are quite ferocious!
The gambling spirit’s high, but still, it must be said,
On slippery turns I am being cautious.

The shaft is reeling in the miles.
I tear across the lines and through the wires!
I only hope the losers will get wiser
When I show up on the horizon.

My destination point is still so far away.
I haven’t crossed the line, but I’m done with wires.
The rope didn’t cut between my vertebrae,
But suddenly at the wheels shots are fired!
I didn’t start this ride for money or for pride.
The question I’ve been asked was so enticing:
Is there indeed an end, a limit beyond sight?
Can one expand his borders and horizons?

The shaft is reeling in the miles.
The bullets I evade them with a smile!
But suddenly the brakes are failing – crazy!
And straight through the horizon I am blazing!



If your friend has turned out to be
Not a friend, not an enemy,
If you can’t tell right off the bat
If he’s good, or he’s bad,
Take him climbing and test his best.
You will know if he stands a chance.
When he’s roped-in with you, like glue.
You will see if he’s true.

If this guy on the slopes just mopes,
If he whines when it’s time to climb,
Sets one foot on the ice – no dice! –
Stumbles, breaks down, and cries,
He does not belong here – it’s clear.
Don’t you scold him for this – dismiss!
Don’t be wasting your time, and I’m,
I’m not wasting my rhyme.

If he did not complain of pain,
If he’d stubbornly scale the shale,
When beneath you the stone was gone,
He would groan but hold on!
All the way to the top, he kept up.
From the summit he gazed, amazed.
Then you know that you always can
Trust your life to this man!



In a kingdom where the sky’s always clear,
With no wars, no famine, no chickenpox.
Once a big-ass wild boar appeared:
Semi-bison, semi-bull, semi-ox.

Their asthmatic king was surly and ill –
Folks would run and hide whenever he sneezed! –
While the beast across the kingdom would kill,
Drag away and eat whomever it pleased.

So one day a declaration is issued:
“The beast must be subdued and stripped off his life!
So whoever shall embark on this mission,
He shall take the princess home as his wife!”

In the meantime, in this land of despair –
Make a left and then cut straight through the wood –
An ex-ranger parties hard in his lair,
Once a hero, later – fired for good.

There you always find a crowd of strangers:
Singing, laughing, drinking brandy from kegs.
Suddenly, the royal guards snatch the ranger.
To the palace of the king he is dragged.

There the king coughs at him:  “Listen here!
I don’t care what you do with your life!
By tomorrow, make the beast disappear,
Then the princess you’ll take as your wife!”

“Some reward!” the ranger just winces,
“I would rather get a tub full of gin.
I couldn’t care less about the princess.
With one hand tied I’ll do the beast in!”

But the king retorts:  “The argument’s over!
Take the princess, or I will have your head!
After all, by God, she’s my royal daughter!” –
“Kill me now,” the ranger says, “I won’t wed!”

As their argument is raging and fuming,
From the palace door come deafening knocks:
Fresh from eating every chicken and woman,
There stands that semi-bull, semi-ox.

On the booze the king gives up, and the badass
Slays the beast and then splits with his loot.
That’s how the princess and the king got embarrassed
By the ranger, now fired for good.



In my dreams shines yellow light.
I’m grunting and I’m turning.
Wait… wait… let me be tonight,
It’s better in the morning!
But the morning helps me not.
It brings me even lower:
Smoking on a empty gut
And drinking to hangover.

Hey, again and once again –
And one more time and over, and over, and again, and once again:
Drinking to hangover.

In a pub – a green wine cup,
And napkins look deceptive.
Paupers’, jesters’ paradise stop…
But I feel like a captive!
Church’s bench, dim lights and stench,
Deacons fuming incense…
In the church, all is wrong again,
Ever making no sense!

Run up the hill, impulsively:
That might make me merry.
At the top I see the alder tree,
And at the foot – the cherry.
Put some ivy on the slope,
Maybe that’d be worth it.
Something, anything for my hope…
Nothing’s ever perfect!

Run by the river, in the field,
The daylight’s dark; there’s no God!
In the field the clovers kneel
By the lonely road.
By the road the forest stands
With witches, casting hexes.
And there, at the road’s end, –
The gallows and the axes.
Somewhere the steeds in unison dance,
Reluctant and demure.
By the road it’s all wrong again,
And at the end – for sure!
The church, the pub, and so on:
Desecrate each other!
No, brothers.  Everything is wrong!
It’s all wrong, my brothers!

Hey again and once again,
And one more time and over and over, and again, and once again…



The nation is in flames!  The nation is consumed!
The flashes rage.  The sparks they bang and wallop.
As both Fate and Time just let their horses zoom.
The hoofs, they ring, the bullets sing, as the world is shivering
From this frenetic gallop!

The bullets chasing us are blind and dumb and mauling,
And, while our horses dashed, in flight they followed us.
The horseshoes were heating up, and loosening, and falling
To bring luck later to the one who finds them in the dust.

Like eels, the reins are thrashing in the air.
The hair locks are tangled up.  The thoughts are intertwined.
But then the wind would straighten up our hair
And clear the confusion in our minds.

We dared to escape the fiery cascade.
Both Fate and Time were racing by our side and grinning.
Rays of the sun have crossed the riders’ blades.
A poet took his steed to ride… The fire ebbed and then it died,
But the race was just beginning!

The world had never seen such madness and such frenzy.
The hoofs would pound the earth. The raindrops made it chime.
The stupid bullets, smelling blood, were now going crazy.
They’d suddenly wise up and hit the bull’s eye every time!

The hurricane in fury wails and moans.
Now, who is quicker?  Win or die!  This race is such a thrill!
Meanwhile the wind would rip the meat off our bones
And give our skeletons a pleasant chill.

Good Fortune lies ahead, and she will heal the sick.
Time charges straight, and not in circle, we’re hoping.
Tomorrow’s airy promises are bittersweet to pick.
An easy ride:  the foe is in sight, the friend is also by your side…
Fate is flying in the open!

The gullible Grim Reaper was taken for a jester:
He hesitated with his scythe and missed a sure shot.
The bullets started to fall back, as we were riding faster…
Oh, will we ever bathe in water, not in blood?

The wind is blowing quieter and sadder…
Both Time and Fate are wounded:  they both got their fill!

The winds, the tired horses in their saddles
Brought out the souls and bodies of the killed. (2x)
Delivered souls and bodies of the killed!



You can be driving, or even cab-riding,
Or maybe sauntering home from a bar.
In all of this automotive surrounding
You can’t tell what hits you or how hard.
Here’s a story the papers have mentioned:
Three men rode in a hearse yesterday.
Then – boom, an accident!  All three were injured.
The one in the coffin, of course, was OK.

Then, at the sendoff, the brass grated ears
And for the cantor the notes were too high.
The tears were phony, the words – insincere,
Only the man in the box didn’t lie.
His former boss, infamously dishonest,
Kissed him on the forehead, leading the pack.
But the deceased man, ever so modest,
Didn’t once kiss anyone back.

Guess what?  With speeches the rain don’t bother:
It started to shower.  Nature’s the boss!
Everyone ran and quickly took cover,
Only the dead man remained where he was.
He could care less!  That I truly admire.
Now, the living aren’t nearly as tough.
Only the dead men, the men that expired,
They are courageous.  They are “men enough”!

People can beat you and treat you wrongly.
They label you, put a stamp on your head.
Truly you’re safe in one place only:
Inside the coffin, presumably dead.
You can have a single or you can share.
Living conditions here don’t mean squat!
The dead don’t demand any special care.
Jolly good fellas!  I like them a lot.

Strict is the world of shadows and angels.
No worries, no fears beyond the grave.
Here we are, always living in danger,
Only the ones in the coffin are safe.
Some may accuse me of worshiping corpses.
No!  It’s just with fate I’m upset!
Some day someone will run all of us over,
Unless of course you’re already dead.



Field intelligence reports:  a large enemy convoy is headed for the frontline.  The trucks are driven by the POWs.  Each prisoner is chained to the wheel of his truck.  Your objective:  prevent the convoy from reaching…

“You’re a goner or you’re gonna drive!”
The choice before us, it is rather plain:
We have been sentenced to a slow life.
Moreover:  to this life we have been chained.

Yet hastily we swallowed their lie,
Believed without thinking, feeling reckless…
But is it really life, when you are tied?
And is it really choice, if you’re in shackles?

Deceitful mercy was bestowed upon us,
Like witch’s brew, made minds go outta whack.
Death from a friend – lurks behind the stones.
Death from a foe – stares us in the back.

The face is frozen, and the back is stiff.
Like pawns we’re silent and in anguish twitching.
And Shame (not so eager to forgive)
Is staring at us through the dirty windshield!

If only these shackles we could smash,
We’d then rip out the throats of the hated:
The ones who had us bound by the flesh
To life that is so grossly overrated!

Are we still hoping for a happy ending?
Against this chain we do not stand a chance.
Why are we knocking on the gates of heaven
With bare knuckles on the iron clamps?

They offered us an exit from the war,
But it came at a price beyond all reason:
We have been sentenced to the life of whores,
Through shame, through shame and dirty treason!

But such existence how can one cherish?
We will not build our happiness on thorns!
By agonizing life – we will not perish!
By certain death instead – we’ll be reborn!



It’s a beautiful day…  Why is everything wrong?
And it feels like it will not get better.
Same forest, same river, same air on my tongue,
But he did not return from the battle!

Now it doesn’t matter, which one of us won
Our arguments, quarrels… our prattles.
Only now do I miss him, now when he is gone,
When he did not return from the battle.

He was awkward at times.  He sang out of tune,
Like an empty can, he always rattled,
Always kept me awake, always got up at dawn,
But last night didn’t return from the battle.

It’s a trivial thing:  only now it sinks in.
And I realize how much he mattered.
Like a fire blown out by the rush of the wind,
He did not return from the battle.

As if out of prison, spring finally broke…
I called out, when the company settled:
“Brother, pass me a smoke!” – But to silence I spoke…
He did not return from the battle!

Our fallen comrades will always protect!
Our dead – stand sentinel for us!
Trees stand blooming in blue as the skies reflect,
As the skies reflect in the forest.

We would share our space and our life, everything:
Time for two and two spoons by the kettle.
Now it’s all to myself, still I can’t help but think
That I did not return from the battle!
Now it’s all to myself, yet somehow I think:
I did not return from the battle!



Some Polynesian tribes believe that one can obtain another person’s qualities, by eating his body parts.

Hey, boys, don’t you sit there in silence.
Let your girlfriends go before you puke!
Remember when to the Hawaiian Islands
The ship arrived, led by Captain Cook.
On those beautiful Hawaiian Islands
Following their healthy appetite,
Right beneath a palm tree the Hawaiians
Devoured each other every night.

Why did the savages eat Captain Cook?
You cannot find an honest answer in a book.
To me, that incident was just a fluke.
They had the munchies and ate Captain Cook.
Meanwhile, their chieftain, named “Dirty Duke,”
Screamed that the ship there had a tasty cook!
Historians conclude a blunder happened!
The cook they wanted… but ate the captain!
And then there was very little talking.
They climbed aboard, and without knocking,
They pushed the door in, took a closer look,
With clubs in hands… Bye-bye, Captain Cook!

Another explanation is, in fact,
That he was eaten out of respect!
There was a shaman in the tribe, named “Dirty Crook,”
Hawaiian savages – he kept them on a hook!
“Whoever eats James Cook,” the shaman raved,
“He will become then just as gentle, smart, and brave!”
Somebody caught the Captain in a nook
Then cast a stone:  and no more Cook!

But now the savages are feeling low:
Breaking their spears, breaking their bows.
Indeed, after his qualities they took.
All their nasty ways they have forsook!
And can’t forgive themselves for eating Cook!


When the Great Flood waters had subsided,
Returned to their boundaries below,
From the foam that land and sea divided
Emerged mysteriously – Love!
And up into the air softly glided,
And in the airy element dissolved.

The dreamers (yes, they still exist)
Inhale insatiably this mist,
Unheeding of rewards they might be reaping.
They breathe and do not even think
Yet suddenly they fall in sync,
With similar uneven breathing.

For lovers I will lay down fields and groves.
Let them dream and sing their one motif.
I can breathe and therefore I love.
I can love and therefore I live.

There will be wanderings and tribulations.
The Land of Love has no boundaries.
Knights errant enter it in veneration.
She will be testing their loyalties:
Demanding distances and separations,
Depriving them of rest, and sleep, and peace.

But they can’t be diverted from their way.
They know the price.  They have agreed to pay –
With their very lives in this endeavor! –
Preserving, letting nothing shred
The magical translucent thread
That has connected them forever!

For lovers I will lay down fields and groves.
Let them sing their beautiful motif!
I can breathe and therefore I love.
I can love and therefore I live.

All those who in love forever drowned,
You cannot reach them in their world serene.
Corrosive words and slanders run unbound.
They feast on blood, and they’re never clean.
But let us lower candles to the ground
For those who perished from this love unseen.

Their souls will roam in flowers of joy,
In harmony their voices shall be joined,
Eternity in every inhalation!
They’ll greet each other with the faintest smile
Upon the bridges, narrow and fragile,
Upon the brittle crossroads of creation!

The chosen few!  The tempest in their blood
Knocked them down and from the dead revived.
For, by heaven, if you haven’t loved,
Then you haven’t breathed and haven’t been alive!


TWO FATES (Rotten and Crooked)

Lived my life without a care, walked the world for twenty years
Where the wind would blow.
Trouble-free, just keeping busy…  Downstream I sailed easy,
Going with the flow.
Sucking life straight from the udder, I’ve let go both the rudder
And the wooden oar.
Hornets, horseflies, and mosquitoes irritated me a little,
But I would ignore.

At the bank I saw men gesture, as they offered me a rescue
Lying on the boat’s bottom, my moonshine out of the bottle
I sucked blissfully.
The banks flowed by the boat, as I was pleasuring my throat,
Drinking myself blind.
After having one too many, next to me I saw a granny
Of the ugly kind.

I sat up.  I looked around.  The boat’s nose ran aground
In a rotten place.
In my eyes the daylight blackened, and the old hag madly cackled
Straight into my face.
Overcome with mortal fear, I called out:  “Who is here?”
Sobbing dismally.
Once again she cackled madly and to me responded gladly:
“‘Rotten’ is my name!

“Cross your heart if you are wary, praying to the Virgin Mary,
“She can’t save you now!
“All those who forsake their oars drift to me, to rotten shores,
“Like this horrid slough!”
She and I, in common harness, stumbled through the woods in darkness,
Breathing heavily.
She kept stomping onward blindly, by my side, obese and ugly…
Pure devilry!

Suddenly I saw a second, and she ominously beckoned –
Evil, crooked wench!
“You’re walking to your graveyard!  Poor lush, I’m gonna save you!
“Tears I shall stanch!”
“Who are you?” – “They call me ‘Crooked’” – “You know, ma, you surely look it!” –
“Come to me, dear son!
“Don’t you worry that I’m limping, crooked, hunched, one-eyed, and tripping,
“I’m your medicine!”

Even though she looked so foul, tearing up my guts I howled:
“Save me from the fall!
“I’m tethered here, look!  Rescue me, by hook, by crook!
“You’ll be paid in full!”
[I] climbed her back, round as a turtle’s, but Old Crooked walked in circles –
Those uneven legs!
I was falling, crawling, wriggling, taunted by the gleeful giggling
Of those demon hags!

To the pit opened the hollow, brightly lit, a world of sorrow:
And the pit was hell!
“Listen, Crooked, here is a pint.  I will pay you back in kind.
“Thanks for all your help!
“You too, Rotten, Devil’s daughter!  Have some of this holy water
“To forget your grief!
“All this fat is gonna kill ya!  Drink ten glasses of this swill, ya
“Gonna get relief!”

So both witches, Crooked, Rotten, latched onto the jar of rotgut.
Soon I heard them snore.
I retreated, slipping, sliding, and behind the tree stumps hiding,
Back towards the shore.
Grabbed the boat, began to row, rowed like mad against the flow,
At myself amazed.
As my Fates the bottle relished, in their spleen they both perished
Till the end of days!


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