Journalism In Verse

2019-09-29t131529z_1990393954_rc12e5a43540_rtrmadp_3_russia-politics-protests

Gulag

in Europe/World by

Ulyanovsk: birth place of Lenin
eternal flame burning star pillar
fiery chasm continuing Stalin’s legacy
            graveyard of the Volga.

War whoop and cry as his children
look on helplessly, in the middle
of the street, blow after hammer blow
            indented ear, eyebrow folding inward

blood flowing on potatoes sold
on the road side. I bury my head
faux-fur lined collar in fear of being
            next. Shapka pulled low, covering,

hiding, as though my face would
testify that I am different, not pure,
a foreigner with regime criticism
            in my head the butcher’s blood.

Moscow: angry run-off of thawed
justice take to the streets to speak
against the growth of the archipelago
            40,000 pages too many

have already been written. History
looped with bloody beaks, Gules
balding to the vulture that scavenges
            sinister claw holding the imperial orb

this two-faced bird of prey putting on
a solid face for the world to see
while chaining its heroes to torture
            for giving a fire to warm the darkness

timeless they’ve hung, but I have to believe
Heracles has come, that freedom has
come. An end to this violent cycle.

 

Poet’s Note

This poem combines an experience of violence, I witnessed in Russia with the protests and the long history of Russian gulags. The archipelago is a reference to Solzhenitsyn’s documentation of gulag survivors’ stories.

________

Michael DeMaranville is a modern nomad having lived in Russia, China, Vietnam, Korea and, currently, Qatar. His work has been featured in more than a dozen magazines across the globe.

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