Tag Archives: dystopia

The Death of Stalin

Sergei Ivanovich was once “tovarich”

and hummed along to the “Internationale”,

he once was nearly bloodied at

at the barricades,mentioned in official

despatches he became a Party “hero”;

Sergei Ivanovich grew accustomed

to snap-heeled salutes in the

Kolyma Peninsula,1936 or thereabouts,

supervising prisoners’slashed-vein evenings

and their bowls of tepid soup

and the twenty kilo boulders being

passed along hand to hand:

and then,

They came for him;

the official ZIL saloon arrived

bringing with it The Silver Braid,

who lit their cigarettes tracing

scarlet arabesques in the gloomy dusk,

Sergei Ivanovich didn’t keep them waiting,

bowl-spasmed funk robbed him of

his steadfast demeanour as he opened

the door and the ZIL saloon

with its incense of iodine and

brown leather slinked back to

the wolverine forest where in

the night memories lose themselves,

and in the morning are found,

covered in quicklime..


Author’s footnote:-

I originally posted this as “Stalin Calls” on 19 July 2011.Only the title and featured image have been “re-booted”.

Encounter with a Stranger

The Stranger with the shabby overcoat
and hangdog expression asked me
if I could spare him a few reminiscences,
I replied that the change in my pockets
changes with the changing tide,
though I could offer him
some reflections instead;

The Stranger sat back in his chair
ordered himself another absinthe
and began whistling some nameless tune
while he waited for his drink to arrive;

” If all our pain and sorrow
only came on the morrow
would we set the alarm late
or not at all?
taking the chance that
vicissitudes had all
somehow passed us by
while we were fast asleep.”

” And were we to store all
our tears shed in our lives,
how big would the bottle have to be?
Could we claim back some pennies
if we returned it empty? ”

The Stranger glanced askance
at his watch where time had
stopped years ago,
he wondered aloud where
the waiter might’ve got to
with his drink?

” If we don’t feel the suffering of others,
how will we know if we have blood in our veins? ”

The Stranger got up,
bid me adieu;
after he’d left
I saw in the mirror that
there was no longer a reflection there
of me.

Notes on the Passage of Time

In empty rooms

filled with the scent

of nicotine and loneliness,

once shining

memories of bronze

turned verdigris

through harsh winters;




the dots and dashes

of life

rendered indecipherable

by the passing of time;

Its fragile tones

a melancholy tune

on an old music box

that echoes in empty rooms;

Bereft of





Lemonade on the verandah after supper,
discussing Rousseau and Voltaire
before retiring to the soft embrace
of an easy langour;

Expecting tomorrow and its harvest
of promise,the lush savannah
the tall sheaves and sturdy horses,
and yet that tomorrow never came;

No matter how much we believed
and what we believed was enough,
but what they believed was much more,
we recall with wounding monotony
those men of honour
whose sabres broke too soon,
those chivalric figures whose
steeds wearied in the long campaign;

We recall those shards of splendour smashed,
held captive in museum-cased aspic,
the haunting echo of a terpsichorean melody
vanished and gone into The Wilderness;

Mene mene tekel upharsin
those heirs of promise,
weighted in the balance
and found wanting;

The visions of Daniel,
the words of Ezekiel,
prophetic and predestined,

Lemonade on the verandah after supper,
discussing Rousseau and Voltaire
before awakening to
the dawn of a new day,
and grey.

Of Clocks and Faces

There are clocks older than time,

that would show us how little of it

there is left to spend,

were we only capable of

deciphering their numerals

we might hasten more

linger less decide sooner

hesitate only when we are done;

There are faces staring

into mirrors devoid

of any expectations,

their inscrutable reflections refusing

to conform to any predetermined

notions of content or structure;

the staring faces see nothing

not even themselves.

The Library at Alexandria

What words were they

that were lost amid

intolerance’s rage?

Whose verses,knowledge,wisdom

were swept into oblivion

by the fires’ wrath?

A pyre stacked

with a million scrolls

the deeds and glories of Ages past

gone into the long forgetting;

and in the Now and Forever

Hypatia remains exiled

in the garden,

where the Sun refuses to shine.

Empires Falling

Forever falling

falling into the far below,

far far below

where the embers glow;

Falling from grace

grace and favour

favour, renown and that glory

they once grasped

made their own,

adorning it with their songs

and stories,monuments and laws;

All now falling

falling into that far below,

from whence they came

to which they go;

sweeping like rain

howling like wind

reaping that harvest

empires have sown.


YELLOW taxicab lights
fire-flying across the
Gothic span pumping
metal adrenalin into
the heart of a City
surrounded by
skeletal Goliaths
their electric rage
surging down humming
wires criss-crossing
searchlighted avenues
and shuttered alleyways
cluttered arteries where
buzzing BLUE copcar lights
gasp for breath amid
rotten flesh late night bars
and crowded vibrant streets
aisles of reverence
down which worshippers throng
beneath clouds of incense
floating high above
the dark dark City and
its YELLOW taxicab lights..

The Beggars’ Waltz

Certainty crumbles into dust,

the meaning escapes from our lives

like air from a punctured balloon;

the last of our threadbare hopes

tears asunder,

leaving a gaping hole

that we patch with

remorse and desire,

repairing outward appearances

so that others might

see us differently as we

in turn see them,

and they too are torn;

and so begins again

the slow waltz of beggars,

prying coins from the

feeble grasp of Tomorrow’s largesse;

undermining its certainty

until certainty is gone,

and with the coins we’ve pried

we purchase our next

punctured balloon.


Broken Words


listen to

voices that can’t be heard,

their soundless mutterings contain

certainty possibly even the truth;

Everything creates new perspectives,

new words making us

strangers in our own land,

making us strangers

in our own lives;

leaving us trying to recreate feelings

that might never really have existed;

In the closing shot

the camera trembles,

nightmaring us

alive again.