POETRY AND SORROW IN A “RIGHT-TO-SING” STATE
The enemy will continue to infiltrate Literature.
—Comrade Stavsky (head of the Soviet writers’ union), 1937
The muse strikes
back, but doesn’t walk off the job
for a cost-of-living increase
and insurance. Empire’s the thing
that totters forward with its mouse
ears on, paterfamilias
of so many little feet become a constant
perfume. And yet: no praise,
no blame. The grass is still
green to the cheek. And we are heirs
to grace which made the tummler
stay at his Borscht Belt post
and dance. Alack, alas. What say you
soldiers of the lyre, we wait
for some o’clock and then stop
singing? Oh I would stop, oh yes
and let the feckless meadow fill
with xylophones and snow, the striped
tail of the muse slap in her burrow.
from the book, Hotel Imperium (Georgia).