Life has become better, comrades. Life has become more cheerful.  Joseph Stalin

In the old days under Stalin
they’d arrest you in the midnight hours
of indifference, throw you into
a concrete room lit by a bare bulb
where questions framed in the form of fists
beat the truth out of you, beat
you into their truth
but things are so much better; now
under Putin, they arrest you
in the glare of mid-morning
drag you away with fanfare and confetti
post your picture to Instagram
complete with emoji smiley face and the caption
Making Russia Great Again!

In the old days under Stalin,
enemies of the people would be
executed in the basement of the Lubyanka
a bullet to the back of the head
or worked to death in some Siberian gulag
forgotten by family and God (or Marx)
but things are so much better; now
under Putin, they’ll whack you anywhere
on a bridge in front of the Kremlin *
outside your own apartment, or maybe **
in front of a famous hotel in Kyiv. ***          

In the old days of the Soviet Union
Stalin proclaimed himself a stable genius
crafted a cult of personality
out of carrots and pointed sticks
forced everyone to worship him as a god
but things are so much better: nowadays
in the new Russia
people can choose to worship Putin
as a genius
or a god. 

In the old days under Stalin
Communist elites partied in birch-shaded dachas
drove Russian-made cars
ate caviar and fish flown in on a special flight
while their corruption
bent the backs of the proletariat
beat its socialist dream to dust…
but things are so much better; now
under Putin…

                      capitalist billionaires
live in gold-gated mansions
buy yachts and luxury foreign cars
eat gourmet food fixed by personal chefs
while their corruption mocks
the poor, the poets, the prophets
brings the dead back to life
and pimps history into a glorious future. 

* Boris Nemtsov
** Anna Politkovskaya
*** Denis Vorenenkov

2 Responses to “Night And Day (Ночь И День)”

  1. Catherine Rustagi

    I’m blown away. Wow! Just sent you a friend request and email. I’d like to share this on my page.

    • Gregory Carey

      Thanks, Cathy. I remember you being very interested in Russian history and culture. With the rise of authoritarianism in Russia, and elsewhere, I decided to transmute my knowledge of history and politics into poetry. Glad you liked the poem.


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