The Sarmatian Review

Poems by Colin Cleary

Moscow Dawn

Dawn rises over Moscow's hips
Reprieve from the night's torment
Impassable boulevards swell
Young women in short skirts, surprisingly pretty
Stalin's edifices stand watch
A million midnight knocks inaudible
Hundreds huddle with huge bundles
outside the train station


Yes I'm small
and easily dissolved in water
I sleep on the floor
of a borrowed room

Yet I see better
than the great men
from my porch perch
more in tune

Cold winds blow from the east
The chance perhaps lost
Gulag graves still unmarked
Millions unavenged beneath frost

So easy to revert
the old way besets
Gray masses slog thru slush
the curse of man that he forgets

New Town

Heroes and villains
and we the vast in-between
mix on stone streets
pushing baby carriages
where our grandparents fell

Lucky they
attacked on all sides
knowing the enemy
knowing the cowards from the brave
knowing what they must do

Home Army

I am the last of the forgotten ones
A dead man who slipped away
An alien roaming haunted streets
you pass me unknowing

I have seen too much
suffered too much
Your ways are strange to me
The river's gone down
My place, the other side

Crimean Vacation

Old men in rumpled suits
Devoid in their creation
Held your life and mine
in their fat fingers

Smiling thru gold-rimmed teeth
Their frigid view of man
missiles in hand
nearly snuffed us all out

Our problems, our vanities
are nothing
To what almost was
and could be again
Don't be misled:
it all still hangs by a thread

First Deputy

Amphibian eyes
wet and cold
bulge out under thick unseeing glasses
His scaly bald head
a vein atop it popping
as he makes his point, emphatic
eager executor
his enemies marked
in the shadows of his sagging jowls
The powers keep him near
but out of sight
He slithers uneasily
in the light

Warsaw Day of the Dead I

We approach mournfully from the street
with children, a life offering
Old ladies stoop half visible
lighting candles
flickering remembrances of
lives ripped away
by savages
Spirits swirl with autumn leaves
drawing strength from your tragedy

More Real

More real than health
the pangs and pains
A stray photo or letter
all that remains
Forgotten Ancestors
Herded eastward by night
Babes in arms
Mothers mad with fright
I have read it all and forgotten
I have glimpsed your truth
and turned away

Return to September 1998 issue
The Sarmatian Review
Last updated 09/24/98