By Татьяна Мурадова
Welcome to Russia circa 1985.
Ask but do not answer. Survive.
Positions are fickle. Open lies.
Wolf eyes. Uniform responses.
Family fuck ups and generations of militants.
Socialist foxes sucking on the nothings of your neighbor.
Zone out. Fade out.
You only exist in the reflection of your money.
Don’t give input, just spend,
Push past the thieves and the games.
Don’t switch sides, nothing will change.
I come from a battered peoples
I may look white but I am muddied grey
From centuries of waiting for a parent
To teach my people how to live.
How to take a land so spanning and reign it right
How to use the resource full and make it useful
How to take the money out of politicians pockets and put it into schools.
My sixteen year old cousin doesn’t go to school
She skips class to post pictures of herself on Tumblr
She skips class because no one taught her not to
Because the chances of her getting into college
Ride on the bank account of her mother
And the ride is short
And admission is partial.
I do not know how to tell her to behave in a country that teaches her daily to do what’s easy
To try less.
To play dumb.
To leave it to those in charge.
I do not know how to love a country that gets away with murder, daily
I do not know how to love a jungle
A country with no name, just letters
that get shifted with each new fuckhead president
who promises my people rights
and shits on them more than the last.
I do not know how to love a coward,
A country that does not fight back
A country that jails Robin Hood and cheers for the joker
A country that gives itself a bad rep
With people that make me look bad.
I am so sick of being related to
The winter cold
The bad guy in every fucking movie
The mail-order bride
The Pussy Riot
The misuse of the word babushka, which means grandmother, you fuckers
The word sneaky
The word evil
The word corrupt
The word communist
The word red
The word hate
The word fear
I have been soiled with hate and fear for years.
I had to put 5 thousand miles between us to feel safe,
And I’m still scared.
But I miss her,
And every time I go there, I feel her underneath my feet, weeping.
Laughter is universal.
So is pain and pride.
But somehow here, at home, everything is more alive.
Even the cigarette buds and pollen that pollute this city
Layer by layer.
But next to the industrial remnants stands a tree more beautiful than your own mother
And you breathe a sigh of relief
And remember about hope
And what could be
If only they cared more.
If only you cared more. Apprehension lingers on your spine
Like food stuck in your teeth
And Pushkin’s “Land of Moscow”comes to mind:
“And where the luxury was thriving,
In shady parks and gardens, in the past,
Where myrtle was fragrant, limes were shining,
There now are just coals, ash, and dust.”
He’s right, the scent of dust is overbearing but what about the rose haw and the conifers?
There are still things to fight for.
Татьяна Мурадова was born in Moscow and moved to Texas when she was seven. She studied at the University of Texas at Austin, where she attended several creative writing workshops and poetry courses. Since moving to New York, she has performed in open mic and slam poetry events at Louder Arts and Urbana, as well as at fashion shows such as Jag&Co and spoken word events such as G2G Artists Choice.