Comrade Strelnikov And The Muted Joys Of Forced Confession

There was a trial, of course;

Perfunctory, but adhering to decorum and required niceties.

I played my part according to the script,

Eschewing the opportunity to ad-lib denials and denunciations

(What are a few more lies in a life already marred

By hundreds, perhaps thousands of others?)

Choosing instead to mouth the words used by scores before me

Indicting oneself for trespasses against state and party

And accepting the judgment of my peers

(For we are, to the last man, all peers now.)


I might have, I suppose, returned to my roots, as it were,

Some small, dark flat in some banlieue ouvriere,

An angry young man mellowing into conservative curmudgeonry,

But sometimes a full stomach can be every bit disorienting as hunger,

Convincing one he is doing the work of the masses

Long after it is obvious that neither he nor they have any clue

As to what such a vocation might actually entail.

You may as well ask a flower to return underground,

To that dark earth rife with the excrement of worms and dead seed pods.


I have no intention of being rousted at some near-future pre-dawn,

To be dragged like some bewildered calf through dewy scrub grass

In order to be haphazardly blindfolded and thrown against a wall;

I will leave at a moment of my own choosing

(The guards will facilitate my undertaking, as most of them

Engage in a tidy little side business as emissaries

To those who choose to book their own passage to the other side.

One cannot blame them—they do what they must to get by.)

You may take it as one last dereliction of duty,

One final missed opportunity to exhibit some trace of valor.

All well and good, then; having once held the club,

I have no appetite for assuming the role of the doomed bovine

Trotting the final steps of the ramp leading to the abbatoir.


7 thoughts on “Comrade Strelnikov And The Muted Joys Of Forced Confession

  1. You are the master of character sketch – each ego speaks with such veracity.
    This is a line worth jotting down: “But sometimes a full stomach can be every bit disorienting as hunger”. This speaks of truth.

  2. Do I detect some bourgeois desire to direct one’s fate independently of the common will? Or at least, to do so in some particular? For shame. What’s good for moo is good for you. 😉

  3. hee hee….I read this piece once through, then read it backwards: third, second then first stanza. This poem is a palindrome. Very interesting. I also enjoyed the strong first person perspective that you’ve employed here, Kortas. I definitely get the forced confession piece. I wonder if you started with the title or titled it afterward? Great write. Thanks for linking it to real toads. viva la

  4. Oh good God! A palindrome of synonymous lines!! I have just thrown my pen out the window, and my keyboard to the floor. I’ll never write again!!

    You are an anomaly of intellectual brilliance, and I give up…..

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