VLADIMIR PUTIN INVADES MY DREAMS
By Andrew Hidas
Fresh off the shingles vaccine,
my arm sore, body leaden,
spirit damp and porous,
Vladimir Putin invades my dreams
through a long night I long to repel.
I want him out! gone! no more of
those lizard eyes and pursed lips
bearing down on my weakened
defenses, looking to run
roughshod over all I hold dear.
Groaning to a barely wakened state,
I lapse again, the nightmare resuming,
the assault relentless, Putin throwing
all he owns (and he owns everything)
into a fire of his own making
as lives all around us burn.
Names cross my consciousness
like some Ticker of Times Square,
dissidents facing the unspeakable
of poisonings and prison,
their courage inconceivable
under Putin’s soulless gaze.
Dawn looms and the thrashings of night
only intensify, pleas from the gloaming
to find my voice in the sharp relief of light,
directing a glare of accusation and outrage,
accosting the nightmare, cursing the incursion,
holding evil to account yet again in a struggle
as old and endless as time.
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On the old & endless as time side of things:: I had Timothy Snyder on YouTube doing The Making of Modern Ukraine at Yale last fall, :::: you are good. Hive a nice day.
Thanks, Jim—have heard Snyder a time or two so will check into that. Had an impulse to alert you about what I took to be a typo in that “Hive a nice day…” but after a moment’s deliberation figured/realized it was intentional and that I rather enjoy the image of “Hiving,” which I plan to do with all that a luscious spring Saturday deserves.
Oh when will we ever awake from this collective fever dream? Given that this monster is being lauded and admired for his “toughness” and ruthless tactics by certain prominent, outspoken members of our own democracy, I have to wonder.
I imagine the Ukrainians are wondering as well.
How we think the United States could be immune to such a mindset, to these tactics is truly, horrifyingly, mystifying.
Yes, part of what inspired this piece—besides the troubled sleep the other night—was catching up to the ex-president’s recent comments reflecting his longtime, unstinting admiration for Putin (“genius, very savvy, peacekeeper, obvious love for Ukraine, we had a very good relationship…”) and two other tyrants currently bestriding the world stage whom he also deeply admires—Xi Jinping, and Kim Jong Un. Trump leaves zero doubt what he most covets is their unbridled authoritarian power to eliminate opposition and do as he pleases, a fact that should trouble our country a great deal more than it currently does.
Your image “Names cross my consciousness like some Ticker of Times Square” is so effective on two levels. First, shredded strips falling like snow; a cold blizzard blocks out light. Second, ticker tape parades welcome home our heroes like Charles Lindbergh and Jesse Owens. Don’t Navalny, Yashi and Kara-Murza deserve such a welcome as well? Nightmares? It almost goes beyond that into a twilight zone kind of madness. Putin rivals those haunting images of Hitler spewing his hatred to thousands amidst cheers and “heil” salutes.
Yes they do! (Dissidents deserve ticker tape parades.) It’s but one of the heart-breaking aspects of Putin’s monstrous regime that he jails and tortures those who dare to tell the truth about him. It’s hard to fathom the courage of these three and many more who knew the great peril of speaking out and yet persisted, still doing so behind bars while facing long prison terms under horrid conditions. Navalny and Kara-Murza both with wives and children—talk about a mind-bending welter of factors in their speaking out, just unfathomable. Yashin’s statement to the court that sentenced him to eight and a half years in prison last December sums things up:
“As if they will sew my mouth shut and I would be forbidden to speak forever. Everyone understands that this is the point. I am isolated from society because they want me to be silent. I promise as long as I’m alive I never will be. My mission is to tell the truth. I will not give up the truth even behind bars. After all, quoting the classic: ‘Lie is the religion of slaves.'”