A song to democracy

29 September 2023 - no responses

Author: Natalya Antonova

Pankina Natalia, Decolonise me gently with your tongue, 2023.


This poem should have been

A critical analysis

Of the suppressed and invisible

Women’s art work

In the visual arts scene.


This poem should have forayed into patriarchy –

That evil Geist.

It could have featured an interview with a female artist

Who swings between international flights.


But this is a song to democracy –

An adverse piece of self-criticism.

Poetry is a gateway

Into the prison

Of language –

The We of the I.

Sing with me:

– The democracy attraction

Is where We abide.


Some three sublime hours

To inhabit the pain,

To get a grasp

Of the time-infused despair.

– What side are you on? – I hear from a distance.

I mumble, as though someone listens:

– To “locate” and “position” oneself

Means to flatten the flow of history.

To “locate” oneself on the margins, much worse,

Invites the misery

Of self-denigration.


The voice of inner reflection

Is at a loss:

– What does it matter?

Know the simple truism, abided by all

In the progressive gaggle:

Victory at all costs

Over the absolute evil –

The triumph over barbarism

Of democratic freedoms.


I silently nod,

Gazing upon the patches on the map,

Red, blue, and green.

They mix into one grey mass

Until I flatly lie on the screen.

Wasted, I contemplate the figures of unfreedom

In the narrow window

Of the PowerPoint.

Dates when women of the world

Cast their ballot

For the acting party, president, commander.

Years when women of the world

Went into the shadow

Of the sexual and reproductive rights charter,

Enforced by the rotting party, president, commander.


The figures of unfreedom foster:

State socialism has given birth to a monster –

The autocratic society

Built on the vestiges

Of the Soviet nomenklatura.

That Ungeheuer is eating us from within,

Without a break or caesura.

I stare into the monster’s eyes – my eyes.


Just look into the mirror and repeat after me:

– There has never been a democracy

In the former second world,

Neither will it be.


You, too, must have read this poem

In your mirror reflection,


– Decolonise me gently with your tongue.

You, too, would have written a poem more dangerous,

It would have stung,

It would have shattered and undone

The walls of the Lubyanka castle.

Proud and unmastered,

This poem should have been

A manifesto for the subversive arts.

Yet – it’s a song to democracy, alas.

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