Walking Next to Vladimir Putin
“The US says Kosovo is a unique case. But why is it so special?
This is not just double standards. It is primitive and straightforward
cynicism. You cannot change everything to suit your own interests.”
- Vladimir Putin, March 18, 2014
He holds a champagne bottle
torch, diesel-soused kerchief
spilling out of the open mouth,
a dead goat’s tongue
aflame. Walk with me, he says.
We dream these streets
Black Sea beacon, origin
in a ring of lesser ports. Carve
secants into the earth, reimagine
maps, permuting borders.
Didn’t he say it’s primitive—
seeing oneself as exceptional
when all are created equal
under God’s burning eye?
I watch twin suns rising like petrol
bombs on opposite horizons,
East and West, two eyes
enormous, traipsing sky
through Cold War smoke,
tear gas billows—their reflective
symmetry negating one another—
our virtues a city dragged
through other people’s rubble.
Two countries hold flames inches
from wicks, anticipate high noon,
so they can watch the fireworks
burst as citizens below take ash
on their tongues like snow.
Lucian Mattison is the author of “Peregrine Nation” (The Broadkill River Press, 2014) which won the 2014 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize. His work has appeared in Bodega, The Boiler, Everyday Genius, and Hobart, among others. He edits poetry for Green Briar Review and Barely South Review. Read more at Lucianmattison.com