February 23, 2009

Great Russia

by Randall Rogers

Normal shit for old guys
in Russia
out of the vodka bar
the dirty, ‘hole in the wall’ place
Going home to beat the wife and kids
Smoke incessantly
And die young, an already old man.
But that’s the way it is
On the losin’ side
Of capitalism.

Hell, in Kharkov, Ukraine,
Where I lived and worked
Seventy percent of the men smoke.
And they say the Germans couldn’t whip them
In World War II
Because the whole Russian army was so drunk and disorganized
Fueled by vodka and chaos and adrenaline
That the orderly Germans
Just couldn’t cope.

Vodka for everything
In Russia/Ukraine
Toast me quick
The average age of death for men is a booze soaked fifty-seven or so
Those boys do every day
What is way over the limits of what is considered alcoholic
In the USA.
Or about any other location on earth.

Loved that place, the drinking,
The tree-lined boulevards
The tree blossoms and spring smell
When I lived there
‘cept when the Russians would try
To drink with me they soon learned this lush
Has a “serious problem with alcohol”
I survived, what can I say?
Came home bruised and penniless many times
Don’t know who to or what I said
But I get snippets, come back
Almost like being at war
Me drunk like that
Everyone a blood friend or foe
Tears or violence
Ping-pong-ing my mind
Drinking with the Russians
the sailors, the factory workers,
“I am God!”
I told one of them.
And he punched me in the mouth.


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