The Slap of History. A Movie

help poster Russia 1921 famine by Orlov

[A psycho-historical prose poem from my latest book Cut a Long Story Short about my Russian grandfather Arkady, an artillery officer in the Tsarist White Army, and the Russian Revolution(s). The family manor was located near the village of Lachi in Belarus, now, like about 40% of Belarus, thoroughly contaminated by the radioactive fallout from the nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl in 1986. Eisenstein is a famous Russian film director. The poster by Orlov is related to the great Russian famine of 1921, partly a result of the Bolshevik Red Terror of violent food requisitioning from the peasants during the civil war.]

The Slap of History. A Movie

flashback & I’ve been told both grandfathers leave their bog-bound farms in the tsunami of cities gathering might when Capital strikes rich baby rich yeah its factories coal oil manning the pumps of accumulation Marx first spells out getting his piles writing Das Kapital in the British Museum, factory cities Mammon like Ginsberg howled pumping moneyed nothings into safes & banks vampiric numbers now re-make the world into an image of its stern & glittering nothing self going round the bend of more baby more till it all peaks now in wanky machines & melting poles

that’s the intro folks now let’s zoom in on Russian grandad Arkady going to cadet school learning to time trajectories of horse-drawn guns getting posted to Siberia where he meets his Lydia a merchant’s lass from Penza a little below his class whence my daddy’s born an only child & difficult birth that both become the family tune & Lydia according to the genteel breast-droop wont farms out my infant dad to peasants’ wives for breast milk & a bit of bond, suck on that dad, while mornings he’ll kiss the back of her out-stretched hand & not see her again till bed; & by the way Arkady also has a lot to do

so anyway we’re building up to it as they travel the land as armies do but never home to his White Russian place that still sits millennial proud prosaic as history on a rise above its old serf villages it has sucked lean as ribs for centuries

& that’s where the slap comes in

because Lieutenant-colonel A. L-N also teaches his Tsar’s peasant soldiers how to read & write & add & one day he asks a soldier the sum of two plus two & he answers: five & he asks again & the soldier repeats: five, & looks him in the eye & Arkady returns the look, then slaps him in the face

cut

so this is where I pan out & howl & wonder does the ancient rock on which the manor sits at Lachi sigh & subtly crack at that moment when millennia of oppression issue without thought from peasant eye & gentry hand, a peasant soldier spits out the bitter truth of their inverted lives where nothing adds up but lies I wonder is the red cockerel already shaking its fire feathers in the wings of a bloody dawn rolling with armies, heads, justice, revenge as in some montage of Eisenstein’s I have never seen

whatever; the manor is razed in the revolution

fade out now let me tell you not a trace remains but a grey rock in a white expanse of radioactive snow edged by firs whispering unintelligibly in the wind, or so I’ve heard

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~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on February 27, 2015.

2 Responses to “The Slap of History. A Movie”

  1. You do have some history, comrade! The beauty of Dharma Bum America is you just have to wipe out the Natives and you get a clean slate, start fresh, Utopian Beginning, although I just learned an ancestor sailed here on the Mayflower and I wonder what kind of Messianic butcher he might have been.

    • Did any Mayflowers go native? Or stay Jesus-like among the hypocrites? Or go back to Wales, stare at the moon and grow turnips?

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