by Tatyana Muradov 

Stanislavski as the Knight in The Society of Art and Literature's 1888 production of Pushkin's The Miserly Knight.

Welcome to Russia circa 1991.  Ask but do not answer. Survive.Positions are fickle. Open lies. Wolf eyes. Uniform responses.  Family fuck ups and generations of militants.Socialist foxes sucking on the nothings of your neighbor.Zone out. Fade out. Whatever. You only exist in the reflection of your money. Don’t give input, just spend,Survive. Push past the thieves and the games.Don’t switch sides, nothing will change. Sleep, bitch.

I come from a battered peoplesI may look white, but I am muddied greyFrom centuries of waiting for a parentTo teach my people how to live.How to take a land so spanning and reign it rightHow to use the resource full and make it use full How to take the money out of politicians pockets and put it into schools.My sixteen year old cousin doesn’t go to schoolShe skips class to post pictures of herself on TumblrShe skips class because no one taught her not toBecause the chances of her getting into collegeRide on the bank account of her motherAnd the ride is shortAnd admission is partial.I do not know how to tell her to behave in a country that teaches her daily to do what’s easyTo try less.To play dumb.To leave it to those in charge. I do not know how to love a country that gets away with murder, daily.I do not know how to love a jungle,A country with no name, just lettersthat get shifted with each new presidentwho promises my people rightsand shits on them more than the last.I do not know how to love a coward,A country that does not fight backA country that jails Robin Hood and cheers for the JokerA country that gives itself a bad repWith people that make me look bad.

I am so sick of being related to The mafiaThe winter coldThe bad guy in every fucking movieThe mail-order brideThe StalinThe PutinThe protestsThe Pussy Riot,The misuse of the word babushka, which means grandmother, you fuckers The word sneakyThe word evilThe word corruptThe word communistThe word redThe word hateThe word fearI have been soiled with hate and fear for years.I had to put five thousand miles between us to feel safe,And I’m still scared. But I miss her,And every time I go there, I feel her underneath my feet, weeping.

Laughter is universal.So is pain and pride.But somehow here, at home, everything is more alive.  Even the cigarette buds and pollen that pollute this cityLayer by layer.But next to the industrial remnants stands a tree more beautiful than your own motherAnd you breathe a sigh of reliefAnd remember about hope                                                                                       And what could beIf only they cared more.If only you cared more.Apprehension lingers on your spine                                                  Like food stuck in your teethAnd Pushkin’s “Land of Moscow” comes to mind:
“And where the luxury was thriving,In shady parks and gardens, in the past,Where myrtle was fragrant, limes were shining,There now are just coals, ash, and dust.”
He’s right, the scent of dust is overbearing but what about the rose haw and the conifers?There are still things to fight for, Aren’t there? 

Tatyana Muradov was born in Moscow, Russia and raised in a small town in Texas. She moved to New York two years ago and since then, has been a part of the poetry scene there in the city performing for spoken word/slam teams such as LouderArts and Urbana.