Stalin Wakes on Hitler’s Birthday, April 20, 1945

Photo: © Olga Breydo. All Rights Reserved.

You will be fifty-six this morning.
How are your teeth? Too bad we could never meet.
Mirrors are like cats that watch in silence,
then scratch your face, and then look blank.
Stalin has not forgotten your assassins dropped near Moscow, nor
the stab in the back of the surprise attack.
Mussolini has been shot,
then kicked in the head to a crude rendition of a human.
(He was a preening puppet next to us.)
They hung Il Duce head-down at a gas station with his mistress,
her arms reaching out to him, almost touching.
Why did you not marry, Adolf?
I lost two wives. I lost fifty million men.
You buy land with blood, but with what do you buy blood?
No one knows what it costs to be Stalin.
For the record, I’m not a Stalinist.
Nobody hates Stalin more than us.
Have you even fired a gun, little Fuhrer?
I hope it is “Hitler weather,” as you Nazis say,
clear skies to aim our bombs.
I saw on the newsreel your left hand
behind your back, quivering as you patted the boys
with your right, pinching their cheeks.
Both of us aimed to be priests.
I am the wine and you are the bread and god is a fire.
At night, in my dark theater, your face glows on screen.
I doubt you watch me in your Wolf’s Lair.
Are there wolves there? Probably scared.
I envy that Mercedes. I could have it sent to me,
now that I have won.
Have I not won?

Holly Woodward works as a writer and artist. She is writing a book about two Russian women who fight in WWII. She was a fellow for the last four years of the Writers’ Institute at CUNY Graduate Center.

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Issue 7

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