To Tchaikovsky

A poem dedicated to Russian composer Tchaikovsky

Cannons and chimes

might remind a fatherland of Moscow’s

purposed fire, but I know

you weren’t thinking of Borodino

in 1880.


You were commissioned to compose

away from the strident chords of feigned

matrimony. Asked to write about a battle

nearly seventy years and eighty miles apart

from the heart which bled

imagining Iosef holding

another man’s erection.


At Moscow Conservatory

Antonia sat above your room, holding her empty

womb over your conscience. She cried the unfertile tears

every man worries will drown

his ambition. Maybe she made you want

those children you promised would make her

a mother.


If only she knew that you,

who moved metered swans,

who would narrate with wordless rhythm

battles you never fought,


Never waltzed.


I imagine you sipped deliberately

from the choleric water that promised

to make you forget

the overture you wrote

years before Pathetique


Who taught you how to write

off tempo with the poet’s


The End

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