My Poetry

“The Russian Spring,” tanka prose

Title: Russian Dancers
Artist: Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)
Date: 1899 via https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/459097

“The Russian Spring”

The great Rus, a land once dominated by Tsar’s, dictators, communists, and now, by a cruel despot who longs for the glory days of the USSR. Putin’s mission is clear—he aims to reclaim all the territory that once made up the Russian empire. To prevent the Russian state from collapsing, he must halt the eastward spread of these treacherous, subversive ideas—by crushing them in Ukraine. Even if those ideas are figments of his imagination…

springtime in Russia 
the peasants dance in the streets 
attempt to forget 
the horrors of death and war 
honor the spring equinox 

Putin, the autocrat, rules the people. He tells them what to think… “Remember Siberia,” they cry in hushed tones.

“The more restrictive a regime becomes, the more paranoid a leader grows because the people don’t understand what is happening in society,” whispers the shadows of the past… “Remember Stalin…” they mutter in small voices.

old memories fade—
Putin sits on a gold throne
his puppets perform
women and their children sing
while the men perish in war

© Colleen M. Chesebro

Current events and the Degas painting above, inspired this week’s #TankaTuesday poetry. I can’t help thinking about the Russian people and how they don’t know the truth about what’s happening in their country. The Russian people have been dominated since the beginning of time. I hope some day; they gain their independence. 🙏🏻 ❤️

49 thoughts on ““The Russian Spring,” tanka prose”

    1. Thanks, Liz. My grandfather was born in Russia, so I figured I could have my say. It’s scary. They left Russia, for exactly what is happening today! I’ve always thought my great grandparents had great foresight to leave in 1906 when they did. ❤

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    1. Yvette, thanks so much. I heard this morning on the news that the Ukrainians don’t know what to do with all the Russian soldiers’ bodies!! Of course; the despot doesn’t want them coming back to Russia… the people might find out the truth about the war! ❤

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  1. I’ve always wondered how events in history could have happened. And would I stand by quietly as it does? Seeing how it is in Russia shows me how one person can manipulate so many and the ones that can’t be, their lives are threatened. You captured that so well, Colleen, and sadly so many will die and some will never understand.

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    1. Thank you. And, I worry about our own country. Look how many were deceived and believed the false claims of a president desperate to hang onto his power. We were so close to falling off the cliff into autocracy. Let’s pray we hold it together. ❤

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  2. It’s hard to make sense of human behavior. But there have always been those who want power and will do anything to get and keep it. What kind of life us that? You can never trust anyone. (K)

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  3. Powerful tanka prose Colleen. And yes, in this war, we have to say, there are many victims, including the Russian people who are living in a society that has little freedoms or human rights. Putin idolizes Stalin – ergo, he’s a fascist. He “must” rule with absolute “power” –

    And interestingly enough, I saw a show on Al Jazeera that looks into “social media” and how it’s a very “useful” tool for exploiting people via propaganda – and part of it was focused on Russia (it aired just a few days after the war started, and according to the host, the episode was in the works before …. ). But my point is: in the show, they spoke to several people who were curators of what was once a very important historical museum, now defunct under Putin, where all the information of lost ancestors, family etc. those who were exiled/purged/disappeared etc. (Siberia) is being systematically destroyed. Putin is denying his own country’s history. In fact, in many squares and streets, where one would see “advertising” – there are all these placards and signs showcasing Stalin and his greatness. It’s very shocking. But then, people who’ve live in an autocratic/totalitarian society are “taught” not to question. I wonder if this is what consider “blind faith”?

    It truly is tragic. And we should be very grateful that we have rights and freedoms and choices that so many others do not.

    But back to your piece – I also have to note, I like the way you’ve considered that spring is knocking – and there are reasons to celebrate and dance, to remember, “the old ways, customs, traditions” … knowing that ultimately, it’s the land, the earth and all the elements, that sustain us, and give us life.

    Peace!

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    1. Pat, thank you for your lovely comments. Yes, I’ve read something similar about Putin. It’s interesting how an autocrat thinks… by destroying their Russian history, Putin creates an alternate universe for the people with his rules and beliefs. I still believe he intends on declaring himself a Tsar. China declared Xi Jinping a paramount leader, practically a god! The old Tsars believed god appointed them as well. Moscow, the third Rome, is a theological and political concept asserting that Moscow is the successor of the Roman Empire, representing a “third Rome” in succession to the first Rome and the second Rome. (Wikipedia) Those are dangerous sentiments for Europe. I fear we are in WWIII already. All we can do is hope and pray that nothing escalates further. Ukraine is in a bad situation. 😦

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      1. It’s a “history of convenience” – as it most suits the ruling elite …. He’s pretty shrewd for a “madman” … *sigh* …. it wouldn’t surprise me in the least, desiring to be a Tsar, or some equivalent of a Royal Family etc. As for God-appointed? Well, that’s a pseudo traditional notion, dates back ages, in many cultures. Unfortunately, what Putin ignores, is that regardless of land boundaries, or nations, or cultures, ethnicities, religious or non, or spiritual or non, beliefs …. in short – ALL blood is the same. The externals, while “valid” in some distinguishing manner, are “irrelevant.” Blood spilled in Africa is no different than blood spilled in Asia, The Middle East or Europe. *sigh*
        As for the idea of a Third Rome? Sorry, but I am chuckling, because all Empires collapse – eventually, if they don’t adapt and change. That’s Nature’s Way I think. But maybe he’s too busy re-writing Roman history to best suit his needs. And yes, actually, we technically have begun the new era of World War – even if there are not yet (hopefully it won’t come to it) peoples of all nations fighting on the ground. This is not something that affects just one place, The Ukraine, and consequently Russia, but the rippling aftershocks will take a toll and cause all kinds of changes abroad. I guess all we can do is keep the faith and pray for peace – everywhere.

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  4. There are too many places on this earth where one human wishes to control more than they are able or capable of – Some though are more generous, while others just blast any fragment they don’t wish to be – a sad human failing.

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  5. What a commentary on the situation in Russia, Colleen. I love your tanka prose. It’s riveting and powerfully crafted. I think the Russian people are learning, little by little, what their country is doing, but the fear and powerlessness run deep. It’s easier to live in denial. I too hope that one day they will also be free.

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  6. I marvel at how spring, war and puppets merge in your poems, Colleen! See how one eccentric man is enough to destroy the much treasured peace. I wonder how can such persons sleep! Thank you for highlighting the issue dear friend.

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  7. My fiancé is from Russia and his move is being halted by the war. In the meantime I’ve been interested in learning the deep history. You’ve captured the duality well of an almost blissful coping mechanism and the terror of war. And the artwork brings out that beauty in the forefront of strife.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. I can’t imagine how it would be to live in a country where you never know the truth about anything. It’s terrifying. The Russian people (my family came from Russia) have always been under autocratic or Tsar rule. I hope the future brings them a sense of democracy so they can move on. ❤

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  8. Sis, I must have missed this. Well done!!!! Love the story of the tyrannical Pukin. I came over for your examples from your contest post. ❤ xx

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