Peter Goodwin


Russian Democracy

Had I a better sense of history, I would have known that the euphoria
that accompanied the collapse of communism in August of nineteen
ninety one—I was there! An eyewitness to history!—would not last,
that cheers and exuberance would not usher in the dawn of democracy,
that those three days when some Muscovites faced down tanks
was not necessarily the greatest achievement of the Russian people
and even if it was, euphoria, courage, ecstasy will not build democracy,
cannot liberate Russia from a thousand years of autocratic rule, Oh how
we cheered for Yeltsin, tore down statues of tyrants and dreamed
of a future which had nothing to do with the past little realizing
that a people long used to abuse may define democracy differently,
little realizing that the Russians had long ago made their compromises
with communism, moderating it with deals and favors, creating their own,
informal social fabric which sustained them and when communism
collapsed so did their social safety network, and crime which had been
contained and organized, now burst open—a septic boil— spread
and stained and swallowed the stillborn democracy. No one cheers
for Yeltsin now, no one cared when he departed, yearning for a tzar
who will restore order, even if just a small man, and flowers
placed on a Memorial to the Gulag,
placed with such hope, have withered.

Peter D. Goodwin resides in Maryland, close to the Chesapeake Bay, writes poetry while providing succulent treats for deer, rodents, birds and insects.
Poems published in his chapbook No Sense Of History; the anthologies September eleven; Maryland Voices; Listening to The Water: The Susquehanna Water Anthology; Alternatives To Surrender; and various journals including Rattle, Scribble, MainStreet Rag, Dreamstreets, Lucidity, Bent Pin, lunarosity,Delaware Poetry Revire, Yellow Medicine Review, LunchLines, Memoir(and), Prints.

(author retains copyright)