Shostakovich

 

I can’t say that I’m a big fan of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 – 1975) but in my collection I do have, either as stand-alone or mp3, the following Ballet Suites; Cello Concertos; Piano Concertos; Piano Trios; Symphonies 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 13; Mussorgsky Songs. Truth be told I am more a fan of stirring patriotic, almost propaganda, music, than of Shostakovich.

This collection started with an lp of a piano concerto. Through MHS I added some cassettes of a couple of the symphonies & his ballet music. Later, thanks to sales at HMV or Sams I picked up some of the other symphonies. I enjoy the chamber music control of piano trios so it seemed natural to add these as well.

Although much of his writing was done under USSR state control, command & approval he managed to impart some personality & even humour into his compositions. There is nothing radical in any of his music. He was never as emotionally lyrical as Tchaikovsky but his symphonies are as epic as Beethoven’s sweeping visas. The influence of both Mahler & Stravinsky are evident in the symphonies. 

One on the mp3 cds I added Ancient Echos of Russian “a cappella” male choir songs. Sublime & one of the bass singers supposed has one of the deepest voices ever recorded. I admit to enjoying the religious sombreness of these songs without needing to know what they’re singing or having any abiding belief in the religious context either. Soothing & resonant. Try it you might become a believer yourself 🙂

This is a piece I wrote in the early 80’s. It was unfinished so the ending is ‘new.’ 

Down The Drain

2

“You’ve really done it now.” My words slurred so I couldn’t make them out. I stepped forward but there was no strength in my legs. I crumpled & fell back onto the couch.

He leaned forward to touch my eye but I jerked away, afraid that his touch would cause more pain. Clumsily using the back of the couch & then the wall for support I dragged myself to the bathroom.

Leaning heavily against the sink my awareness slipped away briefly. I came to with a jolt staring at myself in the mirror. The blue of my eyes, the blood, the paler blue of the sink, the effusion of blood drips in the water. One eye bruised & already withdrawn into a black hole in my face.

Splashing cold water on my face the rest of my body started to respond. The shock gave way to actual pain as I slumped backward, dizzy on the edge of unconsciousness.

“Jim,” I called out involuntarily. How a part of me could still trust him. “Jim, help me. I can’t seem …”

An ice-filled cloth stopped my mumble. Strong arms held me up & gently guided me to the bedroom. His words scurried into my ear. Fast, whispered, half-sobbed words I could barely hear or comprehend. My name was being repeated over & over. It circled overhead, pulled my consciousness away with it. It called me to supper. My mother calls to me up the stairs.

“Donald. Donald.”

I knew it was only the first call to supper. I couldn’t reply because my voice would betray me, it would take my attention away from the moment. My jeans around my ankles, one hand on my cock & the other touched the cock in a magazine. My mind fixed on what that perfect cock would feel like, taste like, push like.

Jacking faster, afraid that my mother would come in at any moment, I drop the magazine to watch the play of my fist around my dick. I visualize the rock hard muscles of the stud in the magazine flex as they pulled me closer to him, as his cock sank deep into my ass, as my cock would plunge into his. Harder & faster. I flipped the page over for another pose of the same inviting stud.

Her heavy footsteps on the stairs. Harder faster. Moaning I can barely keep going but I lunge toward release. A knock on the door.

“Are you coming down to supper Don?”

I laugh a little, want to say ‘Yes mother I’m coming for supper.’ The muscle spasm & come on my fist, my face. 

“Yeah Ma.” I finally answer, hope my voice betrays nothing. “I was just taking a nap.” I lick come off my fingers. “I’ll be down in a minute.”

I rub a gob of my come on the dick in the magazine. Unaware that my door has swung open at her knock, I lick the come off. It tastes like ink.

“Donald!”

My name flies at me from the open door as an accusation. A briefly clutched apron & then a slam rebounds before I can roll away to hide myself. The slam hums as my ears burn red with confusions, confessions.

“Donald. Donald.”

It persists becomes louder & less like my mother. Someone else. As my ears open in another direction I try to recall how old I was then, was it that long ago.

“Donald. Donald.”

My head turns slowly to the flutter of my name. My eyes, one less than the other, shyly opens.

Jim’s eyes are the greenest I’ve ever seen. Perhaps that’s because I’ve looked longer into & for them. My heart & head aches with a realization that I do love this man but I don’t know how to tell him without seeming weak, without seeming less than a man myself. His hand reaches out cautiously, tenderly touches my lip. I feel a twinge of pain, a recollection of how of this pain started. I pull away stiffly.

part 3 next week

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Patriotism

Patriotism 

it wasn’t a war

of ideology 

or for our defence 

it was a battle

for the sake of the economy

manufacturing jobs for profit

selecting the undesirable 

sending them off to die

to thin the population

to spare those who could

afford not to go to war


so they could stay at home

reap the financial rewards

of others’ sacrifice

<>

it wasn’t a war

to prove what a patriot you were

but to keep fat wallets

from thinning

On one of my trips to Washington DC I made a point of visiting Arlington National Cemetery. It was a standard hot & humid day so I was spared the ambiance of those overcast or just after the rain photos. I was moved all the same by the rippling shifting patterns of the endless rows of crosses as I walked through. Some had roses tucked to the tops, or wreaths, even one with photos left at the base. I experienced a sense of a loss that spans centuries. 

https://topoet.ca/2016/06/02/arlington/

I also knew a bit about the racial nature of demographics the draft in the USA. War is big business – military production pulled Canada & USA out of the depression. Wars have been declared solely to bolster the reputations of national leaders & divert attention from domestic issues (which in the USA haven’t been successfully addressed since the Civil War).

I find it dismaying when a head of state praises the patriotism of the services from the comfortable security of his million dollar office while those in the services struggle with the physical & psychological damage of war. If they choose not to be exploited they are unpatriotic.

The fact of war, being a soldier is something I can imagine but most of my imagination has been fed by films, by the rhetoric of brave men & women fighting for my freedom. I had considered, at the end of high school, enlisting but being a little queer boy knew it was ultimately not the place for me. I had no examples of lgbt serving in the forces to encourage me either. I’ve read enough about the history of lgbt in both the US & Canadian services to know we did exist there, but just like all minorities, we were okay as long we served a purpose then we could be drummed out for our sexuality without pensions etc.

What wallets did that pension money end up in?


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