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Post Poem: "Trotsky Explains Lenin to Frida Kahlo"
Created by John Eipper on 03/29/15 4:26 AM

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Poem: "Trotsky Explains Lenin to Frida Kahlo" (Luciano Dondero, Italy, 03/29/15 4:26 am)

In a website devote to Mennonite poetry, I found this gem by Leonard Neufeldt, which I believe deserves to be reproduced in WAIS:

Trotsky Explains Lenin To Frida Kahlo

He wore deep learning as disguise,
believable, perfect cover
for that love of self that burns with a low blue
fire you can hold in an open hand,
but dare not, the miracle
deferred for the flame's fuel,
and the mystery of how
it sets itself ablaze, burns steadfast
as sulfur in a swamp or a people's
revolution, the memory
its small shapes spark
long afterward in those
who like to bring past and future round
to anthems of praise, every word
sweeping its heat skyward,
burning the night air black
to its very edge, words
I passed my hands through,
hurting them

because Stalin
had invented fire so cold
it can reach all the way back
to Nothing, beyond the last
frozen sleeve of stars

© Leonard Neufeldt. Queen's Quarterly, Vol. 118 (2011).

(from http://www.mennonitepoetry.com/leonardneufeldt/indexframes.html )

A few words are needed to understand the context. Trotsky and Frida Kahlo were briefly lovers in 1937, when Trotsky was in exile in Mexico, living in the house of Frida and her husband Diego Rivera.

Her side of their love affair can be seen in her painting reproduced below. His side has been so far only expressed in his subsequent, groveling words of regret to his wife Natalia Sedova.

But I think that this English poet has managed to capture not only the contents of Trotsky's approach, and his deep admiration for Lenin, but also the form in which to express his own love of self, and love for Frida; and possibly, also capture the way in which he conducted his seduction. Marvelous!

The letter in Frida's hands in her self-portrait says: "To Leon Trotsky with affection I dedicate this painting, the 7th of November 1937. Frida Kahlo. In San Angel, Mexico" (The day was the 20th anniversary of the Russian Revolution).

JE comments:  Frida-Diego mania is gripping the Motor City at present, as a historic exhibit has opened at the Detroit Institute of Arts.  Adrian College's Spanish program will visit this coming Thursday (April 2nd):


Today's WAIS features at least two poems about authoritarian world leaders.  Gary Moore sent some original verses on Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew, which I'll publish this afternoon.

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