Lefties, in fact, are cool with using guns.
Their Mayakovsky howled The floor is yours,
Comrade Mauser! as they came for the sons
of their serfs, knocking grimly on their doors.

What leftists won’t put up with are the guns
We have, who are to shut up and obey,
Ceding our rights, indenturing our sons.
So get the ball rolling… Μολὼν λαβέ.


Poet’s Note:

The Mayakovsky quote is from his most famous political poem “Left Marc,” which was recited and promoted in the USSR until it ceased to exist, and he has been lionized by leftists and leftist poets in crappy translations to date here in the USA. 

Μολὼν λαβέ: Pronounced “Molon labe”; it means “Come and take them” and is a famous quote said by the Spartan king to the invading Persians when told to surrender their weapons.




Dreams are the backscatter of everything
You jettisoned, forgot, or left behind.
Sleep leaves you in their wake, wearing their ring,
Backpedaling forward, wide-eyed and blind.




The hive-mind web is vying for control:
The pixelariat can bend your will
Better than proletarians, until
Nothing is real except your inner troll.



Stephen M. Dickey is a Slavic linguist at the University of Kansas. He has published widely on Slavic verbal categories, and has published translations of Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian fiction and poetry including Meša Selimović’s Death and the Dervish, Borislav Pekić’s How to Quiet a Vampire, and Miljenko Jergović’s Ruta Tannenbaum. He has published poetry in various journals including Shot Glass Journal, Trinacria, The Lyric, Rat’s Ass Review, Lighten Up Online, Better Than Starbucks, Asses of Parnassus, and Blue Unicorn.

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19 Responses

  1. Roy E. Peterson

    As a Russian Foreign Area Officer in the U.S. Army and former Russian linguist trained at the U.S. Army Russian Institute in Garmisch, Germany, I paid particular attention to this poem and the difference between leftist elites and proletarians. Excellent rendition and one to impress on the minds of voters in our country.

  2. Stephen Dickey

    Thank you for your comment. The inconsistency continues to amaze, until I remember it’s all about power.

  3. Margaret Coats

    Lucid poems that are sharply economical, where every word counts, and the last word is a zinger. I like them all, with “Dreams” as my favorite. The one on the web includes fantasy intrigue worth a little analysis. “Pixelariat” is formed like “proletariat” from “pixel,” but I see a flash of pixies there. Did you intend that kind of creature to be banished by the inner troll?

  4. Stephen Dickey

    Thank you very much for your kind comment. My natural inclination is for pieces like “Dreams,” but reality intrudes. I admit I was not thinking about a play on pixies, just how digital media seem to be achieving what the revolutionaries failed to do.

  5. Cynthia Erlandson

    I, also, liked “Dreams” best, for the very clever phrases like “Sleep leaves you in their wake”; “backpedaling forward”; “wide-eyed and blind”.

  6. Joseph S. Salemi

    The “hive-mind” is excellent as a description of the asphyxiating and sick ideology that is infecting the thought processes of millions world-wide. I recall that back in the early 1970s the magazine National Review attempted to popularize “The Hive” as a polemical name for the glandularly driven left-liberal establishment in government, media, and academia. It didn’t catch on.

    Those were the days, of course, before NR decayed into the neocon, Never-Trump rag that it is now.

    • Stephen Dickey

      I was unaware that the term “the hive” goes back that far. I encountered the term “hive mind” and a whole lot of other incisive terms in Jaron Lanier’s book You are Not a Gadget (which is not a self-help book). I don’t know that I would endorse it wholesale as social criticism, but at least he takes a critical look at what “Internet 2.0” is doing to our society.

  7. C.B. Anderson

    All three are pungent, piquant and to the point. Kansas, in the heartland of the USA, is a good place from which to view the dark directions in which the mainstream would like to carry us. And your utter control of the rhyme, which both subserves and drives the meaning, is fairly spectacular.

  8. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Stephen, I like the clear, straightforward warnings gift wrapped in fine poetry with creative flair… especially in the hive-mind web vying for control. ‘The pixelariat’ is a stroke of linguistic genius. Magnificent!

  9. AB Brown

    Powerful poems. Lot of great wordplay here. Love the description of dreams as ‘backscatter.’

  10. James Sale

    Very impressive poetry; my friend Andrew Benson Brown alerted me to this as I didn’t see it first time round. But there is definitely a wonderful control of language and concise expressiveness in this, which is the mark of a true poet. The ‘hive mind’ quatrain I find particularly powerful. Well done.


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