Far away, on the other side of the blue planet, home of humans,
In a cold and frost-kissed land, behind thick crenelated walls
Deep in Holy Mother Russia, stately Grand Kremlin Palace rises above
The wide cobblestones of Red Square, where tanks and rockets parade.
Nearby barefoot St. Vasili is honored by a majestic onion-domed cathedral
And ancient, mystic Spasskaya Tower guards the enormous fortress
Indeed, all the children of the Motherland, from Sochi to freezing Vladivostok.
The Kremlin, home of the mighty Tsars, from Ivan, called the Terrible
Prussian-born Catherine, and Alexander, the conqueror of Napoleon,
The tragic Nicholas and his family, murdered in the Urals, the palace
Usurped by Lenin, then the butcher Stalin, later Khrushchev the shoe-slapper
Then Brezhnev, the perestroikist Gorbachev, beloved in the west,
Hated in his own land. Five expansive halls, seven hundred great rooms
From here the power of the lords of East stretched from ocean to ocean.
In one of the rooms, deep in the stucco’d palace, far from public eyes, was
Vladimir Putin, the great tactician, son of Vladimir, Leningrad-born.
Worthy was Putin, son of a submariner, educated in Soviet law
With youthful zeal served his country in the Committee for State Security
Defending the Motherland against capitalist sympathizers in Dresden.
Mourn did he not after the Fall, the end of the Union
But rather it was to him Mother Russia turned, to rebuild, to repair,
And to wreak righteous Slavic revenge upon the perfidious West.
Nor did he shirk his awesome responsibility.
Putin sat at his oak desk in his windowless, oak-paneled office,
Facing the empty oak conference table before him,
And the chessboard Vaino, his loyal chief of staff, set before him.
Not yet a grandmaster of the game, yet a master of the world,
Crafty Putin considered his next move.
“Pora,” he whispered,
“It is time,” and picked up the phone. With strong words he commanded
To his assistant, Belov, who’d come from Krasnoyarsk, a Siberian
“Send them in!” and three dark-suited men appeared.
They exclaimed. Putin answered them warmly. “Gorya, Seryozha, Sasha,”
He greeted them, extending his well-tanned arms to
The emperors of espionage, his most trusted lieutenants,
Chiefs of the valiant secret armies fighting the evil Americans.
Putin spoke, the submariner’s son, risen to rule in the tsars’ fortress,
“Tell me,” he said softly, “of our progress.”
And to their master
The trio spoke as one. “Vladimir Vladimirovich, greatest of all comrades,
We recall your command to us, a scant year ago, seated at this very table
Your words we remember as if you said them clearly today,
Of how opportunity presents itself but rarely, and unexpectedly,
Victors seize it, as a hawk in flight grabs a quail in its talons
And you, and you alone, oh great tactician, you saw it clearly
No clear leaders, squabbling in both parties; we could
Disrupt the Enemy’s elections! For our Motherland, for our home,
For our careers, for glory, nothing exceeds it in importance,
Not food, not the crisp winter’s breath on a white St Petersburg night
No pleasure should deter us from confusing and confounding
The hapless dwellers of Lincoln’s land. Toil by day, sweat past dusk,
Like Kutuzov at Borodino we turn a twenty-year old defeat to victory:
That was your sacred charge to us.”
Putin nodded, bade them continue.
“Greatest of all comrades, tsar of the tsars, our labors are many
The meme-masters of Savushkina Street photoshopping ‘round the clock,
Did you know…?” they grinned, malice in their eyes.
“Know what?” Putin countered. “About the Pope’s politics?
How he has endorsed our man, your servant, the Trump?”
And the pair showed Putin a picture, cunningly crafted, so real
Of Francis, the holy Argentine, seeming to lay hands on the Trump,
Blessing him, endorsing him, instead of the Woman of Wellesley.
“And placement?” asked Putin. “Oh lord of Russian lords,”
Continued the spies, “carefully we have segmented the voters,
Analyzing the rolls, building the database, finding their Facebooks
Their Twitters, their Instagrams, their Snapchats,
Millions of false identities we have created, friended the voters
Placed this meme and so many others, inflaming their passions.”
“Tell me,” said Putin, choosing his words, “not of activity, but results.”
Gorya, Sasha and Seryozha shot back, “We are winning! The polls show it,
Our man Trump pulls ahead every day!”
“Incredible!” breathed Putin.
“Scarcely could I have believed it possible, yet here it is before us.
Well have you done, comrades, know I hold you in the highest esteem.”
And broadly they smiled, their hearts warmed by their master’s praise.
“But now, my dear friends, we need something more. A bomb!
Not a real one, but one that will cause everyone in hateful America
To take pause, to reflect, to consider who they really desire
In the House of White.”
And as wolves hot in the chase
Bear their jagged teeth in anticipation of the attack, so too did the spies
Grin, imagining the glorious kill. Gorya, Sasha and Seryozha answered, again as one,
“The tape? The tape? Is it time to release the tape from the Trump’s visit?
When he stayed, right here in Moscow, invited some lovely ladies of the night
To visit his room, of course they were our agents, well-trained sparrows
Oh how he laughed, took his pleasure when they wet the bed,
The very one in which slept blessed Obama, and Michelle, years before.
Oh, let us show it, oh the chaos! Oh, the joy we would take!”
“Pee-pee tape!” shouted Sasha. “Pee-pee tape!” Seryozha answered,
“Time to release the pee-pee tape,” Gorya sang in his deep bass,
In perfect Russian contrapuntal harmony. “No,” mighty Putin
Waved away their request. “Then what, oh master?” they asked,
Puzzled by Putin’s words. “We will save that for later,
To pull the strings on our Trump, he will do our bidding.
No, it is time to release the trove.”
“The emails?” they asked.
“The emails,” Putin confirmed. “The thirty thousand, all of them,
That your valiant coders, the bit-pullers, secreted out from Hillary
Her server, clintonemail.com, the very one. We shall cast Doubt
Upon the Wellesley Woman, hers will have second thoughts, she will
Lose the election, and shall the Trump, the blowhard –
our blowhard –
The orange-haired one, he shall win the White House.”
The spies gasped at this, recognizing the brilliance of Putin’s plan.
“We shall, sir!” shouted the triad of spooks, saluting smartly,
But Putin the order-giver was not yet finished with them. “And make sure,
That no one knows it was us, use the white-haired one, leave no trace,
Go! And do this next great task, attack with stealth and surprise,
The Motherland thanks you!” The agency-heads stood and made their exit,
Leaving the grand strategist alone in his room with his thoughts.
He had his own reasons for hating Hillary. Just five years before,
Russia had its own elections, and mighty Putin stood for the presidency.
Not that there was any doubt of course! For the people of Russia loved him,
Truly loved him, except for a few that did not. They, ungrateful ones,
Not appreciating Russia’s economic miracle, rise of the oil oligarchs,
Marched in the streets, with banners. Hillary, then blessed Obama’s
Secretary of State, full of righteous rage, from oh-so-moral America
Dared, dared! to question the election! To suggest they were not fair!
That ballots had been rigged! That Putin had stolen it!
Of course, the United Russia Party sent out teams back then,
Made sure the fate of All the Russias was secure, in Putin’s steady hands.
Still – Putin remembered what she said and vowed to get even.
The woman! She had interfered with Russia’s internal affairs! The woman!
Russia’s leader, man of many talents, held a grudge, a thirst for revenge
That would be satisfied.
Was it large-skulled Sasha, or Seryozha
Or was it Gorya, the many-medaled General, the hard-liner
That made the first call, the first in a long chain? Who knows?
But as a car starts with a turn of a key, fuel pours into the pistons
The crankshaft starts to turn, sparks set off little bursts of power
Belching smoke from the exhaust, so too one thing led to another.
In Berlin, near the Ku-damm a USB stick was handed off,
Neither person knowing the other, then passed on
To a flight attendant headed to foggy Heathrow, and then at night
To a surly London cabbie, a disenchanted actor, failed student
Angry at the world, logged on to his super-encrypted VPN,
Uploaded the thumb drive’s content to a server,
Shortly the contents were viewed by a bespectacled German,
Once a Red, then a Green, now consumed with anti-establishment spite
And she copied the emails again,
Within a few hours, before a glowing laptop, white-haired Julian scrolled
Amazed at what he saw, Hillary’s private correspondence
Email after email, from Huma and John and Mook
Conversations with Donna Brazile and Assistant Secretaries galore,
And of course, with pure Chelsea, and Bill, who’d shared cigars with Monica.
Gold! Pure gold!
Julian the Ecuadorian exulted, no longer an Aussie
His home was the Embassy, where he’d taken citizenship
Even though he’d never been to the land of the long-lost Incas
Never visited mountainous Quito, in Pichincha, or Guayaquil
By the river, for in the Embassy he’d hidden, from the finger-pointing Swedes
Who’d accused him (bogus!) untoward behavior to a pair of ladies.
In his mind he and he alone saw the corruption and warmongering
The evils of the West, led by the perfidious Americans, by Bill, Hillary’s mate,
And George, son of George, and even blessed Obama he deemed evil,
And why not, for Obama had approved the extradition warrant,
For him the Americans had no love, he’d printed Ms. Manning’s papers
Exposing secret stuff. They’d forced Julian into his South American refuge,
Far from the jungle.
And now before him was history itself!
Such a moment! From his exile, deep in the center of London,
He could influence the American election, slam Hillary, daughter of Hugh
Drive her to defeat, send her in shame back to Chappaqua.
Still – he hesitated – that would mean the odious Trump would win
So, just to ensure he accomplished his task, ever-watching Artemis
Sent Aphrodite, hardly dressed, to his tiny room rubbing his thin shoulders
Whispering in his ear, “Publish it, little dude, publish it …
Press the beckoning enter key, submit, then I shall submit to you,
O rebel of the web, truth-teller.” Her hands caressed trembling Julian
His breaths became deeper, faster, his pale face reddened.
No one can resist
The charms of the love-goddess, so beautiful she that all men
Succumb, willingly do her bidding, that she may bestow favors,
Oh! The words she spoke: “Handsome man of the outback,
My fingers are drawn to your pale body, I heave at your approach,
So awesomely built your gnarly self, and is that the trace of a little white beard
On your little white face?”
And the key was pressed.
No sooner had she spoken than the emails flowed through the great internet,
To fair and balanced Fox to the liberal media, CBS to NBC and the Post
Rush and Tucker and Hannity and Bill O and the rest fairly leapt on them
While for his part the white-haired one prepared to leap on the goddess,
Who vanished that moment, saying only these words,
“As if …!”