Springsteen Meets Lenin

One of the articles in USSR/USA (IC#15)
Originally published in Winter 1987 on page 16
Copyright (c)1987, 1997 by Context Institute

A goulash of names to warm cold travelers:
Our train from Helsinki to Moscow
Is called Tolstoy,
And my memories of Karenina
Wobble on iron wheels
While I enjoy my ritual Stolichnaya vodka
And Romanov caviar.
Near the border between Suomi and Vyborg
A building has been baptized
”Citroen – Toyota."
Jumbled geography, colliding cars and
continents –
Tastes and sounds and centuries
Are swirling through me,
But I emerge unscathed
From the drama of the customs search,
And gloat about gleaning a faint smile
From the unexpectedly pretty
Policewoman.

Lenin rode these tracks
In darker times –
The light he carried glowed
and dimmed again.

I’m tired from jet lag
(At least he escaped that)
And climb into my berth
With my Walkman and earphones.
”Glory Days” roars into my head
Louder than the locomotive,
”Glory days, they’ll pass you by,"
And the ironies of ”Born in the USA”
Match my mood.
Jimmie Rodgers sang some great train songs,
But Springsteen drives harder
Through my sleepless slavic night.
On my third trip.
Still wondering what to do,
When Springsteen hits ”Dancin’ in the Dark”
At least I’ve found my theme song.

The sky begins to lighten,
I see sleepy Russians on station platforms,
A stolid veteran on crutches,
A furtive dog is practicing his bark –
We’re all just strangers dancing in the dark.

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