The Colour of Civilization

by IRENE FOWLER, Contributor

“Tyranny will make an entire population into readers of poetry.”
Joseph Brodsky

Part Of Speech

by Joseph Brodsky

…and when “the future” is uttered, swarms of mice
rush out of the Russian language and gnaw a piece
of ripened memory which is twice
as hole-ridden as real cheese.
After all these years it hardly matters who
or what stands in the corner, hidden by heavy drapes,
and your mind resounds not with a seraphic “doh”,
only their rustle. Life, that no one dares
to appraise, like that gift horse’s mouth,
bares its teeth in a grin at each
encounter. What gets left of a man amounts
to a part. To his spoken part. To a part of speech.

“Part of Speech” from A Part of Speech – © 1981 by Joseph Brodsky – Farrar, Straus and Giroux 

Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996) was born as Iosif Alexandrochich Brodsky, in Leningrad. He left school at age fifteen, taking jobs in a morgue, a mill, a ship’s boiler room, and on a geological expedition. During this time Brodsky taught himself English and Polish, and began writing poetry. His poetry was full of ironic wit and independent thinking, which got him into trouble with the Soviet authorities. Brodsky was also persecuted because his family was Jewish. In 1963, his poetry was denounced by a newspaper as “pornographic and anti-Soviet.” He was tried in 1964 for “parasitism,” condemned to a Soviet mental institution, and later sentenced to five years at Arkhangelsk, an Arctic labor camp. He served 18 months of that sentence, before an international outcry over his imprisonment helped secure his early release.  The Soviet authorities had prevented the woman he loved from marrying him, andhe had to leave her and their son behind when he was exiled in 1972. His poetry was banned in the U.S.S.R. Later, in a poem he described an exiled writer as one “who survives like a fish in the sand.” He was “strongly advised” to emigrate, and came to the U.S. in 1972.  His Less Than One, an essay collection, won the National Book Critics Award for Criticism. In 1987, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was invited back after the fall of the Soviet Union in December 1991, but Brodsky never returned to his homeland. His son came to see him in New York, and they were able to develop a relationship. His poetry collections include A Part of Speech, and To Urania.  Brodsky was appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States and served from 1991 to 1992. He died at age 55 of a heart attack in January of 1996.

To read Irene’s new poem “The Colour of Civilization” click:

The Colour Of Civilization

by Irene Fowler

As dumb bombs rain down on a historic and modern, 21st-century acclaimed European city
Neither claims of surreptitiously stuffed ballot boxes, nor, brown and black illegal votes; election fraud
Pass muster as a pretext, manufactured problem, smokescreen, or shiny object
For naked white-on-white, cruel aggression, barbaric violence and slaughter of innocents
The brutal scenes of an unrelenting, unjust and senseless war, mocking every accoutrement, ease, and comfort, of a society; judged advanced and admirable.


Bloodied strollers, plundered forever of cherubic babies; languish and mourn; violated and emptied in the empty city square
Kindergartens, schools and universities; all level playing fields, for beastly exercises in vicious, merciless, czarist jihad
Homes and businesses, erstwhile, safe and peaceful sanctuaries, marked for purposeful, criminal destruction
Hospitals and care centres, sitting prey, for inhumane inventions, and their malign, cowardly operators.


We, in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, watch the grisly, hellish nightmare; trancelike and transfixed
The unfolding chaos and mayhem, perhaps a scary, unwelcome glimpse and harbinger
Awaiting the rest of us; humanity deemed lesser and secondary
Ironic classifications, as vaunted white civilization, disintegrates and rapidly unravels.


Jungle law, like giant, wild, noxious weeds, in disarrayed landscapes; chokes and overruns the goodly fruits, of global order
As white civilization takes humanity of all hues, alongside creation; to the precipice of biological and chemical warfare
Proof positive that civilization has no colour, creed or culture; for as a man thinketh in his heart so he is…
‘The next war may well bury Western civilization forever’ sayeth noble Solzhenitsyn; russo-dissident-philosopher-sage.


© 2022 by Irene Fowler



About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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