The Memorial Music of Dmitri Shostakovich after Reading Vollmann’s "Europe Central" — Alan Catlin

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

Chords that stretch the necks
of the condemned to die
by hanging, firing squad,
poison pellets; whole symphonies
for the martyred on the front
lines, facing the Germans or
in besieged cities: Leningrad,
Stalingrad, Moscow, starved
and frozen, buried in mass graves
when the ground defrosts; for
those on trains to nowhere, penal
colonies, concentration camps,
holiday resorts beneath Black
Sea; for those disappeared
from official photos, eradicated,
erased, made invisible as spirits;
for the ones who hid when there
was no hiding from bombers,
air raid sirens, the knocks on
the door that meant you were
as good as dead; memorial music,
all the grieving expressed in
The Seventh, The Eighth, The Ninth,
Tenth, Fourth, Fifth, every symphony,
grief, one through fifteen and in
string quartets, quintets, tone poems
for the starved, the tortured, and
the gassed, for the bright lights in
the chambers, a minor chord,
new music for those who check inside,
who assure us that the Final Solution
is truly final, is as neat and efficient
and as waste free as tank treads that
flatten the dead to make new roads.


Alan Catlin has been publishing since the 70s. He has published more than 60 chapbooks and full-length books of poetry. His most recent book is Alien Nation. Alan is currently the poetry editor of the online journal,