200 Section 7 Kseniya and Zhenya

[Section 7 of 200 introduces Kseniya and Zhenya, characters who will henceforth loosely guide this long episodic poem, like psychopomps, through its grim yet frivolous purgatorial landscape of political intrigue and social decay. The pair are introduced here as a fictionalized caricature of the Russian hookers who allegedly peed on Trump. The name ‘Kseniya’ is a Russian version of Greek ‘Xenia’, meaning foreigner or lover of foreigners; Zhenya is a common Slavonic diminutive of ‘Evgenia’, meaning pure in race. Although they act like sisters, these characters are thus also tacit representatives of the two sides that divide a world riven by identity politics. Both names are common sobriquets for Eastern European sex workers.

I should warn readers that this section of the poem necessarily contains much vulgar sexually explicit language and dark political satire, which may not be to everyone’s taste. I both apologize and do not apologize for that. The section is divided into four subsections entitled ‘Foreplay’, ‘Eye’, ‘Bar’ and ‘Date.’]


Kseniya and Zhenya’s dulled eyes

have been in the business for a long while now,

but they know how to put on a good show

in a hotel room, on the dark net, down there.

“Whatever Master want,” they coo,

flirting fleetingly, like serfs

through meth-damaged teeth.

“You want us dress up like schoolgirl,

pee on you, pretend we twins. We do.

Can’t show pussy juice

on US Internet? Russia free country.

Yes. You pay, we do that here for you too.”



Kseniya lounges back on the ambassador-

sized bed, smoking an Embassy and

watching a National Geographic Channel documentary

about extremophiles.

She thumbs herself distractedly. “That creep

didn’t get me anywhere near,” she laughs.

Zhenya touches up her mascara in the hotel mirror.

“They’re probably still filming us”, she notes,

blinking a little foreign matter out of one watery eye.

“Whatever,” Kseniya replies, looking up at the webcam

in the whirling fan over the bed,

sticking out her tongue

and waggling it about.



Kseniya picks the olive with a toothpick

out of her third straight gin, chewing

thoughtfully on it. “Love and peace!”

she blurts out. “You what?” Zhenya snaps back,

one eye firmly on a guy on the other side of the bar

giving her that look. “We do diplomacy,” Kseniya

goes on. “While guys play their games with guns

and bombs, we work with kisses and piss like UN

whores, with no limits and no borders, just

to keep peace.” Kseniya concludes.

“Shut the fuck up, Ksusha,” Zhenya

shoots back. “You don’t half talk a lot of crap

when you’re pissed.” “Like Florence Nightingale,”

Kseniya dribbles on into her half-empty glass,

as Zhenya marches off across the bar in pursuit of prey.



“Do you think I’m pretty?” Zhenya, already naked,

and high, talks into the mirror, as the secret policeman

she has just snared, struggles clumsily to peel off

his jeans on the hotel bed. “Yeah,” he grunts over her ass.

“I mean really pretty,” Zhenya insists, eyeing him

backwards through the dressing table’s mirrored glass.

“Fuck yes!” is the best he can come up with.

“I could be a movie star,” Zhenya goes on. “Sure.

Yes you could,” soldier boy pants, as Zhenya

eyes him pityingly with curled ironic lips,

a twinkle of cynicism sparking in her dark

dilated pupils meeting his.



‘Life in the UK’

Should anyone, to left or right, be in any doubt as to how hostile the current UK government is towards potential immigrants, check out this online test of knowledge of ‘Life in the UK’ https://lifeintheuktests.co.uk/life-in-the-uk-test/ and try doing it yourself.

Quite apart from the blatant neo-imperialist and pro-monarchy bias that pervades the test, it is obviously designed primarily to ensure that most candidates fail or (better) to deter them from even trying.

I was born in the UK and lived there for thirty years and like to think that I am fairly knowledgeable regarding its history and culture. I scored 20 out of 24 on this test. The pass mark is 18. God help you huddled masses if don’t know your ‘crown dependencies’ from your ‘overseas territories’!

Seriously. This test is shamefully and shamelessly ideological and racist and fundamentally flawed and unfair.

Anyone who still harbors a soft spot for Theresa May and feels sympathy for her in the self-inflicted Brexit pickle she now finds herself in would do well to remember that, as Home Secretary, she oversaw and entrenched this harsh immigration policy for six years. And those of you on the hand-wringing left who still pine for the ‘third way’ of Tony Blair should remember that it was Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett who first proposed introducing such a barrier to immigration in the paranoid aftermath of 9/11. Shame on both sides.

Globalization, which is the only viable way forward, cannot work unless freedom of trade and the international flow of capital are matched by an equal freedom regarding the global flow of labor and movement of people. Either you embrace both sides of the globalization equation and push both forwards with equal zest or you reject both and retreat like troglodytes into your heavily-armed protectionist caves.

The lop-sided middle way has brought us only to the bitter impasse we are all living through today. It is time for politicians on the liberal left to stop fudging the issue and hedging their bets and to be brutally honest about where they and we really stand.

200 Section 8 Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dee

[Section 8 of 200 introduces the characters of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb, whose role in the poem echoes that of the hookers Kseniya and Zhenya. Dumb and Dee, however, are far less likeable figures.]

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb

play dumb on CCTV in the police interview room.

“We love your Thomas Hardy. Great

poet. Great social realist. Jude,

climbing the spire of magnificent cathedral,

worker man. Your great prehistoric

megaliths. National heritage,

national trust. We get it.

Like Siberian Rock Art, our Lake Baikal.

We come to honor you as businessmen

and tourists and fans of sport

and bands, to do a deal that suits us both.

We do not come in vengeance

for Beckett slain or Jude undone

or for the slight your virgin queen

once did our Tsar Ivan.” Dee grins

as Dumb goes on to sum it up

with creepy nervous smiles.

“We come make money; fuck your local girls,

have a good time, not kill.”

“Piotr the Great worked in your shipyards like docker

back in day,” Dee adds. “He learnt your skills;

brought back wheelbarrow from you and now

we fly to stars and moon and Mars, and take you

with us on our ride. You give us stars of rock; our star men

teach you how to truly fly to stars. We are your

interstellar Uber drivers.” “We bring vodka, good

cheer, pussy galore. We love your pop

quizzes and pubs and football pools

& teams. Your bookies & hooligans best

in the world,” Dumb adds. “Just like your banks,

tax laws and property deals.”