Noviy Rik (New Year) 1995

At a quarter after three
the day is fading
into the winter-gray clouds
that anchor the edge of the sky.
I look down
 from the edge of an empty plaza
where Grandpa Lenin once stood
confident hand clasped to lapel,
his back to where the sun now sets.
(They say he was taken down in pieces,
that for three days
only legs stood
where there once was a whole man.)
It is cold, just this side of frost,
and the terraced fountains
are empty, save for dead leaves
and cigarette packs
and three little boys
who whisper conspiratorially, 
offer furtive looks
to the sky-gazing shapka-headed poet.
An old woman shuffles
around the perimeter of one fountain.
On the television
they speak of privatization.
In the living room
they speak of the obscene cost of butter.
At midnight
the day before yesterday
we drank Sovietskoe Champanske
and hoped that this year
will be better than the last.
What choice do we have?

Steven Boyd Saum