Dimitri Shostakovich

He frowns at me
across a half century
of violence and melody.
Shostakovich, who said,
They shouldn’t have made
such a fuss over my symphonies.
Each success meant a new coffin nail.

Me, hiding behind
an itchy beard in the moist
Ohio valley, who knows
more than I should
about the breeding habits
of the woodland vole,
who follows American football
and sits in a comfortable chair
beside an open window
reading philosophy and religion
before the sun rises each morning.
I am only beginning to understand
what is at stake.