Launch\nSlideshowWe’re kvelling over contributing artist Margarita Korol, who was invited to exhibit her show, Spoils of War: Ode to a Refusenik Mother at the National Arts Club on Gramercy Square in Manhattan. The show, which opens tomorrow evening with a reception from 6 to 9, features a series of prints that illustrate an original poem about Korol’s immigration story. Margarita’s poem is after the jump, and a slideshow showing several of the 17 panels is to your left. Come by tomorrow evening!SPOILS OF WAR\n(OF A REFUSENIK MOTHER)Thank you isn’t enough\nTo say to a woman\nWho risked her life for you.\nBut it’s a start.Woods.\nTo see through\nTo the other side\nRequires one to blur\nThe rigid obstacles\nTo foresee\nA path\nDespite the brushShe went by way of Vienna\nA route\nThat promised better\nSomething\nAnything better than this\nThis waste\nOf potential\nEnergy within the individual\nThese roots are festeringShe went\nAlone\nBecause the others\nCould not\nWould not\nbreak\nFrom the system\nFrom the safety\nThat they knew.And she took me\nSmall helpless burden\nSleeping on a train\nOnwards to Italy\nWhere she waited\nFor more steps\nToward the outside\nLife she did not know\nBut that was hers\nNow that the outsiders\nStepped inThought:\nIt is my first.\nA woman in her lingerie\nScreaming\nAt a man\nAnd his leg\nTo which I cling\nVanishes\nAs she throws clothes\nAt him and away\nIn a box\nWith her heartShe and me\nWe leave.\nWe go away without the people we were to be nuclear with\nBut it wasn’t to be\nNot meant to be\nTogether.\nNot fate,\nBut different spirits.\nBeta fish who could not be in a tank with placid others\nWhere were their fins?\nTotalitarian piranhas already bit them off\nOr were they without them to begin?\nStarfish\nStay and float\nBut we swam and bit\nAgainst the current\nAway.* * *Screaming woman\nAn image that stayed\nIn the infant head\nAnd carried through time\nWhy?\nA marital tiff?\nCould be traumatic\nDivorce is hard on a kid you know.\nNo\nMore than that\nBigger\nContext:\nPolitical and radioactive.Babushka and Dedushka\nLeft the year before\nFinally\nAfter eight years in wait\nNot as persons in a kafkaesque waiting room\nBut as pigs\nIn their shit\nNot kosher\nIt didn’t matter\nMan didn’t care.\nNo more jobs\nI found out\nDecades later\nNobody would tell me\nWhy do you need to know?\nAmerica is best country.Flashback:\nBack lash\nHe said we will wait a year\nConvince his people it is the way to go\nShe waitedHis starfish people said no\nAfter a year\nSo he stayed\nWeren’t we his people now?\nI wondered often\nHe stayed\nStarting over\nMaking beauty\nThat I love.* * *Before:\nBefore me there was them\nEngineers who as Jews could not catch a fucking break.\nBreaking backs first in schools\nTo get their 100%\nAnd after oral examinations\nTold\nThey were not good enough\nFrom birth\nWhat to do?\nTry again\nFight for\nSuccess\nSuccess of the individual\nBureaucrats run out of official excuses\nAnd must bend and allow\nEngineers to become engineers.When Deda petitioned to leave this place\nThat hated them\nHe was refused\nAnd lost steam\nBorn to a Yiddish actress\nTravailing Eastern European borders with her troop\nA pregnant carny\nRunning away to Kazakstan\nDiasporic artists knew the non-speakers were coming\nTo take it away\nThem and their freedom\nBut others stayed\nBig family turned small\nSystematic loyalty killed\nLike abused woman staying with man.\nWhy? No logical answer\nMatters of the heart.Soviet system said to have eaten up mother russia’s children worse than Hitler\nNo statistics\nStatistics like a good wife loyal to patriarchy\nFather Stalin father Yeltsin\nSmooth his rage over\nAllow it\nfor his anger\nIs worse than this\nWhatever this is.Deda transplanted and becomes angry man\nAfter escape from East to Midwest\nNo discussion\nA too ugly past\nSad\nLost\nBroken and healed over funny\nGnarled knots in the way of pleasantries\nOkay, we accept\nBut not because we knew better\nDeprived of context\nWe did not know\nCultural memory\nStarts here\nBut now I know\nFighter comes out from battle\nAnd to only see ruin\nHow to think utopically?\nLove watered on him still\nMaybe anger will be stunted.Engineering jobs no more\nWhen they said\nI am a Jew and I want to go\nBack to where I belong\n(say what they want to hear\nBelieve it if you have to)\nThey said\nNo—Fuck you\nAnd fuck your degrees\nAnd your families\nAnd your dignity\nTraitor.Eight years in wait\nIn debased lifestyle\nUnspeakable\nStories still in pits buried in the woods\nDo not dig them up for it is pure\nRadioactive painYears in wait\nHis first daughter meets a boy\nLove\nThey marry\nNo! We are leaving! No new roots!\nThey say to her\nBut\nLike them she does not listen\nPulls branches toward individual happiness.A dream:\nWhat is life if Baba and Deda let to go instantly?\nLife In Israel?\nNo not where they belonged\nOpportunists head West\nWith two young daughters\nAnd two old parents\nAnd others\nSchlep to Chicago\nOldest daughter meets American man\nNo babies yet so better picks\nHandsome man\nKind man without soiled fingernails\nNice clean slate\nNice bright future.\nIdeal that is illusion.Choices made\nI am born in thick of wait\nThank you father Brezhnev\nI owe my existence to your regime.Same week:\nNuclear meltdown\nSh sh sh national secret\nThe countrymen must not worry\nMust not lose faith in the motherland\nMay day parade and skeletons dance proving Patriotic loyalty\nMore waiting yet to leave this dumpShe takes plus one\nAnd waits in Italy with it\nuntil Americans say lets go.\nDirty Russians\nTake advantage of their own women in wait\nTrickery in the blood\nFrom decades of marination in croney system\nAlmost sold as prostitute while seeking shelter.\nJewkrainians are a hot item to Italian slobs\nHer instinct said leave\nSmells fishy\nAnother narrow escapeAnother day\nTo feed buckwheat made on hot plate to little girl\nFree little one does not know\nClose your eyes! Sleep!\nI remember how\nShe told me\nOn the trainOkay. Obedient little girl always\nBecause I trusted her love\nForgotten potty chair on plane to Chicago\nHeartbreak!\nThis small tragedy a luxury to girl in new life.\nShe does not know.\nFamily says “good.”\nThis is how life should be.\nSpoil the milk\nfor it is rich.Mama with baby girl\nStarts over\nMedical training in old country doesn’t count here.\nStudy\nWork\nLook for love\nFound\nIn men\nAnd lost\nAgain in heartbreak fruit is picked off trees\nChildren like sweet cherries\nDelicious lives cultivated\nShe tries\nStrong woman\nLike her mother\nWho was our rock, our heart\nOur MatriarchStill love big in hearts\nWe grow full of the good life\nI ask\nI want to know\nWhat happened\nWhere are roots from this fruit tree really?\nWhy do you need to know?\nReading black literature\nJealousy felt for woman\nWho has a grasp of her roots\nUgly ugly rings on tree yes.\nBut with context of trunk\nbranches strengthen\nFruit flowers\nWisdom and love\nLove for new fruit\nAnd love for old rootFound answers\nFrom Brave old men and\nwomen who dig in dirt and\nweed pain out\nFeeling feeling feeling\nIn the dirt\nIt’s okay\nAnd thank you to them\nBy the wayMother’s other babies\nBrother and sister\nAmerican born\nDifferent perspective\nSome Holes though at base\nFruit floating in spaceAnd the paternal sweetness\nTransplanted pomegranates in Israel\nNow another kind of imported produce to America\nSiblings still mine\nRipening and evolving\nTragic kingdom with a fresh fruit fallen innocently without systematic intervention\nEven when watered\nEven now in the democratic California sun\nWe are trapped on the tree wishing to have fallen instead\nAnd now must cultivate something in this seeming wasteland of milk and honeyThey did not tell you who you are\nRoots buried with erasing dirt swept under table.\nYou read and debate criticism of big new country\n“Down with these imperialists”\nYes!\nGood\nOpinions grow but\nRoots unfound stillMy sweet babies\nWe sit at the victory table with spoils of war\nDon’t you know?\nLook at this feast\nAnd all they now can give you.\nAnd bend down\nLook under table\nWhat is there?\nSo dirty\nBut put clean hands in\nAnd feel life turned chalk dead\nClean hands hold power\nBring these fighters at the table honey\nSweet potential energy\nFrom hives of progress\nIn American schools\nAnd on American streets\nAnd in American offices\nBring it back to them\nAnd know who is eating it.\nThey are your warriors\nThey fought and got\nAll of this\nFor youNow eat.