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  Mark Murphy

River of Blood

I end as a traitor to my party, a traitor who must be shot.

Sergei Mrachkovsky, 22 August, 1936

Night in Coyoacan. The darkness heavy with fear and longing.

Natalia Sedova awakens from her dreams. Gunshots

ring out in the Mexican dark… “They are shooting here,

in our room,” cries Natalia, her voice, shrill and frightened.


The Old Man moves slowly at first. He is not afraid to die

and cares little for his own safety – he fires after his attackers

with his revolver, but it is no use, Siqueiros and his men

disappear into the May dawn and a pall of silence descends.


Quietly then, he remembers the names: Zinoviev, Kamenev,

Sokolnikov, Bubnov, Bukharin, Serebrayakov, Smilga,

Berzin, Krestinsky, Antonov-Ovseyenko, Joffe, Kiselev,

Preobrazhensky and Varvara Nikolayevna Yakovleva.


Lev Davidovich knows there will be no reunion of old Bolsheviks,

the Old Guard are gone into dust, they have been forcibly removed

from the scene of history and they will speak no more in the rabid air,

they have given their last brave breaths but the end was inevitable.


Trotsky recalls his trips into the mountains to collect cactuses,

and Natasha milling the grain for baking bread and tortillas.

He pulls his grandson Sieva closer to his chest and calls out

to his wife, “Natasha, they have let us live for one more day!”



Farewell, Leon Lvovich


Together with our boy has died everything that still remained young within us.


 Leon Trotsky



What terrible suspicions come to us in the dark? Sedov

is no more, the Moscow executioners have struck again,

they have expunged Leon Lvovich without a shot being fired.


No more will he ride the Moscow streetcars of his youth.

No more will he clean the snow from the Moscow streets.

No more will he step out under the Parisian sky with his beloved

wife, Jeanne.


He has gone to join his brother, Sergei and his sisters, Zinaida

and Nina Lvovna in death, only now will he gain the peace

he was denied in life by the ghouls of the Thermidor.[1]


For three days his mother and father mourn in the darkness

of their private room and they are changed irrevocably.

Now only the vengeance of history can console the Old Man.


Not until Stalin has been consigned to that chamber of horrors

reserved for the Neros and Caligulas will Trotsky

ever breathe easily again. His younger self is gone forever.


What dreams may still abound lie in the victory of the Fourth

International. Our only weapon is the truth... The truth will emerge…

Sedov’s words are etched into our minds until the end of time.


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