Poem – Paul Wolffram

A Gift to Shostakovich

Shostakovich was a practical man.
With the world at war,
the rouble was hard to come by.
He decided it was time to
reassess the role of the
He joined the Leningrad Fire Department
there was plenty of work.
His second opera met
with party disapproval, the review
read “Chaos not Music”.
Shostakovich was a practical man.
He stopped writing music
(better silent than dead),
looked for music in other things,
gunfire, siren screams and the whistle
of the mortar shell that landed beside him.
When he recovered the war was over
and the people needed music,
but a piece of the war
remained in his head.
A shell fragment, lodged against
his temporal lobe.
When he tilted his head to the right
he heard Music not chaos.
Shostakovich was a practical man
and refused to have it removed.


Paul Wolffram

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