Selected Poem, klipschutz

Pope Francis Is Not As Bad
As The Rest Of Them But
He’s Still The Pope 

Pussy Riot
beats the pants off
hydrogen jukebox

for speaking
truth to power
& breathing fire

Ergo let the record
show what we al-
ready know:

the erotic disturbance
certain women command
when combined

with the fuse lit
by channeling
the ghosts of

Sid & Nancy
& assorted Ramones
in a church

while wearing red & green
& blue & yellow balaclavas

the very dance
Emma Goldman
cleared ground for

& triggers Vlad
to express his Motherlove
the only way he knows how


Copyright ©klipschutz



Art Credit: @Ukraine


This previously unpublished poem was written in 2013, inspired by Pussy Riot’s notorious performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in February 2012 (the title of the poem sets the stage for controversy: trouble with an authority figure in the Church). The poem was updated in 2022 in urgent response to Russian President’s Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine (a war, not a “special operation”).

Pussy Riot was formed in part to protest against Russian government policies that discriminated against women; their songs include “Kill The Sexist” and “Mother of God, Drive Putin Away”.

The poem starts in confrontation, comparing Pussy Riot with “Hydrogen Jukebox”, a 1990 anti-war chamber opera by American composer Philip Glass and American Beat poet Allen Ginsberg (and a term from Ginsberg’s 1955 poem “Howl”). The comparison quickly falls into Pussy Riot’s favour, “for speaking/truth to power/& breathing fire”.

With its short, staccato stanzas, the poem accelerates into the world of the self-described “foreign spies and feminists” to progress to a key insight: that the members of Pussy Riot have “the erotic disturbance/certain women command/when combined”. Their explosive nature, evoked in this poetic Molotov Cocktail, means a fuse is lit to channel other rebellious figures in pop and high culture. Tracing a line back through history, we encounter Sid Vicious, his girlfriend Nancy Spungen, the Ramones and Russian anarchist political activist and writer Emma Goldman, who advocated for the rights of women and is today heralded as a founder of anarcha-feminism, a challenge to patriarchy as a hierarchy.

This is a poem which gives you a possible answer to what everyone’s wondering: what is wrong with Vlad? The strong women trigger him to “express his Motherlove”, a phrase loaded with meaning (a mother’s boy with Oedipus complex, “the Mother Country”, a total mutha). The reader is left to darkly imagine how Vlad gets his kicks.

In a recent interview with the Guardian (8 March 2022), Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova (one of the three members of Pussy Riot who was imprisoned) said ‘”you cannot play nice with Putin….Putin is insane, so he might open fire at his own people.”


klipschutz is the pen name of Kurt Lipschutz. He is the author of, most recently, Mr. Congeniality (2021) and before that Premeditations (2019). His debut, The Erection of Scaffolding for the Re-Painting of Heaven by the Lowest Bidder (1985), long out of print, is a collector’s item. Along with Jeremy Gaulke, he edited Four by Two; a complete set (twelve issues) of the handmade mini-mag resides in the Special Collections Library at UC Berkeley.

He has also co-written a hundred songs released by Chuck Prophet.  Prophet and klipschutz are currently working on Temple Beautiful: The Musical. klipschutz lives in downtown San Francisco with Colette Jappy and three cats.



One comment

  1. Such a timely point dragging its finger from a time before when things seemed not so dangerous only to point to the many corners ahead and that there is danger always lurking around each one in some form or another!! World without end…

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