Beware the bear, my father said,

and he’d been taken to its lair,

read the truth, and clawed his way

from its clasp, a gasp from death

where all breath slows,

in Siberian taiga snows.


Beware the bear,

that funny, honey, sunny-featured creature

which, as a host, will greet you

to its land of ice and hut-filled woods,

with a hug and, open-armed,

insist your stay is longer

than you’d planned,

or thought you should.


Beware the bear,

Which, as a guest, drops in,

often uninvited,

bearing greetings unrequited,

leaving nothing it desires.

Leaving only when it tires.

It seldom does.


Beware the bear, my father said.

Beware the bear.


Avoiding the rap – no apologies to Nadine Dorries ►


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jennifer Malden

Sat 28th May 2022 17:29

Terrifyingly interesting, and didn't know about the deportations. Was hoping for a putsch. Loved the poem.

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Greg Freeman

Sun 27th Feb 2022 15:15

Very useful and essential context, Julian. I see Putin has ordered his military to put Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces on high alert in response to “aggressive statements” by Nato countries. The man is out of control. No justification or excuses for his behaviour whatsoever.

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Julian (Admin)

Sun 27th Feb 2022 12:16

And, what I should have made plain was that my father was one of those taken by the soviets and put in the gulag. He almost died of dysentery there. I have talked to others who experienced the camps and the horrendous journey to escape Russia, our supposed ally at the time. You will not be able to change the current Russian leader's mind on any of this. Negotiations are futile. He does not see reason as we see it. He just wants their empire back and will not countenance anyone preventing him. The only real chance is if the Russians themselves can get his hands off the nuclear codes, which he has threatened the West with already. I see Trump has been cheering him on.

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Julian (Admin)

Sun 27th Feb 2022 11:38

Two weeks after Hitler's lot took Poland in 1939, they left the eastern part, around Lwów, now Lviv, to the soviets as part of their pact. Estimates of between 1 to 2 million people were taken by the soviets (about 360,000 ever got out) and sent in trains to the east, mostly Siberia and Kazakhstan, to be worked to death in the gulags; or in the case of 22,000 Polish officers and intelligentsia at Katyn, shot. When Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union, everyone thought Stalin would release the Poles to rejoin the allies. He didn't, instead resisting the Polish government-in-exile's pleas to release them, even if only for the war effort. Eventually, they reluctantly released some, but not all. They had horrendous journeys across Central Asia to reach the Caspian Sea, many dying en route. My father made it to Tehran where he joined the RAF and became a pilot. It is quite a story, which doesn't finish there... But, he predicted what would happen after the war in terms of Stalin's plans for Eastern Europe. Stalin hated the Poles for various historical reasons, in particular because the Poles beat off the soviets in their war of 1920-ish. That attack was to reinstate the land the Soviets lost after WW1, just as Putin is trying to do today with Ukraine. That bear has a long, vindictive memory, as we are seeing today. Well, you did ask.

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Greg Freeman

Sun 27th Feb 2022 00:30

Thank you for this, Julian. Tell us more about your father's (second world war?) experiences.

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