Aporia and Putin’s Lost Paradise

For of all there is a space that’s liminal
where we are not aware of who we are.
Everyone lives there sometimes, the criminal
the sole exception, since he’s never far
from his identity as criminal, adopted
by him as soon as it has been imposed
by judges who condemn him. He has been co-opted
to play this role because it is supposed
that it reflects his inner essence so that he,
unlike all other people, is aware
of who he is at all times, and society
confirms this to him almost everywhere.

Indeed that is what makes him so attractive to
so many writers, who prefer to follow
the lives of criminals, not saints. He rings more true
than honest people, rarely holy, hollow.
He alone feels sure about himself, his story
as clear to him as to the world unclear.
Defiant of the norm he lives without apory,
convinced mistakenly that he’s sincere.

The contemporary Napoleon of crime
appears to me to be Vladimir Putin,
for whom in no blank verse or rhythmed rhyme
no Satan for his paradise is rootin’.
The one that Vlad has lost is as imag-
inary as what’s read in verse that’s blank
by Milton. Putin will not make a haj
to any, but in Purgatory will tank.

This tanking may occur in Moscow. In the Kremlin
he’ll be condemned for a brief time to dwell,
till death transports this too aggressive gremlin
to somewhere that is genuinely hell.
When in a destination that is gorier
he doubtlessly will be cured of aporia.
enabling this cruel fallen Cold War Warrior
to be for what he did than Satan sorrier.

In philosophy, an aporia is a conundrum or state of puzzlement. In rhetoric, it is a declaration of doubt, made for rhetorical purpose and often feigned.

One reader of this poem gave this poem the following Panglossian gloss:

If the news (ruble crash, immobilisation of the oligarchs, EU weapons funding for Ukraine, failures of Russian strategy) is anything to go by, the criminal may be liminal very soon, in profound state of aporia, no?

About the Author
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at