Poetry for Ukraine: Bucha (Draft 2)

Bucha (Draft 2)

They say
in the South the invaders
are like Colorado potato beetles,
dumb bastards in the Donbas;
in the North, war creatures can have
the façades of men, but rampaging,
they’re wicked trampling valenki
who have no pity, no remorse —
boots on the neck, on the breast,
teeth on the prey like war animals

There would be blood
and worse.

Many days ago,
staging in hell, they had emerged
from the bowels of Belarus
blundering demons who
in evil malice would became
the Butchers in Bucha

Few would predict anything.

A noted psychic said,
there would be
unending screaming
and bloody guts
trailing in defeat,
war crimes

But before…

There were days of delay.
It was a while ago that we asked you to close the skies.

Sometimes the sky is blue
sometimes it’s been yellow too
in better days of sunshine
when she’d played with joy

She had her eye on a boy
but she hadn’t dated yet
and he went off to war.

It was a while ago that we asked you to close the skies.
Yesterday would have been an auspicious day for Daryna
if the sky would have closed, because

she would not have thought that
God was hiding, but would have invited
all the birds to come inside, and then

after a prayer,
she’d perform a dance
like a rite of Spring for
her dogs and for the birds.

She could’ve imagined sky openings
behind the clouds, and would’ve
believed that after her dance
the sky would open to heaven

It was a while ago that we asked you to
give us planes. Yesterday
would have been an auspicious day

Today the birds were in the open sky,
the dogs were in the street agitated

Today,
Daryna ran out to catch her dog

Today,
there were more invading Russian Kolorady

Today under the sun in the street
the evil Russian Valenki
came like savage psychopaths

Daryna’s Mother screamed under a blue sky
because today was like yesterday, and

today Daryna’s Mother watched as
they shot Daryna’s dog
tore off Daryna’s clothes
and the savages
raped her in the street,
and yet it is said

the sky is open

2 thoughts on “Poetry for Ukraine: Bucha (Draft 2)

  1. This is so painful to read. I cannot imagine the depth of emotion you’ve suffered to write it. Stunning imagery. Words and phrasing effectively placed. My heart goes out to you and all of Ukraine’s people under the boot of such a psychotic barbarian … again … while world leaders stand by with eyes blind by the fear of retribution. Shameful is the state of our inhumanity. It is but the tip of the iceberg.

    Liked by 1 person

    1.     Thanks. This was hard to research. I had very little to go on except people who were interviewed on the news and mostly in the midst of their emotion they were vague about details. Actually, as far as the poetry I didn’t feel anything until the last draft. It all started with thinking about the Ukrainian expressions I heard versus our American jargon. They said “Close the skies” while we get referring to the issue in a very clinical jargon as “the no-fly zone.” I saw no useful metaphors in “the no-fly zone,” but when I heard them say “Close the skies” I thought that would be a good starting point. At first, it was kind of vague and needed an introduction, a theme, and a conclusion. Somehow, even though I don’t realize it at the time, I always seem to start in what would become the middle of the poem. In my first notes it wasn’t very personal and was more philosophical or like preaching or a report of facts. So rather than “they” and “she”, I decided I needed a particular person. I googled “baby names for girls Ukrainian”. Then I tried translating English words and expressions into Ukrainian with the goal of making it seem more authentic. Eventually, I decided that I needed to know how Ukrainians would refer to Russians. Oddly, googling on (I forget now exactly) something like “Ukrainian curses and insults,” I found a Radio Free Europe site that gave some expressions: the award ribbons that the Russians give soldiers in Donbas look like potato beetles so that’s been a derogatory term for the ethnic Russians in Donbas since 2014. Looking for rhyming words can lead to interesting changes and force a different direction.
          For me, it takes some effort to feel something. When I watch the news it’s a clinical exercise unless I make an effort to focus on one of the people on the ground — I imagine being them or thinking like them, and then I can feel something if I let loose and so to speak, go with the flow. Growing up I was told not to have feelings. In that vein I was always told “not to make faces” which meant to not look sad because that would upset my parents who had “real” important things to worry about — kids had trivial and unimportant things to worry about and so a kid’s worries and anxieties were trivial to them.
          Well, I suppose I should have taken notes on process because now I don’t remember how I wrote the poem. I only have scraps of paper with nascent ideas, word play, and key words I heard on the news which I didn’t want to forget so I could write down some beginnings.

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