Once again, this issue is dedicated to the brave and indomitable spirit of the Ukrainian people in the face of the unimaginable. We stand with Ukraine. Slava Ukraini!
Dave Lewis is a working-class writer, poet and photographer from Cilfynydd. He read zoology at Cardiff University and has always lived in Wales apart from a year, teaching and volunteering in Kenya. He founded the International Welsh Poetry Competition – the biggest in Wales. He also runs Writers of Wales, the Poetry Book Awards and book publishing company Publish & Print. He has published many books. His epic poem, Roadkill, deals with the class struggle, while his collection, Going Off Grid, outlines the dangers of digital capitalism. Resolutely untrendy he is shunned by the literature establishment in Wales.
If you might thread your way
through the pine forest up above
the ancient oak and holly trees
having crossed the clear, cold stream
after the hazelnut and blackberry rows
once you leave the old path behind
you will feel the soft damp carpet
of brown needles beneath your feet
and be walled by silent echoes
only broken by the screams
of dark corvids bawling in peril
or squirrels scampering fast
as the goose hawk unfurls a claw
and the paradise is shattered
as a murderer hops along
then sees your giant shadow
and disappears all too soon.
Geoff Sawers has written several non-fiction books for Two Rivers Press and illustrated maps for the Literary Gift Company. His poetry publications include Scissors Cut Rock (Flarestack, 2005) and To The Forgotten (with Giles Goodland; Goose Cathedral Press, 2014). He lives in Reading, UK, with his disabled son.
Rugged migrant, a grey-brown blur
in twilight fields behind your eyes
that watermarked letter imprints you
leads you at dusk to the darkened stair
and a cloud of questions why.
Yellow bottle-glass, a fragment re-used
in a post-Reformation church window
strains the sunlight through its brittle skin
each rapt hind-wing beaked
is a Romanesque archway.
piping lute-string, ledge-liner
sulfur-miner, minor cousin
rain-sheltering by the dozen
hand-drawn maps of where to find yer
Six-spotted burnet moth
Velvet clubs at the ready
Burgess and Kubrick got nothing on this
in messy leguminal grassland climbing
from the depths to the heights and
leaves you with a faceful of crimson
Run your fingers through the heather
restless roll in strong Spring sun
quiet cunning, they’ll never catch you
track back turn tail and undermine us
waken to the curlew’s cry
Miriam Calleja is a Maltese poet and translator. She writes in Maltese and English. Her poetry collections, Pomegranate Heart (EDE Books, 2015), and Inside Skin (EDE Books, 2016) have been described as ‘fresh’, ‘intimate’, and ‘sensual’. Her recent poetry collections are Stranger Intimacy (Stamparija Reljic, 2020) and the collaborative art book Luftmeer (2021) published in Holland. She has been published and translated in several poetry anthologies worldwide. Miriam has performed during the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival (2020/2021) and Schamrock Festival for Women Poets (Munich, 2020).
Translated from Maltese by Miriam Calleja
Woman who opened your hands to my embrace
and uncovered the garden of your rising and falling chest,
you are a babbling river that doesn’t know how to stop.
Woman who does not fear the gaze of men
who makes him hunger and thirst with desire
and pierces him right in the centre of his heart with arrows,
woman whose body is an invitation, entirely,
a sleepless and eternally ablaze volcano,
woman who kisses without getting breathless
and bites your lips until breakthrough,
moaning and shaking and wanting more.
Woman who stole her colours from the rainbow
and stole her pupils from the suns and stars,
and stole hips and stole arms and heart,
I don’t know, I don’t know what you did to steal all this,
and you stole your fruit from the garden of Eden,
this sacrament drunk only by gods
you snatched it while they slept
this sacrament, this altar, this half of everything.
Your bite is too strong
and your hair makes me dizzy tangled in mine,
and your weight upon me is about to choke me.
Here, choked in your arms, every man dies satisfied.
Woman, in every scratch your thoughts bleed,
and your mind is an ocean, always aroused.
Woman who knows, woman who wants, I give up
my masculinity for you. Take everything I have
for you are fully feminine
sorceress of greatest secrets, Paris.
By Oliver Friggieri
Mara li ftaħtli idejk biex nagħfsek miegħi
u kxiftli l,ġnien ta’ sidrek tiela’ w nieżel,
int xmara tgelgel li ma tafx kif tieqaf.
Mara li ma tibżax mill,ħars ta’ raġel
u tqabbdu l-ġuħ u tqabbdu 1-għatx tax-xewqa
u tinfdu dritt fin,nofs tal-qalb bil-vleġeġ,
mara li ġismek fih stedina waħda,
vulkan li ma jorqodx u dejjem jaħraq,
mara li tbus mingħajr ma taqta’ nifsek
u tigdem bejn xofftejk sakemm tiskopri,
u tingħi u titriegħed u trid aktar.
Mara li sraqt ilwienek mill-qawsalla
u sraqt il-ħbub t’għajnejk mix-xmux u 1-kwiekeb,
u sraqt xoff~ejk min-nar, ħaddejk mill-qamar,
u sraqt ġenbejk u sraqt dirgħajk u qalbek,
ma nafx, ma nafx x’għamilt biex sraqt dan kollu,
u sraqt il-frotta tiegħek minn ġo 1-Għeden,
dal-kalċi jlegilguh 1-allat weħidhom
u int ħtafthulhom meta kienu rieqda
dal-kalċi, dan 1-artal, dan-nofs ta’ kollox.
Qawwija wisq din 1-għafsa ta’ bejn snienek
u xuxtek tistordini mħabbla miegħi,
u t-toqol tiegħek fuqi se jifgani.
Hekk, fgat fdirgħajk, imut kull raġel hieni.
Mara, fkull girfa jnixxi l-ħsieb ta’ moħħok
u moħħok oċean, imqanqal dejjem.
Mara li taf, mara li trid, inċedi
quddiemek irġuliti. Ħu kulm’għandi
la minn fuq s’isfel inti femminili, s
aħħara tas-sigrieti l-kbar, Pariġi.
Beatrice Szymkowiak is a French American writer. She is the author of RED ZONE, a poetry chapbook. Her work has also appeared in many poetry magazines including Terrain.org, The Berkeley Review, The Portland Review, OmniVerse, The Southern Humanities Review, and others. She graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2017, and obtained a PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2022.
By the Porch, As You Await the Storm
I am, what lurks at dusk in your quivers and whispers, words of capture. A book ruffles. Hurricane lamps flutter. Shadows figment wild beasts from your hands. I sigh against your palm, the stillness that seizes the prey, before you clench your fist. Rain falls, releases Earth.
“[…], and the musky odor of pinks filled the air.”
The Awakening, Kate Chopin
From lavender swarm,
through bedroom sheer,
our seamless sleep.
On March 7, 1876, the Mississippi River suddenly changed course near the settlement of Reverie, Tennessee. This abrupt change of course left Reverie and a small part of Tipton County attached to Arkansas and separated from the rest of Tennessee by the new river channel. As this change of course was the result of an avulsion, and not of erosion or accretion of soils, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the state line would not be modified. Reverie and what is now Centennial Island would remain part of Tennessee.
after Mississippi River Tragedies: A Century of Unnatural Disasters by Christine A. Klein and Sandra B. Zellmer
nestled in your oxbow I
heard frog song figments
chanting the change
of your arm
down steepest slopes
where catfish don’t swim along
set State lines anymore
where we become a hundred year no man’s land
lit by fireflies
labeled island 35
until judges declare
the shift of your arm was not
from incremental loss and lock
but sudden mystical bond
A 2017 NJ Council on the Arts poetry fellow, Nicole Ross Rollender is the author of the poetry collection, Louder Than Everything You Love (Five Oaks Press), and four poetry chapbooks. She has won poetry prizes from Palette Poetry, Gigantic Sequins, CALYX Journal, and Ruminate Magazine. Her work appears in Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets, Nashville Poetry Review, The Journal, Ninth Letter, Puerto del Sol, Salt Hill Journal and West Branch, among many other journals. Nicole is managing editor of THRUSH Poetry Journal, and holds an MFA from the Pennsylvania State University. She’s also co-founder and CEO of Strand Writing Services. Visit her online: www.nicolemrollender.com.
Prophecy i: War in an Unnamed City
A dream of figs. Warm wind blowing in off the sea. We’re at a café table drinking chai shivering
with thick cream. The war starts somewhere in a nameless city. You’re calm: you run your fingers
on the stone tabletop. “The sky’s violet. I’m getting hungry.” Yet, no mention that now, is the future. We may never see our home again. The touch of the silk sheets, the horse’s sturdy brindle back, soft blueberries. I think of my grandmother, leaving Poland. The homeland only in memory. The clock
moving forward. I can’t remember the name of the city where the war starts. Yet, it has begun. Blaze
of never being able to _______ again. Your thick pork soup burbling, the sorbet orange sunset
flooding the sky. Sipping comfort food from the Old World. A world that, now, no longer exists.
Prophecy ii: Golden Light in the Trees
These nights, I want to say everything, as the time shortens. My body burns from the soles up. My
dress lit up as if struck by lightning. My body a rod you’ll need to cut from the red fabric. My wrists
leak violet light, the space between my shoulder blades open. My body’s a living crypt. Strange
dialects in shadows. You can’t hear this? “You are in turmoil… in snares… a great spiritual battle…
insidious oppressor of souls.” There’s still illuminated clouds in the sky. My body a box. The rain
coming with blood. I take off my shoes. The distance between my body and those I love grows.
They won’t ask. I won’t say I don’t have much time. There’s still time. Everything is different now.
Linda Levitt is a poet and writer living in Deep East Texas, where she teaches communication and media studies. She holds an MFA in creative writing and a PhD in communication. She was recently awarded a fellowship for the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and published poems in Roam and Ekphrastic Review. Her first book, Culture, Celebrity, and the Cemetery: Hollywood Forever, was published by Routledge in 2018.
A guardian to anchor me,
I name her into being:
Malin. She says her name
means “strong, little warrior.”
Almost an insult, I say,
the diminutive sings out
a weakness, despite your assertion
of strength. Not frail, Malin.
She is fire and flame,
arms reaching skyward
with sparks dancing on her fingertips,
pressing her strength into mine.
A guardian to set me free,
I name her into being:
Sezia. She says her name
means, in Russian, “defender.”
My heritage, like Sezia’s, in the stones
of Russia and the boundary-less space
of East Europe where my ancestors
whose names are still on the tongues
of their descendents, had their identity
shifted from one loyalty to another,
remaining to each other
and to their tribe.
Both of my grandmothers, named Esther,
Feels more of a gift than mere coincidence.
In the Bible, Esther means hidden,
In Hebrew, Esther is Star.
Two guardians to watch over me,
to anchor me, to set me free.
Shannon Kenny is an actor and writer from Durban, South Africa. Her flash fiction, poetry or CNF has been published in Rejection Letters, 100 Words of Solitude, Lockdown BabyBabble, Janus Literary, The Manifest-Station. As a mother and teacher of young children, her hope is that she would be able to leave the world in a better place than she found it.
Notes on War
Wars are fought on sunny days
while starlings chirp and swirl
and babies are born
and couples fall
in and out
Wars are fought in the pouring rain while spiders cling to silken thread and earthworms burrow
and memories flood
Wars are fought in the dead of night while distant neutron stars collide and precious gold
is flung across
Wars are fought when the sky is blue
and the surf is up
Joani Reese writes poems, CNF, personal essays, and flash fiction. She has had two poetry chapbooks published, Final Notes (Naked Manniken) and Dead Letters (Cervena Barva Press). LitFestPress published her full-length, mixed genre book, Night Chorus, in 2015. She has won a few awards, the latest the 42nd Moon Prize for her poem Elegy. Reese lives and works in Texas and is owned by a number of recalcitrant cats.
His views seemed so dated, his fires so small, we bickered
among ourselves, knowing it all would wink out like a match flicked,
the world much too full to start blazing from one man’s resentment.
His flattened gaze locks and loads over new land.
Conscripts hump grievance, blast toys, spread our shame
over cities that yesterday we could not name.
And even with six million souls newly dead, the exhaustion
of pandemic years still ahead, this relic, war, raises its gaze
once again, a sewing of bitter seeds by reckless men.
Bomblets shower buildings, burn babies in beds,
bunker grandmothers, dust motes, no water, no bread.
We watch, safely distanced, admiration our mien,
compliment home-grown heroes, but we don’t intervene
as they beg us, how long will you wait as we bleed?
You, blinded by parlance, our vision honed, keen.
The hours grow longer while each trifling word’s tossed
from country to country like broken winged birds.
When the sunflowers stir from the bodies of boys
mystified why they died, who will write how we played
with ideas, delayed? Who will write how we waved
bright white flags with ardor at a criminal crossroads
when love was so rare?
Ellen Skilton’s poetry has appeared in The Dewdrop, Cathexis Northwest Press, The Scapegoat Review, Dissident Voice, Philadelphia Stories, Red Eft Review and The Dillydoun Review. In addition to being a poet, she is an excellent napper, a chocolate snob, a swimmer, and lives in Philadelphia.
Please Stop (Or, There Is Nothing More Tragic than War)
—After Morgan Parker’s“Please Wait (Or, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé)”
Please stop ignoring the toy soldiers in tiny fists on the playground
Until our lives are no longer defined by power and money
Forced-air heat making skin dry and scuffed new shoes
Talking heads glistening with sweat in day-break war zones
There is nothing more tragic than war: certainly not missed trains,
Or a kiss on the cheek on prom night, even mansplaining feminists
Whose battalions don’t let them cry or shower singing arias
Who demean and undercut female colleagues with a smile
Maybe they are dead inside
Maybe they will turn into fire or coupons for free things
There is nothing more tragic than war:
Not ozone depletion, or online classes on snow days, even cynicism
The fucking lies
It’s so insidious how the truth doesn’t matter
How audio and video evidence is like the wind
And feels like poisonous gasses we ignore
But one day the common good will be cool again
One day you’ll listen with both ears you’ll really hear
And resolve without resentment and worthiness will shine
Like fireflies in an open field in July
The simplicity of small bursts of light and their silent joy
A solace will avalanche into your throat
The forest trails will still be muddy, observed
Reading the history books, you’ll see the future and think OK
Human beings, though loveable, have mostly stayed the same
Maria Lucia Riccioli teaches literature in high schools and was a teacher of Italian and creative writing at the Archiepiscopal Seminary of Syracuse. She has composed lyrics for music and recorded CDs of Christmas classics and religious anthems. She writes for “La civetta di Minerva” and many of her works are published in anthologies, newspapers, magazines and websites. Semifinalist at the II National Championship of the Italian language led by Luciano Rispoli (TMC), culture organizer, winner of literary competitions, such as the one for the best reviews of Agatha Christie’s novels held by “Il Corriere della sera”, RomaNoir, the literary challenges of Porsche Italia, her story opened “Carabinieri in giallo 4” (I Gialli Mondadori, gold series). She published the novel “A skylark wounded in the wing” on the biography and work of Mariannina Coffa, the XIX century poet from Noto (Prize “Portopalo – Further South of Tunis”), then re-edited, finalist at the Kaos Festival in Montallegro (AG) and reported at the “Alessio Di Giovanni” Prize, then the collections of Sicilian cunti and poems “Quannu ‘u Signuri passava p’ ‘ munnu” and “Munuzzagghi e ratteddi” (Algra Editore) and the children’s books “The banawhale” and “Who stole my mum?” (VerbaVolant edizioni), protagonists of meetings and workshops for schools.
a bird that returns to fly
over the skies raped by rockets
stubborn and tenacious
clinging to a crumbling wall
on the slaughtered streets
the sadness that sets
among clouds of tears
and the smile that dawns
on the eyelids of a new-born
a dream a hope
a kind thought
A work of art
it is understanding and forgiveness
it is an outstretched hand
to give and not just to demand
to work and not to plunder
to caress instead of violating
to pray instead of haranguing interested lies
to pity instead of accuse
to build instead of wiping out
than instead of asking for it
you look for it in yourself
Dr. Ruslana A. Westerlund is a Ukrainian-born author, a linguist, and a transcultural human who uses poetry to inform the public about her homeland Ukraine. She immigrated from Ukraine in 1995 and has continued to serve her people through writing, activism, fundraising, and public speaking. Her most recent poetry has served her to process anger, despair, outrage, and cry for help to stop the atrocities committed against her people. Her poetry has appeared in Writing for Human Rights blog and Language Magazine. She is also a daughter of her Ukrainian father, an aunt to her Ukrainian nephews and one niece, and a cousin to her 20+ Ukrainian cousins who are in Ukraine. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
There are no words
Day 13 of War
March 9, 2022
There are no words
Sometimes they are stuck in my throat, swallowed along with salty tears
Sometimes they are unspoken
Replaced by anger, rage, despair, heavy sighs, tears, sorrow, heartbreak, groans, and deep deep anguish
Because there are no words for pain for unborn babies in mother’s pregnant bellies shot in the Mariupol maternal ward with an airstrike
There are no words for a human-body-size stain of blood from the body that was carrying a baby shot in that same maternal ward
There are no words for CNN headlines “Ukraine accuses Russia for bombing the maternity ward in Mariupol”.
Or Aljezeera’s headline “Ukraine accuses Russia of bombing children’s hospital in Mariupol”
How about a headline “Russian terrorists bombed a maternity ward and a children’s hospital in Mariupol today”? CNN and Al Jazeera, do you see the difference?
There are no words for humanitarian corridors being mined
There are no words for a family with children being shot in Irpin as they were running to the evacuation bus
There are no words for a heavily pregnant woman being carried out on stretches and not being allowed to give life to a newborn
A newborn who would play, giggle, run, play catch, color with crayons, go to school, study and recite Shevchenko.
There is no newborn to be born. Period.
There are no words for children trapped in the rubble
There are no words for terrorists except terrorists
They do not deserve the word “Russian army” because they are terrorists who kill unborn life
The only words I have are
Acts of atrocity
Maternity ward bombers
Who hold nothing sacred
Who kill women with pregnant bellies full of life
Death to the enemy!
There are no words today
Maybe they will come back tomorrow
But today there are no words
13-й день війни
Переклад Дмитро Комар
Іноді вони застряють у горлі, ковтаються разом із солоними сльозами, іноді вони невисловлені.
Заміщені гнівом, люттю, відчаєм, тяжкими зітханнями, сльозами, сумом, розбитим серцем, стогоном і глибокою-глибокою тугою.
Адже немає слів, які би описали біль ненароджених дітей в утробах матерів, розстріляних у Маріупольському пологовому будинку ударами авіації.
Немає слів, щоб описати пляму крові розміром з людське тіло від тіла, яке носило убиту дитину у тій самій пологовій палаті.
Немає слів для заголовків CNN: «Україна звинувачує Росію у бомбардуванні пологового відділення у Маріуполі». Чи для заголовків Al Jazeera: «Україна звинувачує Росію у бомбардуванні дитячої лікарні у місті Маріуполь».
Як вам такий заголовок: «Сьогодні російські терористи розбомбили пологове відділення та дитячу лікарню у Маріуполі»? CNN і Al Jazeera, ви відчуваєте різницю?
Немає слів про замінування гуманітарних коридорів.
Немає слів про розстріл сім’ї з дітьми в Ірпіні, коли вони бігли до евакуаційного автобусу.
Немає слів для важко вагітної жінки, яку виносять на розтяжках і не дають можливості дотримуватися постільного режиму щоб дати життя новонародженому.
Новонародженому, який би бавився, гиготав, бігав, грався у квача, розфарбовував олівцями, ходив би до школи, вивчав і розказував вірші Шевченка.
Немає новонародженого, щоб народитися. Крапка.
Немає слів для дітей, які застрягли в руїнах міст.
Немає слів для терористів, окрім терористів.
Вони не заслуговують на слово «російська армія», бо вони терористи, які холоднокровно вбивають ненароджене життя.
Єдині слова, які я маю:
Бомбардувальники пологового відділення, які не мають нічого святого.
Ті, хто вбивають жінок з вагітними утробами, повними життя.
Сьогодні немає слів.
Можливо, вони повернуться завтра, але сьогодні немає слів.
Learning the language of war
Language is experience …
How do you name things without experience?
I do not have any language for war because I didn’t experience war.
I have language for education, for linguistics, for praying, for celebrating, for encouraging, for mentoring, for supporting
I have language for sourdough, for gardening, planting and harvesting, for loving and living, for cooking and fermenting.
I know the language of peace and not the language of war
Today was the day for learning the language of war
I learned it in Ukrainian by talking to my family in Cherkasy, Rivne, Kyiv, Vinnytsia.
I learned it in English by talking to the reporters
I’m bilingual in the language of war
“The Kyiv city sky lit up with explosions” Київське небо засяяло від вибухів
“My cousin enlisted as a volunteer in the Ukrainian Army” Мій двоюрідний брат пішом добровольцем в армію
“We heard rockets flying overhead but we didn’t recognize that sound” Ми чули як ракети пролетіли над головою і ми не впізнали того звуку
“Gasoline is being rationed, 20 liters to save the rest for the army” Бензин роздають по 20 літрів а решта для армії
“The stores are empty, no salt, no matches” У магазинах нема нічого, ні солі, ні сірників
“There are no bomb shelters in our village” У нашому селі немає бомбосховища
“The root cellar is damp and cold but it’s safe” У льоху холодно і мокро але безпечно
I wonder what language of war I will learn tomorrow
Miriam O’Neal has 3 collections of poetry, the most recent, The Half-Said Things is due out from Nixes Mate Books in April 2022. Her poems and reviews have appeared in the LA Review of Books, AGNI, Lily Poetry Review, The Galway Review and elsewhere. She lives in Plymouth, MA.
Imagine a Poem for Ukraine
All afternoon at my desk. Wailing wind rushing up the glass
squirrel guard squeaking, feeders rocking on the shepherd’s hook
seed spilled, words scrawled across thin paper, last year’s
fallen leaves still able to stumble on stirred air.
Imagine, if you will, a voice earnest as April intones
the tale, and I wonder, Can I imagine anymore? Can I hold
in my mind the woman’s blasted body in Mariupol—
her meat and bones pooled in red?
No. Not that. Maybe if I look again at the children’s faces
where they crowd the shelter floor—the little girl standing
on her chair, black sweater sparkling with 2 tinsel stars
while all around her stare up and listen to her song.
Hands open as in a blessing for the crowd, face raised
as if she sees bright winter stars. Eyes wide, voice sweet
and clear, she sways and sings from Frozen, “Let It Go,”
Vidpustit’, vidpustit’— her audience agreeing.
She’s come across the world to me, a dove, a lamb,
spring’s promise pouring from her throat.
Against all odds, how can I not write hope?
How not imagine peace along with her?
Antonia Hildebrand’s first published short story appeared in Downs Images and in ‘Woman’s Day‘ Summer Reading’ and she has since been widely published in journals, magazines and anthologies in Australia as well as Britain and the USA and Ireland. She has reviewed books for the Toowoomba Chronicle newspaper. She has contributed to Radio National’s Bush Telegraph program. Many of her short stories have been broadcast by Queensland Storyteller on Radio 4RPH and by Radio 91.3FM Yeppoon. She is the author of eight books, ranging from biography, autobiography, essays, poetry, short fiction through to novels. Her latest novel, ‘The Darkened Room’ was published by Ginninderra Press in 2022.
And I will take away the stony heart
Out of your flesh and I will give you
An heart of flesh.
They have hearts of stone, these men.
These authoritarian killers
Sanctioned by state power
To murder entire families.
Like all of them.
A conga line of arseholes,
Stretching back to the cave age.
These old psychos send young men
Out to commit their crimes.
Young men who weep and want their mothers.
Conscripts who have been lied to.
Truth being the first casualty and all that.
But not the last.
Bodies strewn around the streets.
Unarmed civilians murdered so that,
Far away in the Kremlin one man can feel
That his life has not been in vain.
The corpses are his legacy.
The bombed buildings, his monuments.
Alone in early morning silence,
He remembers an inescapable fact:
Others must die so that he can forget.
Ring the panic bell,
Turn a heaven into hell.
Dominic Windram is a personal tutor/poet from the North East of England. Currently, he is a regular contributor to October Hill Magazine and the Northern Cross: a Catholic newspaper that serves the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. Over the past 5 years, he has been a resident poet on PNN (Progressive News Network) and has also performed his work via Zoom as a member of a group named: Poetry Without Borders.
War in Springtime
Wintry winds still blow
Through grey, hollowed out buildings.
Yet, green swells bleed through
Hard, dry skulls, because it’s springtime.
This year, She offers
A strained transcendence: now,
A shadow, of Her
Former, hallowed self. There are
Few glimmers of hope
It seems. The light is perhaps
A little kinder.
It might enter through
The cracks in swollen empires.
O who wants to be
Condemned by cold steel systems?!
Flesh pink and milk -white blossoms
Defy the constant
Shelling. and yet the bodies
Cannot be gathered
Up. Dogs are viciously pulling
Burnt corpses apart
On plagued city streets as though
They’re merely saplings….
Here, in England, it’s the hour
Of the hyacinth;
Of the lamb and the leveret.
Even in old bones,
The primal pith is stirred and
A deeper purpose
Is rekindled. Yet, over there,
Despair has taken
Hold of the sovereign soul. Thus,
For the victims of
War, there is no blithe season
Of blessed rebirth. How
Alla Schwartz born in Ukraine Cherkassy in 1983, works as a High School teacher in Monroe Wisconsin. She has been a teacher for 12 years, first teaching English in Ukraine and after moving to the United States in 2014 she became a German teacher. She lives with her husband and her son who moved to the United States in 2015 but still has many relatives left back home including her father Anatolii. Alla is actively helping raise awareness about the war in Ukraine and hopes for a better future for her home country.
Let me introduce myself I am someone who was born and went to school in the Soviet Union Someone who’s great grandpa was a partisan and fought for his Motherland in the WWII Someone whose grandma told horror stories about Holodomor and starvation
Someone who grew up in Independent Ukraine and experienced Orange Revolution
Someone who tells her son stories about cossacks and chumaks before bed,
Someone whose friends and family live in Ukraine, Russia, Germany, America, Canada, Poland, Dubai, Denmark, Japan, etc.
Someone who has an American husband
Someone whose native language is Ukrainian, but she teaches German in American
schools speaking English and Spanish
Someone who woke up this morning to check on her father, who has been fighting
cancer for the last three years but is fighting against occupation of Ukraine the last three
days, who refused to flee to Poland and has been patrolling his town, his birthplace last
Someone whose goddaughter spent the night in the bomb shelter with her one-year-old
Someone whose friend’s daughter was trying to leave Kyiv listening to the sounds of the missiles when Russia attacked
Someone who teaches compassion and empathy to her students on the example of
Holocaust and can’t believe that the history lesson is not learned
Someone who is thankful that her almost 18-year-old son is now sleeping peacefully in
neighbor room but not signing up for the Ukrainian military
Someone who refuses to believe the world’s words that “there is nothing we can do” –
you can’t do anything ONLY if you are dead, until you are alive and your heart is beating
there is always a way to help, maybe not an easy one, but there is
Someone whose heart and thoughts are in Ukraine but who is living in Wisconsin
Someone who hopes that the world will come together and finally realizes that we are
all humans and we all want the same things: love and peace for our family, friends and
Someone who can’t change the situation and stop the war but can ask you not to look
away, don’t pretend nothing is happening, don’t let aggression, power and hater destroy
the world, speak up, talk to your children about horrors of war, teach them kindness,
show them love, support Ukrainian people
Sincerely, just one more Someone
Heather Duff’s poetry appears in her chapter within Belliveau, G. & Lea, G., with M. Westwood (Eds.) Contact!Unload: Military Veterans, Trauma and Research-based Theatre (UBC Press, 2020). Her poetry has also been published in Sameshima, P., Fidyk, A., James, K., & Leggo, C. (Eds.). Poetic inquiry: Enchantment of place (Vernon Press, 2017), and in literary journals such as Trek magazine, Descant, PRISM international, and Textual Studies in Canada. Heatherwas a finalist for The Malahat Review’s 2011 Long Poem Prize. Heather’s doctoral thesis incorporates a full-length play manuscript, with poetry, entitled Visiting Griffin. Heather’s stories have been published in literary journals such as The Fiddlehead, The Dalhousie Review, and Room of One’s Own. Heather Duff holds a Ph.D. (UBC, 2016), MFA in Creative Writing (UBC, 1986) and an M.Div. from McMaster University (1983). Heather is Artistic Director of Vancouver Youth Theatre, and she teaches at SFU’s Continuing Studies.
Crackle leaves, a windowsill:
this chickadee, lost himself
indoors, by Norfolk Island pine.
My neighbour, artist, mother,
reassures: “In the Ukraine,
a bird in the house is good luck!
“Turn off the lights, “she whispers.
“Give me a stool”.
Then, climbing, she stretches her hand,
to clasp that pocket bird,
carried to the door, and says,
“Bless that chickadee’s head”.
Then her hand, gently, opens,
and we stay, still, silent,
one fragile moment:
to watch that chickadee fly –
Upward, like a lost
and found, tiny kite
into free spaces.
Sara Burnett is the author of Seed Celestial, winner of the 2021 Autumn House Press Poetry Prize, forthcoming in fall 2022. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland, and a MA in English Literature from the University of Vermont. She lives in Maryland with her family. Her website is: www.sararburnett.com
You Go to Sleep in the Dark
You go to sleep in the dark, and strange too,
you wake in the dark.
Overnight, two story deep craters pockmarked the earth. But they were far from you.
Houses collapsed like toothpicks. But they were not your own.
Like the straw houses you read in fairytales to children. But they were someone else’s children.
In the morning, bodies are picked from under rubble.
In the morning, a man wakes for the first time without his wife and children.
Your grandparents saw this.
Your children may see this.
Such is the world we’ve allowed to go to seed.
In the morning, you wash strawberries bought in a plastic crate, spoon yogurt into bowls.
You should be glad for bowls to fill. But how can this be?
By chance you are here and not there.
By chance you hold your son in your arms alive.
You would be happier perhaps to think otherwise.
To write about buds breaking open is almost a crime, because it implies,
as Brecht wrote silence about so many horrors. But there they are—
flashes of yellow and purple pushing through snow!
A miracle not that anything is born, but that it survives.
Overnight, bulbs burst brighter than stars in the sky. But the city burning is not your city.
And the fires smoldering bear no memories to you.
You wake up to a war on TV and in the afternoon, you turn it off.
Now far. Now closer.
Now coming. Now near.
While you think of what to make for dinner,
a woman crosses a border with her children clinging to her.
It is the type of border you may never see: the type that reads
“this is your life with war and this is your life with war, after.”
How luxurious to look away. The hospital hulled. The school shelled.
Or to imagine that your lot to imagine has power, though it does.
It’s why poems are written, why people gather and sing, or march in lines
stretching across streets and borders or ladle soup into bowls to fill
empty stomachs, comfort crying children.
We sing in the dark of the dark because as Merwin wrote dark though it is.
You are a stranger to this day’s light if every morning
like the family huddled in a bomb shelter you do not give thanks
for having made it through the night.
You go to sleep in the dark and it is still dark when you wake.
You who rent this body, these ribs, this breath
so may your own voice grow hoarse.
Dayle V E McBride was born and raised in central Toronto and currently lives near Kingston, Ontario with her husband. She believes writing is the bridge that connects her family and her love of music and photography together; they all have a voice in her life. Her poem ‘Edges’ was inspired by recent news footage from a television broadcast from the Ukraine.
There are edges to cliffs and shorelines exposing an endless sky and wider sea.
There are edges to mountain ranges and the border between countries;
Edges to blood, bone, muscle and tissue;
To knives and guns, bullets and bombs.
Edges run along the dark stained hoodie of a young man broken with grief, shaking.
He is bent over a tiny body he covets; a body covered in white; a sheet heavily splattered with blood.
The edge of the blood pool grows.
There are edges along body armour, gas masks and tanks;
To damaged buildings and homes that bleed out the abandoned possessions of those that lived there just hours earlier.
Edges follow the lines of twisted metal, splintered glass and spikes of rebar in the wake of this vile war.
Sharper than this are the edges along skin and hair, lips, eyes and teeth;
Of tears and laugh lines, of smiles and kisses and long embraces.
Moving well past those edges is something else, something that carries with it a visceral punch; Courage, defiance, fortitude, perseverance, hope and yes, love. Love is here too.
A hand, spotted with age, runs fingers along the edge of an old photograph, another survivor of the carnage – a field of sunflowers captured one summer years ago.
A younger self smiles back amidst rows of spectacular yellow flowers, tall and robust;
Reaching skyward, undaunted and resolute in everything they represent.
Zev Torres, is a writer and spoken word performer whose poetry has appeared in numerous print and on-line publications including NYC: From the Inside, The Rainbow Project, Otherwise Engaged, My Father Taught Me, Flora Fiction, Three Rooms Press’ Maintenant 15, Maintenant 12 and Maintenant 6, and Great Weather for Media’s Escape Wheel and Suitcase of Chrysanthemums. Since 2008, Zev has hosted Make Music New York’s annual Spoken Word Extravaganza and in 2010, founded the Skewered Syntax Poetry Crawls. In 2022, participated in POETS BUILDING BRIDGES: A Worldwide Triangulation Project for World Poetry Day.
The Disquieting Sky
We consecrated our hearts and souls,
And the clouds bleed
When will we accept
That it is not my fault or yours
We cannot escape the intentions of
The disquieting sky,
That its portent will find us,
Loom over us,
No matter where we hide.
If only you had heard accolades in the silence,
Found contentment in the stillness,
Convinced yourself that a moment’s pleasure
Is neither an aberration,
Nor evidence of
Your malevolent nature.
If only you had,
Before doubt and despair conspired
To bind you with fatigue,
Drain the remnants of your vitality,
Drag you along twisting rutted paths,
Through an oppressive wasteland,
Into the core of a barren wilderness,
Then launch you beyond the temporal perimeter,
Far past the reach of those of us who will never stop
Wondering, caring, or calling your name.
Jason Ryberg is the author of fourteen books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection of poems is Are You Sure Kerouac Done It This Way!? (co-authored with John Dorsey, and Victor Clevenger,
OAC Books, 2021). He lives part-time in Kansas City, MO with a rooster named Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters.
Just as the
can’t stop the
of time and
even the snow
can only keep
a secret for
so long, so too
will this poem’s
and its quaint
most likely fade
from this world
before the flavor
does from your
or the rub-on
Any Given Night
I would wager
the single one dollar bill
and sixty-some-odd cents
I have in my pocket (or the
hundred and sixty-some
thousand dollars in gold coins
that I may or may not have
buried in rusty mason jars
out in my backyard) that
there are few night skies
on any given night (above
any locale the world over)
as congested with stars as
the night skies of Kansas,
nor spaces as all-over wide-
open with as much wild blue
yonder and mountainous
cloud range above, nor
rising and falling backroads
through rolling, tumbling hills
of green below.
Maryna Teplova is a PhD student and Graduate Teaching Assistant at the Department of English at Illinois State University, with 22-year university-level ELT experience in Ukraine, at Dnipro National University; she presented at conferences and conducted professional development seminars for ELT teachers in Ukraine. Ms Teplova is Lela Winegarner Fellow (2020), alumna of the programs administered by the US Department of State: New York University (2007); California State University, Chico (2004). As Head of the Board at NGO New Vision (Dnipro, Ukraine), Maryna is also involved in civil society activity, in particular, debate and other educational projects implemented by NGO New Vision.
What do you hear, right now?
Rejoicing at the first spring warmth?
Rapids on a mountain river
Overflowing with spring energy?
Or maybe you hear
Quiet spring evening in a village,
Bringing fresh smell of waking ground?
Or familiar sounds of taxis in the downtown?
Or the breath of the ocean
Washing the coast and gently caressing palm trees?
Now, what do you think they hear in Mariupol, Ukraine?
Gently rustling fields?
Or maybe they hear
cruel beats of bombs dropping on their heads?
Screeching and crashing of metal above their shelter?
Or maybe they hear
Moans and screams of children and women,
Stuck, pressed by the ruins
Injured by a thousand sharp needles
Bringing them ‘liberation’ from putler?
Or maybe they hear
the last whisper of prayer
Coming from the lips of the dying child?
Maybe they hear the sound of death itself?
Then what is life?
Is it always about this wall, this illusion
That separates and protects us from suffering of others?
Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. Her poems, articles, essays, and short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Highland Park Poetry, The Ekphrastic Review, Spillwords, Verse Visual, Silver Birch, Ovunquesiamo, and others. She’s a 2021 Pushcart nominee, Able Muse; received Best MicroFiction, Haunted Waters. She performs tales featuring food, family, nature, and strong women. Her chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, is out from Finishing Line Press.
Call of the March Moon—2022 (in Northern Hemisphere)
a full moon will call us
to spring’s sweeter days.
Clouds will determine how much of
any one of us will see,
but I take comfort in
moon’s beauty shines here
even when I cannot see it,
and it is shining also in
where instead of bombs,
I pray, that
moon’s glorious silver
will herald peace.
Giving Ten Cents
When the Hungarians revolted in 1956,
I was in third grade.
Treasure Chest comics, delivered to
my Catholic school desk begged my help.
The comic cost ten cents—almost half
of my weekly allowance.
Its drawings of tanks, children running
touched my heart so, until their pleas
ceased, weekly I dropped my other dime
into a collection for freedom fighters,
along with my prayers. However, that
bread laid on roiled waters that did not
bear fruit until years later.
In my living room, today,
pictures of children, mothers fleeing,
racing toward Poland, scroll
across my television screen.
The sight freezing blood
spilt on spring snow,
and announcers call for help.
I sent money yesterday to Ukraine—
more than a dime.
My dollars and daily prayers seem
a thin bulwark against the force of
Russian tanks and missiles.
As the Bear rumbles out of
hibernation swallowing up lands not his,
swatting at freedom seekers, protesters,
he tries to crush all hope.
He is stronger now than in 1956.
I pray that the will, the bravery, the hope
of Ukraine, to resist, defeat the Bear
will be fulfilled—soon.
Patrice Boyer Claeys is a Chicago poet with four collections: Lovely Daughter of the Shattering (Kelsay, 2019), The Machinery of Grace (Kelsay, 2020), Honey from the Sun (with Gail Goepfert, Blurb, 2020), and the chapbook This Hard Business of Living (also with Goepfert, Seven Kitchens, 2021). Recent and upcoming work in The Adirondack Review, Lily Poetry Review, Gyroscope and The Night Heron Barks. She has been nominated for bothPushcart and Best of the Net and can be found at www.patriceboyerclaeys.com.
Under the light
under the clouded night
all miraculous and alive
of twine rope
a blue trellis
put out buds of malachite, blossoms
safely encased within
all shades of emerald.
Body armor removed
they look like
Thirst & quench—
to be touched by some coolness
you must love what is raw.
Cento Sources: Eisder Mosquera, Carl Adamshick, Philip Whalen, Fran Haraway, Meghan O’Rourke, Jonathan Thirkield, Jacob Polley, Mary Carlton, Fady Joudah, David Tomas Martinez, Mark Rudman, Pascale Petit, Anne Waldman, Tui Scanlan, Brenda Shaughnessy, Mark Doty, Willie Lee Kinard III, Mary Austin Speaker, Debra Kang Dean, January Gill O’Neil
stout enough for
they are cut down and taken away
stacked up like pelts.
how their edges crisp in the pan
to celebrate the joyous day
its bitterness, too.
Cento Sources: Constance Enslow, Scott Greer, Alfred Kreymborg, Ronald Wallace, Alice Notley, Christian Wiman, James McMichael, Shelby Young, Jane Kenyon, Barbara Howes, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, Aileen Fisher, Marci Nelligan
One thought on “May 1, 2022”
So happy and proud to share my verses here to support peace in Ukraine… words are important and Beauty will save the world.