Sunday, November 16, 2014

November: Holodomor Remembrance Month

November is Holodomor Remembrance month. The Holodomor was a terrible time in Ukrainian history (1932-33) where several million Ukrainians perished due to a "famine" brought about by Josef Stalin's attempt to break the spirit of the independent Ukrainian farmers. The author of Dr. Zhivago, Boris Pasternak who visited the area during the famine wrote: 
What I saw could not be expressed in words. There was such an inhuman, unimaginable misery, such a terrible disaster, that it began to seem almost abstract, it would not fit within the bounds of consciousness. I fell ill. For an entire year I could not write.
My poem focusing on the Holodomor was published a few years ago by Apropos Literary Journal but the link is non-functional. Here it is below with a photo of the heart wrenching sculpture marking the tragedy in Kyiv.


Blue sky over a field of grain.
And in the square a little girl
in braided hair stands alone 
in grief with hollow, sightless eyes.
Deep thoughts have been taken away
by her deep pain.

                             Deep calls to deep
and sorrow to sorrow. I would give
her hope but all I have are my tears
falling into Lybid’s stream
while hers fill the wide Dnipro.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Anniversary number thirty-four

For Terri, August 16, 2014

The heart in winter still stays warm
while the world is bleak and cold.
Though we age, our cups brim full
as love matures and grows old.
Dawn long spent: twilight comes
and when the darkness fills with fear
our hearts stay warm as we embrace
each other while the night draws near.
Night is short lived, death will die;
the day-star will again shine bright.
Eternal love can never fade
into the darkness of the night.
My love, I'll never leave you alone
but will remain until night has gone.

It is my habit to write a poem for my lovely wife for our anniversary. I generally do not submit these for publication--and true to form, this will not be submitted to any publishing group or site. But I did want to share it with others.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Latest Poem: "To Pray With Priests"

My latest poem to be published is "To Pray With Priests" in Vox Poetica. You can access the poem HERE.

The poem was written during the height of the Maidan (Maydan) protests in Kyiv. It was based on a photo of a small group of priests standing between the two warring factions: the protestors on one side and the line of Berkut riot police (rigid and behind their shields) on the other. The ground was a sea of ice illuminated by halogen lights casting an unearthly and unsettling glow over the whole scene.

Go to the site and please post a comment.

I am hoping this poem along with several other pieces focusing on Ukraine will be published soon by Unbound Content (author page here). The collection Hope is the Last to Die: A Ukrainian Passage is due out sometime this year.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Poem published in Deep South Magazine

In February, Deep South Magazine published my poem, "Driftwood." You can access the poem HERE.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Happy birthday, Daughter

(for Alyssa, January 17)

You were born
in winter’s cold: snow chased
and pushed us forward just in time
to push you out.  We joke about
Macbeth and McDuff. The wind pushed
rather than your mom. Untimely
ripped you were from her: tiny
but hardy, strong enough to
subdue any tyrant who
tried to stop the moving wood

or the wind who gave you birth.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Roses of Donetsk

In dreams I walk down darkened streets
of the city I’ve grown to love.
My heart is heavy, my red rimmed eyes
fill with tears that fall for the blood
yet spilled, the cries yet voiced
but are waiting to be unleashed
unless violence dies and hate-filled eyes
are exchanged with God’s peace.

Flags are flying, allegiances made,
loyalties are tested and tried.
But in the middle of gunfire and noise
the voices of saints still rise.
And God still hears the heart-felt prayers.
He waters the earth with his tears.
But he cannot force them to hear his voice;
they must open their hearts to His.

War is the language of politics
of nations, tyrants, and kings.
But children are crushed and their homes are cursed
by the desolation it brings.
So they look to us in simple trust
while we bicker, struggle, and fight.
Dare we look in their eyes and give up our lies
to follow them into the light?

Cry for the roses of Donetsk:
for the hearts of the people to grow and be bright.
Pray for the children of Donbass:
that out of the darkness they’ll lead us to light.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Svyatogor’s Bed

I was always proud of strength,
the only thing a mountain loves.
And once I bragged to God if there
were just a place to set my feet
I could carry the weight of the world!
Earth bound legs were only a shade
of what would come. If only God
had given me the sense of my horse
I would still be alive.
Ilya tried his best to best
(how those Kyivan flies can bite).
At least he could plainly see
the value of humility.
But even that broad sword
of Muromets could not free
me from my pride. Now I lay
me down in sleep, wrapped in wood
and iron. My brother Muromets,
the mighty do not fall, they sleep
in beds they make for themselves.

Svyatogor was a bogatyr (knight) of the Kyivan-Rus time period (Kyivan-Rus primarily covered the territory of Ukraine and beyond). Legend has it he was a giant with shoulders two-three yards wide. Ilya Muromets was briefly his companion. The name svyatogor means mountain. Legend has it he and Ilya discovered a coffin on their journey. Svyatogor climbed inside and bid Ilya cover him with the lid to see if it fit. It fit him perfectly. Unable to remove the lid, Ilya tried to hack it off but with each blow of his sword an iron band wrapped itself around the coffin. Svyatogor bid his companion leave him to his fate and the sorrowful Ilya obeyed.