3 poems for Ukraine. by Adrienne Stevenson

Adrienne Stevenson (1)

Sisters, 1906
inspired by the painting "Carousel", by Olexandr Murashko (Ukraine) 1906 

the day before our trip to Odesa
that day of endings and beginnings
my sister and I went to the fair
dressed in our best shawls
long skirts flowing over backs
of wooden steeds, the carousel
would remain when we had left
but we would leave no trace

the day before we boarded the ship
to bring us to the new land
we visited the stalls selling
food we were sure to miss
borscht, holubtsi, varenyky
even if beets, cabbage and potatoes
were abundant there
they would not taste the same

the day before we left our home
cradling pysanky—fragile mementos
we spent one final day
in traditional costume
in the new land we would try
to blend in, go unnoticed
be accepted despite our difference
take on new identities

now it is the next day
we have arrived at the docks
passage booked, papers in hand
will our daughters, and theirs
thank us for taking the journey
for becoming something other
or will they cling to remnants
of the lives they imagine for us?

…never dreaming that many days hence
in a new century, their cousins may face
the same stark choice to leave their homes.

Taking Dictation

the decree came down today
imposing new laws to govern
thought, word, deed
our behaviour constricted
by populist tirade
we must conform
to an illogical ideology
the threats against disobedience
are real, life and death
anyone could hang
if the balance tips
madness and hate hold
too many minds
weapons in the hands
of the hateful, wield
horrific power, support
edicts imposed on the unwary
by the unknowing

must we take this dictation?
we, worms of the earth
can in our multitude
turn against the traps
tunnel in opposite directions
march in harmony, consent
to cooperate, pass judgment
on domestic terrorists
restore society to a norm
that rules against assumed rank
and deposes illegitimate tyrants

Grand Cycle

Propaganda enfolds us with words,
calling itself news.
Which lies to believe;
what pictures trust;
where find truth?
Senses fuddled; thought rebels
—we prefer silence.

Hatred buries hope.
Gap in understanding
opens a chasm;
entombs lost dreams.

Well into the second half,
outcome still uncertain,
players shift positions.
Onlookers scrutinize, criticize
—who's keeping score?

Mind numb with repetition,
thoughts that dominate
day and night
—doors open;
wheels turn;
wars end—
I still think of you.

Appeared previously on http://www.poetsagainstthewar.org 2003, site now archived

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Adrienne Stevenson is a Canadian living in Ottawa, Ontario. A retired forensic scientist and Pushcart-nominated poet, when not writing, she tends a large garden. Her poetry has appeared in more than thirty print and online publications in Canada, the USA, the UK, and Australia, most recently in Poetry for Ukraine, Lifespan vol. 4 Work, Glebe Report, The BeZine, MacroMicroCosm. Twitter @ajs4t


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Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie's first novel, Stillwater, will be released in the spring of 2023. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

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