Ukraine Poems

Evangelical Missionaries give bread to war-weary Ukraine people. Courtesy: NYT.

Just a few days ago we received three short, stunning poems from Vyacheslav Konoval, a poet living in Kyiv, the capitol of Ukraine. Slava, as he calls himself (his nickname translates as ‘Glory’) has been translated into six languages and widely published (as follows). In a short email exchange with me, he told me he’s a lawyer, and he described his circumstances:

“From the beginning of the full invasion by troops of the Russian Federation, I decided to remain in Kyiv. My house is located near the main road of the battles. . . . My mother is a nurse in a military hospital, and I am a volunteer. From March to May 2022, my wife and I were in the basement of the auto garage. After the Russian beast escaped, I returned to my daily life. I still donate to the army, and I spread the truth to the world.”

After reading Slava’s poems, which we reproduce below, I sent him one I wrote, based on a Ukrainian folksong, at the start of the conflict in February 2022, which I’ll also share here.

Jeff Kaliss, Poetry Editor


Dispatches from Kyiv
by Vyacheslav Konoval

March 23rd

In the reign of the darkness,
incessant rain falls
in the trenches.
The shriveled fighter has lost a foot.

Having adoring spring,
never wait for her dance.

The soldier is steaming,
ashes scattered by relatives.

Courtesy CNN.

Prison Hero

Had cut off the head of a Ukrainian fighter,
a recruited Russian Ivan
under the Prigozhin Wagner deception.

Would you, Ivan, go down in history
as the famous liquidator of the Nazis?
Look, please,
in the steppes of Primorye
the Buryat brothers,
comrades of the Russians are rotting.

Propaganda howls in Moscow,
she collects murderers
a hot ballad awaits them,
the raping temptation of Ukrainian buttocks.


Two-Faced World

Indifference is the perfect modernity,
it consumed the taste of criminal acts
it is going into oblivion,
and with them the greatness of the truth.
Is it so?

As black and white colors turned gray today
as good and evil – that is already a separate matter,
it flies here and there like a bird.

Empty words are almost the norm,
balm warms selfishness,
«one fighter in the field» has a different form.


Vyacheslav Konoval is a Ukrainian poet whose work is devoted to the most pressing social problems of our time, such as poverty, ecology, relations between the people and the government, and war. His poems have appeared in many magazines, including International Poetry Anthology, Literary Waves Publishing, Sparks of Kaliopa, Reach of the Song 2022, Diogenes for Culture Journal, Poetry for Ukraine, and many many more.


Golubitsa Moya (My Dove)
by Jeff Kaliss

Golubitsa moya, golubitsa!
Dove of love,
why must you warble across the dawning
of a day of dooming,
coo coo coo into the coming
of the crawling of the cruel,
while all the world is watching
but not hearing,
as you grieve for the heaven
you should have along your hills,
the ample ancient quiet fruit
now spoiled by their speeches,
rotted by reports.

Golubitsa moya, golubitsa!
Where is, there is
a joyous song for you,
for us for you upon our unarmed hands.

Your wings have wearied waving over borders,
your airstreams chased by flights of greedy metal,
how can you watch for beetles and for flowers,
how could you know how home should look and smell?

Golubitsa moya, golubitsa!
I hope our hands can learn to handle loving
I hope voices can learn your melodies,
and we might make a chorus for your cooing.

But now I’m forced to hide far from your sky,
or find a way to fly, without your wings,
to someplace that is not at all my place,
to somewhere where they may not sing my song.

Golubitsa moya, golubitsa!
Please find a way to follow,
to hide inside my heart and keep us warm,
I promise I will keep us safe in kindness,
and I will find a way to bring us home.