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Tuesday, March 15, 2022


by Colette Tennant

People walk past a crater from the explosion in Mira Avenue (Avenue of Peace) in Mariupol on March 13. (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP via The Washington Post, March 15, 2022)

streets filled with rubble,
a bombed maternity hospital, pregnant women
bloodied, lying on gurneys in a swirl of confusion,
Sasha, a baby goat with broken front legs,
trying to nurse a vet tech’s ear.
Her owner promised she’d return for her
because she loves her.


We watch the news from Ukraine –
refugees bundled against late-winter cold,
In between these stories, news channels
run commercials for various cures –
Nucala for severe asthma sounds great,
but it might cause shingles.
Trelegy treats COPD yet increases
the risk of thrush, pneumonia
and osteoporosis.
Farxiga, for chronic  kidney disease,
could lead to dehydration, fainting, weakness,
genital redness and swelling, and hypoglycemia. 

It’s a tricky balance,
the cure and its reaction, so
military experts sit with newscasters,
their hands folded on the studio table.
They discuss various scenarios
for how to help Ukraine, each one
peppered with what ifs.
One possible cure – establish a no-fly zone
unless Putin reacts with chemical weapons.
Supply warplanes to the Ukrainians,
order an airstrike on that 40-mile-long convoy,
but any of those moves might start World War III.
It’s a terrible quandary,
this war we watch between commercials –
trying to find a remedy for this devastation,
knowing the reaction may be awful.


Colette Tennant is an English professor living in Salem, Oregon. She has two books of poetry: Commotion of Wings, published by Main Street Rag, and Eden and After, published by Tebot Bach. Her most recent book, Religion in The Handmaid’s Tale: a Brief Guide, was published in September, 2019 to coincide with Atwood’s publication of The Testaments. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and have appeared in various journals, including Rattle, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Ireland Review, and Southern Poetry Review.