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Monday, April 25, 2022


by Bonnie Naradzay

Mariupol, Ukraine 17 April 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

I searched the ruined city for my brother
to consecrate him with a proper burial.
Snow was still falling in the cold spring then.
I stopped at a body pockmarked with bullets;
the fingers on each hand had been bent backwards.
I came upon a corpse without a head. 
Do I know him?  Oh, they are all my brothers,  
in mass graves everywhere, shoved into ditches, 
dead in the midst of life from this unholy invasion.
Now I myself am buried—in tunnels below the city,   
refusing to surrender to the enemy king who said
not even a fly will be allowed to leave alive.  
Sentries are everywhere, barricading the doors. 
Where oh where is the civilized world?
Some day, perhaps, Sophocles will create a tragedy
for people to witness—and make sense of this.

Bonnie Naradzay leads poetry salons at a day shelter for homeless people and also at a retirement community, both in Washington DC. Poems are in AGNI, New Letters (Pushcart nomination), RHINO, Kenyon Review online, Tampa Review, Florida Review online, EPOCH, The American Journal of Poetry, and others. While in graduate school, she took a class that Robert Lowell taught: “The King James Bible as English Poetry.” In 2010 she was awarded the New Orleans MFA poetry prize: a month’s stay with Ezra Pound’s daughter Mary in her castle in Northern Italy. While there, she had tea with Mary, heard cuckoos calling during mating season, and hiked in the Dolomites.