Year: 
2022

These are poems for Ukraine, written in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and with everyone who opposes murder and mayhem as a means to achieve political ends. 

We Are Here
by Michael R. Burch

“We are here.” – Volodymyr Zelensky

We are here. Were are here.
And we won’t disappear.
We are here. We are here. We are here.

We are here. Have no fear,
our position is clear.
We are here. We are here. We are here.

And yet we need help.
Will earth’s leaders just yelp?
We are here. We are here. We are here.

Our nation stands strong.
Will you choose right, or wrong?
We are here. We are here. We are here.

Now let me be clear,
Vladimir, dear:
We are here. We are here. We are here.

Keywords/Tags: Ukraine, Ukrainians, Volodymyr Zelensky, speech, Russia, Putin, invasion, war, resistance, Kyiv, Kiev

Epitaph for a Ukrainian Child
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.

Frail Envelope of Flesh
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Ukraine

Frail envelope of flesh,
lying cold on the surgeon’s table
with anguished eyes
like your mother’s eyes
and a heartbeat weak, unstable ...

Frail crucible of dust,
brief flower come to this—
your tiny hand
in your mother’s hand
for a last bewildered kiss ...

Brief mayfly of a child,
to live two artless years!
Now your mother’s lips
seal up your lips
from the Deluge of her tears ...

For a Ukrainian Child, with Butterflies
by Michael R. Burch

Where does the butterfly go
when lightning rails
when thunder howls
when hailstones scream
while winter scowls
and nights compound dark frosts with snow?
Where does the butterfly go?

Where does the rose hide its bloom
when night descends oblique and chill
beyond the capacity of moonlight to fill?
When the only relief's a banked fire's glow,
where does the butterfly go?

And where shall the spirit flee
when life is harsh, too harsh to face,
and hope is lost without a trace?
Oh, when the light of life runs low,
where does the butterfly go?

I Pray Tonight
by Michael R. Burch

for the children of Ukraine and their mothers

I pray tonight
the starry Light
might
surround you.

I pray
by day
that, come what may,
no dark thing confound you.

I pray ere tomorrow
an end to your sorrow.
May angels' white chorales
sing, and astound you.

The Ghost of Kyiv
by Michael R. Burch

Terrible angel, phantom avenger ...
abandon compassion, take to the skies,
seek out the murderers of women and children,
send them to hell with relentless eyes.

“It would be better for a man to be hurled into the sea with a millstone around his neck, than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” – Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, Luke 17:2

Behold the Men
by Michael R. Burch

If ever men were brave, behold the men:
they withstood the tyrant who attacked in vain.
If ever men were brave, behold the men:
the valiant men and women of Ukraine.

Something
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Ukraine

Something inescapable is lost—
lost like a pale vapor curling up into shafts of moonlight,
vanishing in a gust of wind toward an expanse of stars
immeasurable and void.

Something uncapturable is gone—
gone with the spent leaves and illuminations of autumn,
scattered into a haze with the faint rustle of parched grass
and remembrance.

Something unforgettable is past—
blown from a glimmer into nothingness, or less,
and finality has swept into a corner where it lies
in dust and cobwebs and silence.

Mother’s Smile
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers of Ukraine and their children

There never was a fonder smile
than mother’s smile, no softer touch
than mother’s touch. So sleep awhile
and know she loves you more than “much.”

So more than “much,” much more than “all.”
Though tender words, these do not speak
of love at all, nor how we fall
and mother’s there, nor how we reach
from nightmares in the ticking night
and she is there to hold us tight.

There never was a stronger back
than father’s back, that held our weight
and lifted us, when we were small,
and bore us till we reached the gate,
then held our hands that first bright mile
till we could run, and did, and flew.
But, oh, a mother’s tender smile
will leap and follow after you!

Haiku for the Mothers and Children of Ukraine
by Michael R. Burch

How can she bear her grief?
Mightier than Atlas, she shoulders the weight
of one fallen star.

Dark-bosomed clouds
pregnant with heavy thunder —
the water breaks.

The sun warms
a solitary stone.
Let us abandon no one.

You astound me;
your name on my lips
remains unpronounceable.

Born into the delicate autumn,
too late to mature,
pale petals ...

Soft as daffodils fall
all the lamentations
of life’s smallest victims,
unheard ...

Crushed grapes
surrender such sweetness!
A mother’s compassion.

My footprints
so faint in the snow?
Ah yes, you lifted me.

An emu feather
still falling?
So quickly you rushed to my rescue.

The eagle sees farther
from its greater height—
a mother’s wisdom

Dry leaf flung awry:
bright butterfly,
goodbye!

Late autumn; all
the golden leaves turn black underfoot:
soot ...

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