By Siaržuk Sys
Translation: Hanna Komar, John Farndon
“Hold on, guys!”
Another black day brings black snow.
Twisting all your nerves into knots…
Give me a ticket for Noah’s Ark to go –
It can be in hryvnias, euros or zlotys!
But where will you escape the fight –
It’s in your fluttering heart, your fingers shaking…
And the bloody dreams you see every night
And the dead shadows as the day is breaking.
And in the morning – from piles of cigarettes
Suffocating smoke drifts up from here
To the sky with its long tails of rockets
All the way from Chernihiv to Crimea.
No, there’ll be no tickets anywhere
Not ‘til the Moscowards are overthrown
And my essence will always stay here
Together with the Ukrainies, my own.
Kraków, February 2022.
Human Vistulas, Danubes, Dniepers
Flowing in grief, whirling in despair,
From Przemyśl to Katowice and Warsaw –
The Gulf Stream of bloody war.
Rockets overhead, mines and bombs,
Ukraine’s pounded, but Ukraine stands
Churches burn, but God fills hearts
Fight for freedom, fight to the death.
In the flames of hell, in the soot and the smoke
Is my Ukraine, my second home.
We’ll crack the spine of the raging beast
Together, and with faith and hope.
Schloss Bröllin, 9th March, 2022.
Fear lurks in the blossoms of spring,
You live in hope the nightmare will cease.
Yet over these words, you find yourself stumbling:
Kindness, sincerity, warmth and peace.
Washed clean by the rains of May,
Vilnius charms, hugs you closely.
Yet we’ve no accord, I have to say –
Ukraine is so much dearer to me…
And I dream of Chernihiv each night
And the monasteries of the lovely Desna.
I long to see once more bright sunlight
Dancing over the peaks of Boldina.
Vilnius, 19th May, 2022
I don’t have any poems about Vilnius, Ulya!
Everything around me fades and withers
Leaving only black and white sack cloth to show.
I’m sick to be in this foreign land I can’t love
Trailing my guilt behind like a shadow.
You see, Ulya, how hard it’s become
To live as a stranger, dogged by my betrayal.
Everything crumbles; wounds never heal…
Should I have agreed to go to jail?
But yes, maybe it’s time to meet
You and I are in Vilnius by chance quite.
Since my heart has blanched entirely
And my vision has become black and white.
25th July, 2022.