Friday, January 26, 2024




This is how you stand for a family photo,

look into the eyes of the photographer

the way you'd look into the eyes of a bird

perching outside your window:

remember me, wrathful bird's eye,

when we meet next time,

on the other side of this piercing — like a scream — life,

on the other side of anxious—like a stream— solitude.

Remember my hands,

still without poisonous ink under the fingernails,

remember my voice

which still doesn't have the nails of a man's rage,

remember the gratitude of children

who take sweets on Easter day from the gravestones

of their parents.

In forty years I won't talk in my dreams

with dead characters from novels I've read.

There won't be this magnetic moon

above the open fracture of the road.

In forty years no one will hold me

when I jump into May lakes.

Projection booths will be locked,

the tombs of school library stacks looted.

Remember me, history, looking like a bird

forced into the fog of borderlands every year.

Reflections of bright faces on my palms.

Women and men from the 70s like dead planets

illuminate the summer air.

In their dreams children talk with dead captains.

Children emerge from darkness guided by the photographer's voice.

They run across childhood

like lizards running across a road in July.

They stand in the backyard,

staring suspiciously  into the eyes of history.

Sing, dead poets

who've ended up in schoolbooks

like starlings in cages.

In songs they celebrate the motherland

of a sky scorched throughout the summer.

The surgical suture of a poem cleanly re-written darkness.

The black flower of rain slowly grows between rivers.


Serhiy Zhadan

A New Orthography

poems translated from the Ukrainian

by John Hennessy & Ostap Kin

Lost Horse Press, 2020