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A Poem, Night in Ukraine

Good night bombs.

Good night soldiers.

Good night tanks.

He said in the dark basement bunker of his home.

Above him the night lit up as arcs of bullet tracers raced across the sky

emphasized by the blooms of red and yellow explosions.

Beyond the booms were the rolling tracks of tanks.

The drafts of fighter jets

their percussions echoing within the clouds

of rising smoke.

Wide eyes with fear.

The parents wrapped their warm arms

around their youngest son.

They were now the guardians

protecting him

from the clenches of the old regime.

As their own lives hung between the two borders

of peril and peace.

Above, their oldest son

without armor

crouched in shadows

and behind barricades.

Holding a gun

and a Molotov cocktail.

Coming of age in the collision

of the old and new worlds.

Old men, clinging to the power of the past

while young people create new stories

of dragons already slain

where tigers are kittens

and children lay safe in their beds.

If they could just get through this darkest of nights.


I was driving through Sacramento listening to a story on NPR about the war in Ukraine. They interviewed two Ukrainian parents about hiding in their basement each night, with their four-year-old,. They talked about the fear of staying in their city and the fear of trying to leave.

The years as a paramedic, seeing human tragedy on the streets, have created calluses on my mind, that oddly, protect me. As a life saver, my job was to create order out of chaos and make the best of someone's really bad day. I didn’t have to think, I had to do.

As I drove, through the city with its many Ukrainian immigrants, I was numb to the news reports of another war. Of history repeating itself over and over, even as we strive to reach for something better.

It wasn’t until I returned home and was attending my writing group, that my mind flashed to what I had been listening to earlier. The first writing prompt was “write a children’s story.”

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