We fire we snipe we stand quietly in swamps.
Dark skies blue skies we whistle we roll cigarettes.
And lie flung against ruins our innards steaming.
We, who are involuntarily enlisted.
We, who are on active service a lifetime.
Notes on this poem
Having read a selection of Russian and Ukrainian poems from Modern Poetry in Translation (No. 3, 2017), I thought I might write a poem sparked by Timur Kibirov’s ‘Hurriedly, in Premature Celebration…’, especially as I was reading some Russian folk tales re-told by Ruth Manning-Sanders in a book called A Book of Kings and Queens. However, a poem has its own intentions and this is what resulted. Conflict suffuses this text, as it does the MPT edition of Russian and Ukrainian poetry; my readings have influenced this poem. Although it uses military imagery to describe conflict, its primary concern is not the conflict of direct military engagement.