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Maria Jul 2
On my last day of solo travel
I made the split decision to take stairs down
A random, haphazard side street.
I sat down at a cocktail bar
All by myself.
The only patron in this basement.

I was greeted with a smile
Missing one tooth
In the dark room
Asked what liquors I preferred
There is no menu
I listed off what I had tried and what I wanted to
She would sip a bit of the drink
Pipette on my outstretched hand
So I could give my input
As we constructed the flavors together
Laughing, eagerly offering and accepting my
suggestions of what the drink needed
Childlike wonder, curiosity, and play.

We experimented with absinthe
And amaretto, cherry, lavender, banana, sake, gin
pickled *****, coconut *** and umami bitters
She made me my first tiramisu martini.
A total of 5 cocktails in 5 hours spent together.

Lightly
I asked her why she moved to Prague -
Darkly
She said the single word “war”
She had to leave Kyiv or risk dying there.
She said she is so broke that she buys cheaper shoes that don’t fit and pads them with paper towels but still gets blisters.
She lives in a one bedroom with her mother.
Men started groping her on the train as early as nine.
She sincerely wishes her uncle would die.
She has made no friends in this city since she moved a year ago.
She has gotten fired before for being unlikeable and standing up for herself.
She painted the cocktail bar walls sage green after hours for free because the manager could not afford hiring a painter and she genuinely likes this job.
She is a polyglot: knows French, German, Ukrainian, Russian and English.
She’s vegan but she tries the fish-based bitters and egg whites for work every night and likes their taste.
She has not been to a doctor in years because she cannot afford it.
She has overdue medical bills racking up interest she worries about.
She got fined once for having an expired train ticket - now she always checks the expiration when she rides and has a valid ticket.
She points out, in her embroidered dress and matching embroidered jacket, that there’s cigarette holes from the ash the wind blew that she doesn’t have time to mend.
She has a college degree and a virtual master’s degree.
She thinks she’s old at 31.
She doesn’t trust men anymore.
She thinks that she’ll never get married or have children, even though she really wanted to when she was a little girl.
She was eager to smoke a cigarette outside when I needed to use the restroom.
She never let my water glass get empty.
She doesn’t know how she’ll make ends meet next month.
She asserts that life is unfair but that these are the cards she’s been dealt and they’ve made her stronger.

She thanked me as I left and told me that the conversation we had made her evening better
It was the most freeing feeling she had felt in months.
Being able to share and lighten the load of what she has been carrying alone made her emotional.
She says typically tourists and locals won’t ask or listen.
She feels othered by both.

We agree with tears in our eyes that we don’t even know each other’s names:
Margarita
Maria
We laugh, our names are so similar.
Heroes wear all kinds of uniforms,
and call many places home,
but standing the line for Democracy
they are all just as tall and just as brave

Who was this man
who ventured to a distant land
to defend it from an invader
they are not his people
this was not his home
but he stood the line for Democracy
he stood the line proud and tall
and died

He was my Brother
He was my Father
He was my Friend
He was a good man
He stood the line for Democracy
The Japanese Shuto Fukuyama, who had been serving in Ukraine as a Volunteer succumbed on the Battlefield.
Honor, Glory and Gratitude To Our Brother.
Abunde Oct 2023
Outraged by indifference,
On the streets, neighbors once friendly Now stand in opposing lines. Propaganda posters cover the walls, Spreading fear and dividing minds. Ukraine or Russia, Isreal or Palestine. Capitalism or communism the greediness and division funding all wars

In countries once united and with the hope of, now torn apart.  Hopes and dreams dashed, shattered like glass.  The future once bright, now a dark unknown.  How can we navigate our way into a peaceful world

Blue and yellow flags, now stained with blood. A nation once united, now torn asunder.  The echoes of shelling, ringing in their ears.  The land of golden wheat, now a barren wasteland.

So the streets are filled with chaos and fear,  And the violence rages on without cease. Bombs and bullets tear through the night,  and civilians cower in their homes, bereft of peace. The loss of life and suffering is great, And the scars of war run deep and true. The conflict rages on without end,  And hope seems hard to hold onto.

A home, once a dream of safety. Now a battlefield, a place of terror. The faces of loved ones, now distant memories. hearts, once full of hope. Now shattered and broken.

Amidst the chaos and despair, we search for a light. The occurring wars, the reasons to unite, for a glimmer of hope is a reason to go on.  So they cling onto the small moments of joy,  like the laughter of a child, or a flower in bloom. In the darkest of times, they try to find strength in the small things.

Though the scars of war may run deep, the world can still heal. We can still choose love, choose forgiveness.  We can choose to build a better tomorrow, Where peace reigns and hope abounds.  May we never forget the lessons of war, and may we always strive for a brighter future.

May we learn to forgive those who have wronged us,  and work to heal the divisions in our society.  May we reach out to those in need,  and work to create a more just and equitable world.  May we never lose sight of the beauty of life, as we hold fast to the belief that a better tomorrow is for us
This was inspired by social media updates on the wars currently taking place in the countries Ukraine and Israel. The purpose of this poem is to shine a light on the current conflicts in the world, while also emphasizing the need for peace and hope. The poem aims to explore the human cost of war, as well as the possibilities for reconciliation and healing.
dplynch Mar 2022
Mother pricked her index on a holly bush.

A trickle of blood succumbed to the crater, crossing the lines of her palm.

She sanctioned a frown.

On her hand now lay a staining scarlet winter berry.
Russia
Putin
Ukraine
Winter
War
Robert Ippaso Jul 2023
What did I do,
Quite the disaster, but if only they knew
The depth of the hole I find myself in,
Thank goodness ambition is no mortal sin.

I seriously thought this thing would be fast,
A simple invasion, a side show, a blast,
Over by dinner then pop the Champagne,
Ukraine by name only, Russia’s domain.

Never the thought came into my head
That a little B actor would play me instead,
Tenacious and cunning he's proven to be
But if chess is the game, good luck playing me.

The West struts its stuff, more noise than effect,
A mish mash of junk all easily wrecked,
Perhaps they forget the Russian resolve,
Stay tuned for a while and watch it evolve.

Ukraine is no match for what we can do,
Time our best friend and that's always been true,
We're patient and hardy, impervious to pain,
We'll suffer and bleed for what's ours to gain.

Don't read me wrong I want this to end,
I'm just very careful which message I send,
At the end of the day I'll make a tough deal,
And a big swath of land I'll invariably steal.

Ukraine won't be happy, the West will cry foul,
But don't be impressed, it's merely a howl,
A little play acting for show and effect,
As for this to continue they clearly all dread.

Ignore the odd glitches it's the outcome that counts,
This hasn't been pretty, a truth with few doubts,
But often what shines is merely fool’s gold,
Land is the key and Ukraine’s I will hold.
Anais Vionet May 2023
last winter break*

I woke up abruptly, my chest gripped and tight. My face felt hot but my arms stung as if frostbitten. I gasped for air that wouldn’t come, like I had a plastic bag over my head.

If I’d had a bad dream, in waking, it had become a collection of vague, menacing shadows, not memories.

I hadn’t had a panic attack in ages, but you never forget the feeling. I reached dizzily for my backpack, beside the bed, which contained an albuterol inhaler. I managed, between gasps, and a puff, to turn on a small bedside light.

It was an indecent hour but between jerky breaths, and a second puff, I performed the series of flicks and touches that initiated a FaceTime call. My brother Brice is in med-school at Johns Hopkins University. He studies a thousand hours a week, I doubt he actually sleeps at all.

Brice answered on the second ring, his gnarled, blonde, wheatfield of hair was unmistakable, even in the dim street light. One glance at me was all he needed. “Breathe,” he said, “just breathe,” his deep, warm voice was as reassuring now as it had been when I was a child.

He made a dismissive motion to whomever he was with, indicating he was leaving and they should go on. “Ok,” a guy said, “Sure.” A  girl's voice said, “tomorrow,” but those voices faded as they were left behind.

“Did you use your inhaler?” He asked, when I nodded yes, he began our old routine, “Alright,” he said, “name things you can see.”
“My.. phone,” I said, haltingly. A moment later I added, “my iPad,” I gasped, “my purse.”
“Oh, your favorite things,” he whispered and when I honked a coughing laugh he said, “sorry.”

After some brisk walking, on his end, I heard the distinct beep of an access-point card-reader.

“The sky,” I added. The sky looked dark, jam-like and starless from Lisa’s 50th floor windows but there was a blurry line of blinking lights - jets queued for landing at Newark Liberty, or Teterboro airports. Life was going to go on, it seemed, even if I couldn’t breathe.

“Uh huh,” he said, in affirmation. His camera went dark and I could tell he was climbing stairs.
My body wanted a full breath, or three and was in a full water-boarding like panic.

I continued with my herky-jerky naming, “my suitcase, a ceiling fan.” He was in his room now.

“Good,” he murmured. “Now focus on 4 things you can touch.” I slowly and purposefully touched my backpack, water bottle, phone and bedside table as Brice quietly watched and waited. I’d stopped hyperventilating and I could feel my eyes relaxing and the room coming into focus (a symptom of anxiety is tunnel vision).

Brice knows me, maybe better than anyone. We finish each other’s sentences, we’re steeped in intimacy and knowing. We watched each other silently for a minute or two as my breathing became normal. His stupid, brotherly face was reassuring. He seemed in no rush, and finally asked, “What brought this on?”

“I’m not sure,” I said, hesitantly, but I had my suspicions. I was on vacation, having a terrific  time with Lisa and her family, and I’d made the honor roll, so my anxiety wasn’t school related.

“Mom left me a Christmas message,” I began, “and there was an explosion in the background, I think. I played it over and over,” I said, frustratedly, “was it thunder - or something else? I played it for Lisa - over and over. She said she thought it was thunder, but Lisa’s not a good liar.”

Feelings are never simple, they're multilayered, strip some off the top and they’re others underneath. If my parents' (Doctors without Borders) Ukraine war work was the stressor, there was little we could do about it.

Brice reminded me that the background noise was equivocal - it could have been thunder - and since this panic was an isolated event, we decided to keep it to ourselves.

As the call wrapped up, he made me promise to stop playing that message and avoid war news. We agreed to stay in closer touch (knowing that, with our schedules, it probably wasn’t going to happen.)
Still, I like knowing he’s out there - like a rescue inhaler - just a few button clicks away.
nick armbrister May 2023
Cesspit
The **** shovelling soldiers are sent off to war
To dig latrines so their soldier brethren can ****
Not in peace but to empty their guts between fights
Ukrainians have other ideas they want to **** them all
Dead soldiers and ******* diggers means more Russians
Who can no longer fight or hurt innocent Ukrainians
How many Ivan cesspit ***** men have been eradicated?
**** them all so the soldiers **** their pants before dying
From Ukrainian bullets and high tech Allied weapons
The more the better in this video game war
Eventful War Book 2
Nick Armbrister and other writers
nick armbrister May 2023
Race 2
Same old **** going down
Graves of men now silent
Nowt much happening here
Just dead bodies buried
After being riddled blasted
Russians killed by Ukrainians
Prisoners mostly of Wagner
Sentences cut lives now cut
Politicians bathe in blood
They had quite a run
Still race in Part 2
Race 1 was a loss
No victory only death
Plus injuries and ruin
Battlefield injuries extreme
It's fine there's time
So much time here
Satan has all the time
In the world
Wait and see
Eventful War Book 2
Nick Armbrister and other writers
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