News reporters have logged a lot of stories about native Ukrainians returning to their homeland, or home towns, to defend their country against Vladimir Putin’s invasion. One of the most moving to me is that of ballet dancers who packed their leotards away and began learning how to shoot guns and make Molotov cocktails.
The dancers reminded me of fellow open mic poets following 9/11. With pens and notebook pads (paper, not digital) tucked in their luggage and pockets, they headed off to do battle in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I was, at first, deeply disturbed to see certain poets enlist. Eloquence would not shield them from bullets, chemical weapons, or missile attacks. Then I recalled those wordsmiths who already had served in different military capacities during times of conflict. (I was also encouraged to consider my own military instructions when I received training in one specialty for peacetime duties and in another for warfare.) Holiday Letter for a Poet Gone to War was written to acknowledge my friends’ continuation of that specific literary legacy. A quote from the last two lines has become fairly popular.
An Extraordinary Contrast
Watching now from a distance as Ukrainians do all they can to fend off the Russian president’s murderous unprovoked attack on Ukraine, I am certain there are poets and creative souls of different disciplines among them. Indeed, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s creative gifts were celebrated before began and have become more so since then, presenting an extraordinary contrast between perceptions of his basic character that of his adversarial counterpart. Yet, where Russian soldiers themselves are concerned, poets also undoubtedly march, fight, and write among them as they do among Ukraine’s troops.
The poem below is followed by a YouTube video of Jon Lucien’s (1942-2007) The War Song. It is for all those across the globe who believe mostly in spending their time creating beauty to inspire humanity but who now are forced to engage in one of history’s most tragic markers: war
Contemporary award-winning American author of classically-styled works in history, poetry, creative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and journalism.