Ukraine and Crimea poems of 2014 revisited


“The passage of life should show; it should abrade. And when life stops, a certain space—however small— should be left scarred by the grand and damaging parade. Things shouldn’t be so hard.”
—an excerpt from Kay Ryan’s poem, Things Shouldn’t Be So Hard

As luck of the Irish would have it, a box of books and poems I thought lost to typhoons on Tinian arrived here on Saipan on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. It had been sent from Tinian to Las Vegas and arrived there after I left to return here in November 2021. Among the poems were four different types of poems I had written about Putin’s blitzkrieg annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol in March 2014. Ironically they were written eight years ago (I had dated them) during the same time frame now in March 2022 that Putin is making war in Ukraine. Readers may find that the similarities in Putin’s tactics are ironic and deliberate with the month and date of current hostilities.

Also interesting for purposes of inclusion here is that April is National Poetry Month and I wrote four different types of poems back then about Putin’s expansion of the Russian Empire. One of the poems is a villanelle, which is a French verse form consisting of five three-line stanzas and a final quatrain, with the first and third lines of the first stanza repeating alternately in the following stanzas. I have approximated the form here. Nothing has been changed or revised in the poems, their titles, and dates as I noted back then.

I have to in all honesty tell you I had completely forgotten writing this group of four poems. I’m also assuming due to the completion date of the last one that they might have appeared in the Saipan Tribune around this date during National Poetry Month in 2014. 

The coincidence, the timing, the similarities in historical fact is truly amazing. Let us hope and pray for cessation of the bombing, deaths, and the safety of Ukrainian people.

A Sister Country in Crisis
(a villanelle for Ukraine & Crimea, written between Feb. 14 to March 14, 2014)

A sister country in crisis
its neighbor giving it a shove
using military vices
borders cut up into slices
from the cold east and from above
a sister country in crisis
big bear heeds its own advices
little bear squeezed by iron glove
has no nuclear devices
Tatars rank lower on indices
now back in the country they love
a sister country in crisis
Putin plays chess, cool cat and mices
carefully plotting every move
using military vices
eagle opens its orifice
and offers up a peaceful dove
neighboring countries feel crisis
money lost in trade crevices.

Haiku for Ukraine and Crimea
(March 21, 2014)

been through this before
mother bear shuts the door
Tatars home at last
Ukrainian cold spring
raining down in Crimea
Europe twitches
a river of realistic fears
ballistic ethnic fears
Crimean linguistics

A Limerick for Ukraine/Crimea

ex KGB boss Vladimir Putin
had a mouth he seldom put his foot in
he moved on the Crimea quite quickly
now the Ukraine is feeling quite sickly
so far at least no shootin.

A Sonnet for Sevastopol and Crimea
(written March 31, 2014)

Thousands of protesters out in the spring rain
Massed in a city square call out for democracy
In Kiev, the capitol of Ukraine, they all long
To join the European Union and be more free
Their motives – economic mobility – quite noble
After months of protest they get rid of a corrupt boss
Knowing not of coming events in the port of Sevastopol
The entire Crimean peninsula would become a total loss
Putin felt oustering the boss made push comes to shove
And made a checkmate move from his KGB master book
He slipped a classic Communist iron fist into a glove
Annexing the entire Crimea was the chess move he took
Now Russian troops mass on Ukraine’s eastern border
As Putin moves his knights and puts all his pawns in order.

Joey ‘Pepe Batbon’ Connolly (Special to the Saipan Tribune)
Joey aka Pepe Batbon is a retired educator who taught in the CNMI, NOLA, and LVNV. He is a sonnet practitioner who enjoys stargazing.

Joey 'Pepe Batbon' Connolly (Special to the Saipan Tribune)

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