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Three Poems from the Ukraine [by Slava Konoval]

Slava KonovalThe Ukrainian poet Vyacheslav ("Slava") Konoval sent us these three poems for publication. A member of the Geer Poetry Group (Wales) and a member of the Federation of Scottish Writers, Slava lives in Kyiv and is determined to weather the Russian military storm. He tells me he has devoted much energy to address "acute social problems, such as overcoming poverty, ecology issues, the relationship of people with the government." I mean to ask him whether he wrote these three poems in English or translated them. Do they not read like translations? On the theory that there is a certain charm in poetry as a second language, and in respect of the embattled nation for whom Konoval would speak, I present them here even before I find out more.

Now I have found out more:

<<< Yea, I am writing in English to promote my compatriots and show the thick skin of the Ukranian soul.
Translation of anything cannot guarantee the precisely, especially in art activity, so I do original form writing in non-my native language.
Yea, I live in Kyiv and haven't leave my city from time of the overwhelming Russian invasion till nowadays. >>>

Dont be a freak

I can’t be a freak,
I can’t play it,
I have nothing to speak.
From thought about it
I want only to spit.

I’m not a freak,
I haven’t millions on account,
I’m not strong as beek,
which stands firmly on the ground or on the mount.

I was brought up with my mother’s milk,
it is precious like silk,
hey, artificial behavior is bilk.

Richard’s Castle

On the sprawling mountain of Usypalnytsia,
the neo-Gothic wind built
a castle for the Lion Heart,
below St. Andrew's Church.
The castle's a marvel of art!

An unknown architect
loved the pages of Walter Scott,
having built pointed Spires,
laid his heart.

Moody mountain, sharp descent,
she let the towers in
through philanthropic help, maybe cent,
neither royal funds, no sin.

The royal castle shines,
in yellow colors,
in the graceful contours and lines.

Night Singer

Where missile strikes hit,
where the borders with Belarus are close,
I am asking for Your consent, please, permit
to tell about the Ukrainian company,
I honor her, raise a glass, and toast.

In days of turmoil, in stormy days,
IKOC like a weapon took a thread and a needle,
IKOC has will, courage and actions,
not empty phrases.

Weavers, mechanics, accountants,
they are bees, buzzing in workshops,
IKOC flaunts its image and patents
sewn shoes and uniforms for the military,
sketches in laptops.

With style, taste, and quality
IKOC cares about defenders,
who grind the enemy in a meat grinder,
and like blenders.

May the company prosper
that IKOC had a pre-war profit,
an investor is waiting for him in line, a sponsor.

Ed: Re "Night Singer": Diligent Internet searches of IKOC turn up many a cul de sac. Other poems of his are posted here. Other of Slava's Engish-language poems, such as "Painful condition," can be found here.

Painful condition

Once on Thursday, I woke up weak,
having been covered with a warm quilt,
with a merciless temperature,
I am dying, and I am bleak.
Like a pendulum,
hearing the run of strikes in the clock’s click.
Laying in bed, I had exhausted from the undead,
I am similar to a sickly chick.
Contemplate on the white pills,
that had become the color of capitulation.
Please, God, stop all human ills,
overcome the pains, and be a healthy nation.

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September 22, 2022

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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