Philip C. Kolin

Ashes for Kiev

City of bodies buried without monuments,
you saw the dead of Babi Yar layered
faceless fifteen meters down one atop the other.
Still the land could not hold their ghosts.
The air above gasped, and the sky stretched
to hold the ashes and smoke. The memory
of these souls lies recorded in your dust.

Chernobyl’s holocaust also brought blistering death.
The victims’ faces glowed like fiery lichens;
their lungs were like bellows; and marrow
leached from their bones; clouds filled
with ashes; sunflowers have grown dark.

Putin is now forcing you to dig ravines again
crammed with nameless children and womb-
bombed mothers; hospitals and high rise apartments
are turning into furnaces; residents into fatalities.
Their blood is melting the snow as the smoke
incenses the smothering air. The sirens never stop.



Philip C. Kolin is the Distinguished Professor of English and Emeritus Editor of the Southern Quarterly at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has published 12 books of poetry including Emmett Till in Different States, Reaching Forever, and Americorona: Poems about the Pandemic. He has also coedited anthologies of poems about  the Mississippi River, Katrina, and the moon.