Henry Jones

OLD WOUNDS, NEW WOUNDS

The Russian bombs exploded outside
making my windows wildly rattle
like angry wind chimes in a windstorm
glass shattered and fell onto the floor
I jumped under the kitchen table
holding onto its legs like a frightened child
grasping tightly around mother’s calves
instead I was alone as black smoke
drifted inside covering me with ash
I coughed out the smell of burned rubber
and imagined my mother’s hairy bird legs
those legs ran fast when we were frightened
she’d lift me up, hold me closely and run
as I felt her warm breath in my face
her heels stomped faces of cobblestone
while looking for a place for us to hide
this is why now I dove to hide and wait
remembering the smell of her perfume
covered my face resting in her lap
reminding me of the colorful wild flowers
growing along Lake Yalpuh’s shore
where I played and felt safe with her
I could feel her strong arm holding me
preventing me from being washed away
now instead I smell the pungent aroma
of burnt rubber, flesh and wood
and hear distant cries echoing outside
Ukraine doesn’t feel safe without her
the child is gone and mother’s dead
I’m alone an old man in war
holding these mahogany table legs
Death’s cold tibia bones for security
like a frightened child looking
for reassuring eyes which say
everything’s going to be fine
then I’d smile believing those words
take a deep breath and sleep all night
my childish eyes peep framed in wrinkles
visions of nights turned into nightmares
fear turned me cold and into shock
then I heard people calling out
the explosions stopped finally
my dry lips found spit to whisper
and then a hoarse shout
I’m alive. Save me!
then able to shout louder
I’m alive in here!
I’m alive. Save me!
and kept shouting holding
those legs of my mother
that’s all I could do
with my stiff arthritic fingers
waiting for them to find me
as my tears flowed down my face
in the etched memories of other wars.

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Henry L. Jones,  poet, artist, playwright, performance artist and artist, creates words and images to help people heal. Published widely, his poems inspired collaborative dances, films, artwork and plays backed by major grants such NEA and corporate sponsors.  He’s a co-editor of the anthology SINEW (April Gloaming Publishing), an Art Wire Fellow and Converge Poet. His books are Tell Me No Lies, Run into Blackness: Feeling My Poetic Gumbo(Pneuma Publishing Int., 2010) and Black Skillet Blues: Poetry without Cornbread(Beatlick Press, 2022 release).