‘Blood in the Sky’: a poem by Alan Zhukovski

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    Blood in the Sky

 

A mortar attack hit a new condominium, built just a year ago,
mixing lost lives with debris, gnawed by merciless, rat-like flames.
A general ordered a small detachment to kill “a couple hundred civilians”
just to discredit his enemies’ army. By chaos and fear, he wanted
to postpone the impending defeat and to set local people against his adversaries.
The attack hit the tender bodies of clouds, scared by the cynical action below,
making them red and wet with blood and tears, and they started to drift
as a mass of torn tissues, dripping with bombs of despair and flooding
the hot steppe with their poisonous sunlight. The crime did not seem all that cynical
to its perpetrators. The value of life had been lost; their own survival
was hardly important to them. Their ideals still mattered, but they were crumbling.
The disintegration of ideology led to a dangerous series of transformations,
poor attempts to preserve the discredited worldview by new self-deception,
by new propaganda. Their country convinced them how cruel their enemies were.
When the soldiers arrived, they discovered no crimes, no atrocities, nothing.
The “defenders” could not believe it, and their expectation began to materialize
when the general fired at the town but sincerely believed that he hadn’t.
Old, rotten convictions defeated the obvious, real reality failed to defend itself.
 
My hands prepare to open my window.
They look at me in surprise
when they see the attack on the city,
injured buildings and streams of smoke,
scarlet skies, raining blood from the clouds.
I can hear the smug whispers of deaths,
and the air is congested with war,
with ten billion thoughts
of the people whose minds went astray.
 
The head of the painful sunset left
the soft and cozy bed of white steam
to enter the war and to sleep
in the bloody shadows.
 
There’s no way to wash off the blood.
There’s no way to wash off the lies,
staining the earth and the sky with the deadly news.

 
 

Alan Zhukovski

About Alan Zhukovski

Alan Zhukovski is a poet and translator. His work has appeared in The London Magazine, New Statesman, Ambit, Oxford Poetry, The Threepenny Review, Tin House, Agenda, Acumen, Plume, Gulf Coast, Asymptote, The Manchester Review, Orbis, Blackbird, The Fortnightly Review, and elsewhere.