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fireflies surrounded bryce last night. lit up around him as though a holy figure.
st. anthony, st. jude.

a monday.

thought about that instance in early october — lies surrounded my head. a sick halo. 

sick halo. 


glow in caliginosity, swerving, opaque. drive the grid back. again.
city caresses my sweaty face through the highway wind. musky tenderness. 

fireworks blew up. next to east village, ukrainian part of the city. historically ukrainian — only to hear 


fireworks.  only to hear fireworks. only to hear fireworks, like bombs, explosions in the air, explosions in the sky. 



retrace each part of the street. each part of the city walked upon.
the change not amiss. hot heat hot heat, heat in the city. heat of the city. heart is the city.
thoroughly walk the sidewalk. retrace each step. fit the mold of yesterday.




listen, there is no return. the city changes. lilies bloom. potholes form.
cracks in the foundation. 




little grassses wax in gust. shudder ever so slightly. 



lambent beneath forsaken street lamps. 




redolent of kelp twisting,
traffic streams along the schuylkill river mid july. reflective atonements in the crude waters.
a river a river. 





philadelphia is like that — open and burning. 


shadows upon my countenance. a body walks behind.
a body heaves possessions onto the trolley late. he owns a folded cart, a black plastic bag, another garbage bag upon a crate. a la carte. 


i wanted to run away. i tried to turn my back on him. i tried to return


i try to remember the last summer in olympia. when winds changed. gardens blossomed, and love fell apart noteworthy. wake up at dusk, walk up the hill. feverfew continued to grow.
yellow eyelets surrounded by an aureole of white petals — pungent. 

morning quivered. 




a proving to oneself. i am not a container. i am not a vessel. i am certainly not a jar. my door is ajar. where breezes spring in. sneak into the distant corner from the corridor of touch, corridor of the communal apartment. soul overturned. monologues in my head. i hope to look back on this time in philadelphia as a circling back, a circling around. where everything i loved and cherished found itself anew. 






something atmospheric breaks through among the sleeping factories of twentieth century translucence and mediocrity.
utopic reveries. 

straining ray cuts the carbon sky pounding.
carbon sky. 





abandoned car, spray painted. train tracks idling by — teenager laughs inside.
at least smiles – i cannot hear the sound emitted from his esophagus on this whizzing train. 

all is slow motion in its speed. 




vines claw against the wall of time.

ecstasy in growth. 

folding folding.
folding folding folding folding
maggie nelson calls this tide of minutes passing, thick. 



open lots in between brick bodies. toothless grin. 

my grandfather knew the streets and back alleys of kyiv, walking through tiny tunnels, small openings in housing blocs.






within the intrusions of our life

embedding unregulated deviations of someplace      unreachable and undisturbed,
enlightening myself with all the raucous longings. 



appearing again without mistake,

stalling, staling… staling…





reconstruct, reconsider what home feels like — midsummer.  a fluttering of a white curtain in an evening breeze smelling butterfly bush (lush).             garbage wafts in. 






slick city

butterfly bush and garbage rummaging. 






whose body is a lover

a body. whose death. swimming in the river tomorrow.







maybe, poets, we are deeply disturbed this information wouldn’t make itself available otherwise.


ivy winds upon our limbs, digressing form, controlled situation.
wraps around flesh, bone, construction of body.
what is covered becomes ashen.
gray and tarnished.
skin without nutrients, sun petrifies
the body, ivy, unmanaged. 









the family was new, standing amidst the graves and the deceased, amongst, who, just like the great grandmother we visited, lived through the barbarity of war — had heard of the fat man, of the little boy. and, too, supplied the troops of soviets, moved further. east into the mountains, the ragged valleys. they, too, bore medals in the shape of bones, the shape of multicolored flags, triple tiered, round metal tangling off a ribbon.






— ukraine, russia, india— a small demarcation of america(s). the united states. what has been produced uncontrollable — units of people to come together embracing differences. the family is never perfect; doing so without knowledge of a past

a deliberation of how to be new — 

an american disease — imbued with a value of novelty.


we discover that empire, which had seemed to us the sum of all wonder, is an endless, formless ruin.²










complacency is contingent on survival
competitiveness is contingent on survival
cyclically, everything is the same.
cyclically, everything stays in the graveyard.
cyclically, everything begins as a cemetery.
in the sepulcher gravity lightens. hardens. mollifies. 










a bust is tied at the root of my torso. where home used to be. home is dangerous, writes solmaz
sharif. induction of origin begins to be divisive. we are all derivative and small. growing out of each other’s scales. out of reach — of remains,
earth, plank, dirt.
rigid trails. 

the knot is at the bottom of my torso was once a root. was once what bellowed and swung. i once cried mother russia. i once bawled over the holocaust of the ukrainian people. i once helped selfish men. i once was selfish. i once gave up my agency to love. i once risked everything.
this wasn’t a resolution. i stayed. managing personal attacks.
see you in the next life.







i am not a ukrainian flag;











the bust of the bottom of my torso is root upended. 






i was born of war.
1990: this war was cold.
1995: russia and chechen rebels newscasted. 

with a frail great grandmother by my side i watched.  an aloe grew on the windowsill. she died in that room. 

a family sits in a basement.






succumbing to crowdness.
succumbing to cowardice.
cowardice wasn’t on the train today.

cowardice was an accessory made permanent some years later, altering.  






a year isn’t a timescale; a year is a dump.






on the train i am reminded of bodies; the tacitness of flesh plastered together in the morning. when i arrived to philadelphia nobody rode public transit — fear scattered, cigarettes coating the surface of the train car. 







my admiration skips. rocks on the surface of water. 












what will the subway smell like after occupation?












for beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror
which we are barely able to endure, and it amazes me so,
because its serenity disdains to destroy us.
every angel is terrible.³



generosity falters as all else releases like a candy firework resembling explosions— a burning in the evening.
celebrations turn corrosive.

repetitious, synonymous, understated.



my tongue is tied, disabled memory tarnished short lived fragmentation, frequencies of language
make their way into the spectra of casualties. 





sieve of ancient pathologies. 



the river returns to its original embarkment. not out of punishment — a flood of memories


standing around the dead.                                        to create something.

it’s the end of june after all. 

narrow, hot streets untethered from the day. unbound.
stillness before dawn
lacking horizon.


morning will begin. creep up. crawl out.



alex and i smoke silently. 

all has already been spoken.
the night carried us to the porch. 






ended up at the lecherous bar.  again. another century awry — discovering nicks in the systems of blocks and stone monoliths. the stone ledge, where some might be temped to jump. jumping would truncate survival, the continuity of life. continuity of matters.





a chiseling away at dead stone. inuring into faces. here we are in the bar. alex and i.
here we are laughing at sorrow. cataplectic. 

here we are in the starlight of tragedy.                    strategy. 


here we are silent. 

a change, a line in the sand. something in the air. swift exchange, relational endeavor. feel the shifting of the tectonic plates, the shifting of steps from a to b. a to b. 



i do not condone progress.








all forgoes. forecloses upon a memory bank, a cellar locked back up again for the winter, leaving the small wooden houses unaccompanied through the cold. letting wine age in the dark dampness of clay and foundation. the hermit wisens up with age, and so do we. as we navigate something aging within our hearts. 








i am expected to walk around and cry.
stream tears.
“ my country!”

these words flow like horrible, blue waters.

while matter.



a monument in a body bag. a city flattened. 








broke a fever



\\ broke a spell.


in the might of time

dusk of youth. 

stringent days unyielding.

insomniac, not a title i would have deemed—
yet, here i am. wavering, waking up pre-dawn.               crepuscular, 

shielding eyes —
the retinas musn’t burn
musn’t resemble the old country.  

how can this stay in the ocular?

beneath .
in the back, grasping for requisite opulence.
grasping to the forefront of history. 

desire to change history into another word —            encircling forebears








buds turned leaves, green and ravishing
piecing together the quest for summer mornings. 


two hundred gun wounds during memorial day weekend.
my mother called to ask how all is, 

how i am. 

i am alive. i know because heat, these efficacious yearnings.
lingering through heart, wounds. not open anymore. cauterized.
present and sleeping. 


yesterday finally settled on the dirt walked upon,
the dirt thoroughly clumped onto, breasts and bottom of tired feet.
regressive feet.
tremendous feats.

i am living my life again.  i told myself. 


i told myself a lie yesterday. 

the trick of the matter is simple — return to faith




simply and thoroughly and lavishly. 

i have arrived. returned. 


1. Christina Rivera Garzs
2. Italo Calvino

3. Rilke
4. Anne Carson


Born in Kyiv, olga  works in the (intersectional/textual) liminal space of photography, word, translation, and installation. She is interested in memory, dream spaces, absences, concrete, inheritance, (dis)place, and the construction of language. She cofounded and co-curated Desuetude Press, and is getting her MFA in creative writing at UCSD. Her debut chapbook cities as fathers is out with Tilted House, and other works can be found, or are forthcoming in the Tiny Mag, LitHub, Cleveland Review of Books, and elsewhere.