DANILO BILYK, SIXTEEN, JOINS THE UKRAINIAN ARMY BY ROBERT COOPERMAN
I was raised by my older sister, Sofia,
after Mama and Papa passed: their memories
a blessing, as much as I can recall of them.
But Sofia scolded when I locked my grief away
with playing video games: blasting space aliens.
That skill came in handy when I signed up.
After the first day of training, the sergeant’s jaw
gaped wide as a yawning hippo’s,
for I hit the bull’s-eye every single time.
Now, I’m a sniper, dropping enemy soldiers
like bloody sacks, the guys in my unit
calling me, “Little Danny Sure-Shot,”
after the American markswoman.
It’s all still a video game to me,
no idea what it’s like to kill at close quarters,
and I don’t want to find out, but this is what
I was meant to do, hoping my superiors
will assign me to take out Mr. Bare Chest.
Even if he’s more closely guarded
than England’s Crown Jewels, I’ll get him,
like they do with clever plans, in the movies,
to end this war, all the pretty girls swooning,
though I’m supposed to be a secret weapon now,
my unit leader tells me, for my own safety.