Gulag, war, Auschwitz,
and Nakba
were dead ahead.

Tuxedoed nabobs strutted everywhere,
while workers and field hands like Lyuda
or Fannie Lou’s dad cringed and scrimped
beside the Dnipro, Mississippi,
Ganges, Nile, Thames, Orinoco, and Rhine.

Ivan Korobchuk died when he fell asleep
in his fourteenth hour of work
at a steel mill in Donbas
on the same day his sister Lyuda succumbed
foodless on the family farm near Krivih Rih.
Fifteen years before, Ivan and Lyuda’s mom had partied
as the peasants of their village
seized the land and their ideas ruled their oblast.

Nazis stormed stores on Kristallnacht. My relatives
like the wheat fields of China
beneath approaching tanks.
Gunshots sparked the lightless nights like shattered crystal.

Italian soldiers chortled as they ravaged villages,
while gun smoke night-timed the sunset sky
and hid the blood red lakes of Abyssinia.

Why does this seem so familiar
as two-oh-two-three turns to twenty-four?

And why do they seem so penny ante
those horrors that went before?