On photographing Chernobyl

The Cyrillic words are still on the wall cursing the canvas of communist brick and behind are towering cranes, like antlers on faceless game, their rust is a tired oak.

The Cyrillic words are still on the wall
cursing the canvas of communist brick
and behind are towering cranes,
like antlers on faceless game, their
rust is a tired oak. The blocks
they’ve religiously raised are
now in careless solitude, their balconies
like misread obituaries in the pages
preceding the sports section.

An uneven row of trees break
the concrete among the metallic
sewer pipes and the frozen cars that
litter the lot, the cracked asphalt
is at a loss of words
each tree deprived
of a common language.

One block towers the rest,
I squint and feel the retinas stir
twenty-three stories of chalked stone
like a surreal work of art, the yellow venations
spread in and out of view haphazardly.

Wreckage and fallen pilasters are
the pupils of this theatre, they
insatiably gaze at Lenin’s hanged icons
in remembrance of the harsh Russian
words from the end of cigarettes
in the cold of 1986.

Vodka rations were given and
men loved less, so they
built a Farris wheel in the school yard.
From the window, a child looked
from his elusive Manifesto
to imagine how small Kiev
must look the day he’d sit atop the ellipse.
25 years later his bed is absentminded and
unmade. He didn’t know
it would never spin.
 
For days there was word on the street that
if a man climbed atop the erected
tower with a bag of sand in hand,
those two minutes spared two
years of shooting scum at the borders.
But instead, men and their children
rotted from the inside.

How quickly death comes to all who
gather around the unclean phallus.
Atoms hasten to break our bonds and
I am in awe.
This city wants to be.

 

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