K. V. Raghupathi
An Assault on Innocent Blood
There is more to hear about an assault on innocent blood.
Only gunshots, booms, blasts they hear over the cities,
missiles flying like rock fragments from the crater.
Where is the mellifluous human voice?
Where are the musical notes of the singing birds?
In the darkening cobalt sky yielding to the ruby flames on the ground,
They hear only the cries and shouts of men and women in subzero temperature
rushing like captive horses let loose from the cage,
flocking like cocks and hens the railway stations and bus stops panic-stricken
crossing the borders in thousands like the Masai Mara Migration.
What can a poet do except sing sadly
to the tuft of shots and falling blood?
Can a poem replace gunshots, booms, and blasts?
Can a dirge erase the scars of war from memory?
A war-torn country from blood and tears!
They came here like aliens on the command of a President for life
filled with nothing but hate, fear, and ambition
to claim the land as theirs.
A very proud young armed man from the neighboring land –
fighting on the cold lands with mortar on his shoulder.
He witnessed his comrades,
bleeding and dying like the shot birds,
meeting their end in Apocalypse.
Where is Russanso Avansky? He shouted amidst shelling,
his comrades spent hours searching in the darkening winter,
sleeping in holes and trenches dug in the snow laden land,
dreaming of returning to home in a foreign land.
Should the humanity suffer for one man’s single flaw?
His family is at home dreaming of his return,
the horror that he faces in an alien land,
he faces alone, like a mythical Greek soldier.
His mission is over, he thinks
but he is asked to stay back
until the butchered land surrenders.
One man’s ambition is another man’s poison.
Who is fighting for what and for whom?
They know they are for freedom to choose,
the other for freedom to occupy by force.
As I was sleeping through the silent night,
I woke up with a thud to the deafening thud outside.
At first, I mistook it for an accident
but soon I realized from the billowing smoke,
it was a missile that hit the sleeping city Kyiv
and I knew this would be my first fight
to keep my country safe and free from the unprovoked war.
And to do that, I will give every ounce of my boiling blood.
I am not a trained soldier.
But the spirit is splendid to defend to the very end.
But that comes at the cost of my life that I know I can’t mend.
There’s a little boy crossing the track holding the father’s hand
with a Ukraine flag in his hand.
He’s confused but excited; he doesn’t understand
why hundreds are thronging the platforms like the frightened antelopes.
He watches the grim face of his daddy and others.
He watches them board the train, already crowded
but doesn’t even fuss, playing with the flag
he doesn’t know where they are heading to.
He doesn’t know war is hell to yell at it.
His mother is glum, wondering about the grim future
he still plays with no space to stand and sit
as all other kids watch unmindful of bombs landing around
His mother kisses him, drawing close to her warm bosom
There’s a little boy standing in the crowd at a far end waving his hand
reciprocating the innocent joy
making others feel the moments proud and cheerful.
And the freedom they’re fighting against the horde
is for the triumph over the hate.
In the blistering cold winds blowing like a hurricane,
in the frightening desolated roads where the insane enemy forces are bulldozing,
and dripping blood from the bloody hands and legs seeping like sewage.
But God knows the truth, and the man knows the lie
of the hope of freeing the world from the scourge of war
too distant, like stars.
Hope in human war is like a survived kangaroo in the midst of bush fire.
Amidst persistent nightmares of cries and curses
screeching fervently, chapped, dry lips whispering a final prayer:
But the dead know neither victory nor defeat.
The dying know neither truth nor illusion
The living, anyway, know not how to suffer.
K. V. Raghupathi is a poet, critic, novelist, short story writer, and book reviewer. He has been writing since the 1980s and has published twelve collections of poetry. Raghupathi lives in Tirupati, India. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org