“One Year Later” by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach


It’s easy to look away from war
when your wallet’s empty and sink is full,
when the land and people aren’t yours,
when your children scream for more
of you, when your body’s pulled,
it’s easy to look away from war.
The soil across the water to earth’s core
brims blood, but look, the sunflowers still bloom
when the land and people aren’t yours.
So, you focus on the daily chores,
dig out a trench of laundry—linens, wools—
it’s easy to look away from war
with the dog barking, mailman at the door.
Your children speak a stranger’s tongue at school,
the land and people aren’t yours.
How does a house become a shore
no news can reach? Are we that cruel?
Or is it just that easy to look away from war
when the land and people aren’t yours?

from Poets Respond
February 26, 2023


Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach: “It’s the week of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Today, Feb 21st, is exactly a year since Putin’s heinous speech foreshadowed the invasion with his perversion of history, staking claim to a sovereign nation and people. It’s a year since I coped with the inevitability of this war by transforming his speech into an erasure published here too. The war in my birthplace has continued to be a daily reality of my life, just as it has for most of those in the Ukrainian diaspora. But for many other Americans, this war has moved into the periphery or completely out of view. According to recent polls, a little less than half of Americans support continued military aid, with a third outright against it, and the rest apathetic to US involvement. Inspired by Jehanne Dubrow’s masterful villanelle ‘Civilian,’ from her forthcoming book Civilians, I was moved to write one too. The refrains bouncing and echoing in my head until I got them down on paper. This poem is a plea for continued US—as well as global—support and vigilance. For a refusal to look away from war. For action. And if you are able, please consider contributing to an aid organization that helps those who are in Ukraine and refugees trying to flee. I recommend Ukraine TrustChain. An all volunteer-run nonprofit started by Ukrainian immigrants in the US, they work with local volunteers on the ground, going directly into areas hard to reach by larger international organizations. TrustChain provides urgent food, medical supplies, and transportation to safer regions.” (web)

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