Two Poems by Nicole Yurcaba

Ode to a US Army Special Forces Soldier Educating Me about My Homeland’s Literature

Tell me again how you want to fight
Zabuzhko’s sentences into philosophies
bound by proper punctuation. You don’t know
what it is like spending your life lost
in translation, how one language wrestles
a second or third face-down into mud
& forces it to swallow handful after handful–
dirt, grass, gravel, piss, shit, & blood
until you no longer remember
how to say bird or sky or death,
so you could wake up one day to learn
your pregnant cousin who stayed behind
in your family’s homeland burned alive
in a car bombed by occupiers who clip
phone wires & mail them home believing
the internet’s entirety exists within. Tell me
again my homeland’s history, how our nation’s
bard lived in exile, how when my family escaped
we had no home yet home is a mosaic
6,000 miles from where I stand, squinting
in wonder that you think Lemko
is merely a former team mate’s surname.


Ode to Drinking at QXT’s in Newark with Franz Kafka

A friend advises I stay wary
of the Existentialists. He knows
damn well I am in too deep
with Kafka, who sits beside
me on a Saturday night,
sipping a cosmopolitan.
Franz, I say. We were born
beautifully dead inside.
Kafka weighs our insignificance
in his right hand.
Your heart weighs an ounce
too little, Franz says. You
are awarded the precipice’s edge.
The DJ spins Blutengel’s
“Forever Young.” My phone
Buzzes–a message from my friend:
Nikola, I wish you didn’t think
of yourself as other. Kafka’s drink
trembles in his hand. He leans
into me, his lips hot on my ear.
His finger’s cold sinks through
my fishnets. We spend too much
time together, Franz states.
Another night, and I may not
be able to keep myself
from pushing you. I take
Kafka’s hand, lead him
to the dancefloor, place his hands
on my chest. His fingers
tap      tap      tap     
the bass rhythm
the policy of truth
known only by the darkness
thrumming beneath my bodice’s ties.


Nicole Yurcaba (Ukrainian: Нікола Юрцаба–Nikola Yurtsaba) is a Ukrainian American poet and essayist. Her poems and essays have appeared in The Atlanta Review, The Lindenwood Review, Whiskey Island, Raven Chronicles, West Trade Review, Appalachian Heritage, North of Oxford, and many other online and print journals. Nicole holds an MFA in Writing from Lindenwood University. Nicole teaches poetry workshops for Southern New Hampshire University and is a guest book reviewer for Sage Cigarettes, Tupelo Quarterly, Colorado Review, and The Southern Review of Books.

Dust of Snow by Laura Foley

Dust of Snow

I thought I was done
mourning war
learning to savor

a faceful of snow
from the shaken pine
without remembering

the water dripped
on my father’s head
his torture into a coma

surviving four years
in Japanese prison
to become my father

in the same war Stefan
escaped on skis
from Poland

across the Tatras into Lithuania
and then Russia
and became my husband

now long since gone
this dawn after snow
as the new war invades my mind

and sun lights a thin white line
rising from the chimney
of a peaceable slate gray house

where I live with my wife
on a wooded hill
but see the smoke

of bombed buildings
barely noticing how snow
dusts from the arms of a pine

drifts like a beautiful ghost
or an angel I wish
I could send to Ukraine.


Laura Foley is the author of eight poetry collections. Everything We Need: Poems from El Camino was released, in winter 2022. Her poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, One Art Poetry, Poetry Society London, Crannog Magazine (Ireland), DMQ Review, Atlanta Review, Mason Street, JAMA, and many others. Her work has been included in many anthologies such as: Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection, and How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope. Laura lives with her wife, Clara Gimenez, among the hills of Vermont.

Tenderness by Yuliya Musakovska


The sun kisses my face. I want so much to save
at least a sip of this height, so blue, for later.
The animal song of reddened leaves,
a swirl of wild grapevines, exploding from roofs.
We seem unperishable as if no one after us
will divide a yellow pear in half as in communion,
will forgive one another while hugging the whole world,
not allowing petals to fall from numb blossoms.
A movement of a green dragonfly’s wings,
a tremble of eyelashes,
a children’s toy, abandoned in the grass,
a flock of honey mushrooms that hatched around stumps.
This emergence is witness to a new day coming.
How long should we pull before realizing—the cord is strong?
Tenderness, a rope that keeps us from falling out of the boat.
You hold so many treasures in your hands, my love.
We have no time for disbelief, and no right to it.

Translated from Ukrainian by Olena Jennings and the author

Yuliya Musakovska is the award-winning author of five poetry collections in Ukrainian, The God of Freedom (2021), Men, Women and Children (2015), Hunting the Silence (2014), Masks (2011), and Exhaling, Inhaling (2010). Her poems have been translated into over twenty languages. Recent works appeared in AGNI, The Apofenie Magazine, Life and Legends, The Springhouse Journal, and Red Letters. She lives in Lviv, Ukraine.

Olena Jennings is the author of the poetry collection Songs from an Apartment (2017) and the chapbook Memory Project (2018.) Her novel Temporary Shelter was released in 2021 from Cervena Barva Press. Her translation from Ukrainian of Vasyl Makhno’s collection Paper Bridge is forthcoming from Plamen Press. She is the founder and curator of the Poets of Queens reading series.