Kievan Rus’

Smiles here are not so easy to extract.
Eyes here are not so easy to read.
Truth here is not so easy to find.

Hypotheses, made and fulfilled
by those who dispense logical lies
to those who want to believe them.


Ziarkno Prawdy

Trees of falsehoods
are so plentiful here,
that their hallowed
trunks have all
but swallowed
any grain of truth
from which they


Words are spoken,
things are said,
but what thoughts
lie behind those
unreadable eyes-
what meanings
those words were
meant to relay-
are all but lost
in silent lies.



No love desperately given
is ever truly welcomed;

For desperate love only ever
begets distance in our lives,

impressing upon the recipient
the necessity of lies.



Light brown is more than that…

It’s sparks of auburn and

sunlight covered in birch

lashes and twinkling stars

that shine heaven and hell

all at once through tear drops

of happy and sad and greys…

Light brown is a complex thing,
when it’s beaming from your
eyes in a distant memory…




Walking in silence
along the Dnieper,
cars racing past
like they’ve got
somewhere exciting to go.

I can’t see what
can be found here that
would require such rush,
except to rush for rushing’s sake,
…to feel important.



What makes the heart of a city?

Is it the architecture?
Then this heart is a Soviet heart.

Is it the language?
Then this heart can’t decide.

Is it the street names?
Then this heart is a fickle one.

Is it a place or an idea?
Then this heart has many valves.

Is it the people?
Then this heart is tired.

Maybe it’s everything.



Looking around to orientate myself,
I wonder at how far I’ve come.
From palm trees and bright lights,
I’ve reached a void- a city trapped
in what can only be described as
a bubble where time stands still.



You came to me last
night in a dream
or apparition.

Did you always say such
wise things or did I
imagine it?

I look forward to seeing
you again in a puddle or
on window glass.



Madness is indescribable,
like trying to explain
what water tastes like.

It slips nimbly in and
out of membranes, a
sinister house guest.

Invisible, it eats
away the foundation,
like termites…

…which rob the home
of legs on which
to stand, madness

robs the mind of
thoughts on which
to rely…


There are people
who crowd country gates-
tall, wide conceptual things-
escaping from crueler,
realer things.


There are people
who play other people’s
insecure heart strings,
looking for an exit, to find a home,
to live their dreams.


There are people
who hide in plain site,
becoming you, becoming me,
hiding from those who’d take them back
to where they used to be.

…Then there are people
who demand their own exile,
clawing at gates they needn’t claw,
attempting to square the circles
of their identity.


Never underestimate
the cost of being

Never fail to understand
the price of knowing
you won’t be found

or that you won’t find
what your looking for,
a hearth, a home.

For nowhere on this
great big Earth will
you find more

than what you’re worth.



There are lines
that cut across
here and there.

Some acknowledge
them, the lines,
but others don’t.

Some pick
which side they
wish to stand on,

others don’t
really have
a choice.

And then there
are the less
fortunate ones,

the ones who stand
on top of the line,
dead center.

What to do
with those that
walk the beam?

FullSizeRender (1)


I saw an icicle today
as I walked down
a busy street.

Were that street
a path or a trail and
were you but beside me

…a warmer winter

this would be FullSizeRender-3


Square the circles.
Make independent
lines connect.

Put the branches
back on the tree.

Detangle veins of
blood’s beginning .



Life can be a cruel thing,
entangling fates that have
no business being entangled.

What naiveté convinced
them that two beings
of two worlds could

together be?



Sometimes the night
keeps me up,
it has something
to say to me.

I wonder then
as I struggle
with sheets that
strangle me

if the night
could but tell
me what it
wants to say

in a dream
deep in sleep
or simply
wait for day



I go and look at something
that reminds me
and I feel the sting.

I revel in
how much
it stings,

about as much
as I rebel
against it,

because if
it stops

that means
I will have

And forgetting
stings worse
I imagine…


Telefon, телефон

Pass the money down.
There’s change.

Pass the money down.
There’s change.

Pass the money down.
There’s change.

Grip the jackets of
those in front,

Stand firm for
those in back.

Pass back
the change.

Pass back
the change.

Pass back
the change.

Murmurs reverberate
across the Marshrutka.

Payments are made,
the driver makes shortcuts.

Ask him to
stop please.

Ask him to
stop please.

Ask him to
stop please.

Messages passed
back and forth.

Information exchanged-
a game of Telephone.

This seat’s
not free.

This seat’s
not free.

This seats
not free.

It’s a bit strange
to hear for me

because every seat
looks quite empty.

But around this
place you see

people work like
ant colonies,

passing words and
favors down the line

and ensuring each
is doing fine.


Pass the money down.
There’s change.

Pass back
the change.

Ask him to
stop please.

This seat’s
not free.

Don’t try to make it
on your own,

eventually you’ll
feel quite alone,

because life here is
just a game of telephone.

Independence Square, Kyiv

Independence Square, Kyiv



Sometimes, God will take things from you.
You don’t understand why.

You carry the loss around in your heart,
you keep the memories in your mind.

Each year, you commemorate the day,
the Lord took that special thing away.

But then one day, He sees you weep to much
and sends a sign, that you’ve suffered enough.

He sends you a glittering flash of light
to let you know that what he takes or gives

is to strengthen your soul- your resolve,
not a punishment to make you cry.

It’s important that you realize
He always rewards those good inside.

And that flash of light is for you to see,
that after dark, His light there will always be.

My new form of transport Kyiv, Ukraine

My new form of transport | Kyiv, Ukraine

Być albo nie być?

A bus stop is not a bus stop,
rather it is a moment of adjudication.
To stop or not to stop?
A saleswoman is not a saleswoman,
she is but a person who ponders.
To sell today or not to sell today?
A credit card terminal is not a credit card terminal,
it is but a signal to deliberate.
To function this time or not to function this time?
A coffee shop, is not a coffee shop,
it is here today, gone tomorrow and over there the next day.
Is it here today?
A menu is not a menu,
rather it is a list of potentialities.
Is there potential for soup today?
A national language is not a national language,
it is but a personal inclination.
Do I speak Rus-Krainian today?
Kyiv is Kyiv.
It is both solid and ephemeral.
Will you understand Kyiv today?

Kyiv, Ukraine

Kyiv, Ukraine


Beware the one who loves too swiftly.
That might be the one who’s often outdone.

Beware the one the loves too cautiously.
That might be the one who’s ready to run.

Beware the one who gives too willingly.
That might be the one who’s easily overrun.


Beware the one who lies to you.
That’s the one who likes to chase something new.

Beware the one you lie to.
That’s the one from whom you’re hiding your truth.

Beware the one who lies to himself.
That’s the one who’s got the world to lose.



They say we are inventors
of our own lives-

But what happens when
love and geopolitics collide?

They say it’s up to us
to go make history-

But what happens when
our fates are tied to the economy?

They say that we are
dreamers and creators-

But what happens when
your not the one the Devil favors?

They say that students
are the future

And that teachers
are their makers-

But what happens when
Teachers are not immune to sin-

What happens when
the world is run by flawed human?

So teachers teach
and students learn

to shape the world
and wait their turn-

For when the ink dries
and we erase the smudge,

all that we’ve done
the generations will judge.

You may do your best
to cast the die

in the direction
you think is right.

But don’t forget
that apple red

tasted sweet
before it bled regret.

Don’t think too hard,
you’ll freeze in place-

But don’t think that motion
will be your saving grace.

Feel the weight
of conscience there,

but don’t imagine
that snakes can care.

For to feel the sting
of errors made,

is not a thing
that reptiles share.

Harbor homeland
in your heart,

but know that homelands
can tear homes apart.

Grip your flag
tight about your chest,

but let it go when
it threatens to stop your breathe.

Let God in
your soul and mind,

but notice when
your goals are not aligned.

They say that God
lives in all of us,

but how do we know,
which bit of us to trust?

For even ribs
of the same life

can turn to Origin
and unleash strife.

Count the petals
of the flower,

and taste the nuance
of ruby seeds-

But don’t pretend
that once your done,

the winds of change
have not begun.

Your motion here,
turns soil there-

the webs of Earth
tug everywhere.


See your reflection
upon the glass,

but know the vision
cannot last,

for time is not
a constant thing

and crooked mirrors
reflect illusively.

They say we are inventors
of our own lives,

but what happens when
God and Devil collide?



The smoke snaked its way from the nargiles sitting on scattered tables to the balcony leading to the platform outside where the young sit, pretending to spend money they don’t, in fact, have. The smoky tentacles reveal a flashy place; the food being the kind of stuff you pay too much for in Kyiv, but should never eat- a Euro-Armenian fusion.

He is a Polish-Ukrainian and I am an American-Armenian/Assyrian-Mexican mutt- our own Euro-Armenian fusion.

We sat and ordered.

At once, a squat older man walked into the restaurant. He was followed by a tall, leggy young woman in high heels.

She did not wear much makeup and had on a short, flower-print dress which stretched tightly across firm thighs but betrayed a belly that savored all things culinary. Her hair was held up in a half pony tail which intertwined with delicate silver earrings, clinging to hair and neck like snakes. It was hard to tell if she was his daughter or his girlfriend, but the way she simpered over him hinted at the latter.

The man immediately addressed my friend in Russian. They shook hands and exchanged what seemed like niceties. Then I hear “Ternopil” and “Donetsk.” My friend responded, jaw tense. I don’t know what was said.

The man belted out with laughter at whatever my friend said and slapped my friend, who is 6 feet and 5 inches (195.5 cm.) tall, on the chest- hard. My friend laughed, tense.

The old Russian-speaker turned to sit at the booth of his choice. I looked inquisitively at my friend.

He clenched his jaw and in a low, tight voice growled “..sep-ar-a-tist…kurwa.”

I nodded, understanding but not understanding how he would know such a thing. There is still much I need to learn about that which is left unsaid between people here.

My friend said in a low voice, “He asked where I was from. I told him that I was from the Ternopil Oblast. Then he said that Ternopil is a good partner of Donetsk.” My friend’s face twisted into a sneer, “as if we would be partners with separatists…”

All at once, the Russian-speaking older gentleman was back at our table, waitress in tow. He ordered vodka for himself, a Mojito for his girl-daughter-friend and whiskey for my friend.

Then he turned to me and said something. I can only presume that he wanted to know what I wanted to drink. Only I don’t speak Russian, so I could not be sure.

My friend translated into Polish, “He wants to know if you want another glass of wine.”

I shook my head no, “I still haven’t finished this glass.”

My friend explained to the Russian-speaking man in Ukrainian, “She does not speak Russian, so speak in Ukrainian. She understands Ukrainian.”

The Russian speaker shook his head and responded in Russian. I understood that he would not speak in Ukrainian.

He then asked where I was from. I knew this because my friend plowed forward in Ukrainian, refusing the man Russian even though he spoke Russian fluently. “She is Assyrian, but born in America and we converse in Polish.”

Interesting choice, I thought. He went with Assyrian. Why Assyrian and not Mexican, or Armenian or Iranian?..Usually, the choice is strategically made.

“We are very international” my friend joked. They began to banter, my friend switching seamlessly into Russian. Testosterone was clearly being spitted back and forth like flamethrowers between the two as the laughter grew more raucous and the Russian slapped my friend more aggressively.

The woman that accompanied the man joined the table after having stepped outside for a cigarette. It was now clear that she was a romantic partner, though in what capacity remained unclear.

She introduced herself as “Marianna.” I shook her hand and responded with my name. Then, we both went quiet. The men were speaking.

I was able to discern snippets of the conversation, largely thanks to the fact that my friend would slip back into Ukrainian at choice intervals. He did not touch the Khachapuri he had ordered before the Russian arrived. His right hand still gripped the knife though, the left nursed the whiskey.

Then the Russian man pointed to me and I heard him say “washa Assyryska” (“your Assyrian girl”), and then he pointed at his Marianna. My friend went rigid, and in clear Ukrainian he said, “Sorry. She is mine.”

Mmmm-hmmm, I thought. I didn’t let anything show on my face though. The little hairs on the back of my neck told me that I should not let my feminist flag fly at this particular interval. This was an exchange I did not understand and therefor should not intervene. What had the man wanted that my friend decided to lay claim on me that way?

At once my friend stuck out his hand and stood to leave. I put down my glass of wine and stood as well, following his lead.

The Russian laughed loudly and cajoled my friend to sit down and that he would order us more to drink or nargile to smoke. My friend laughed and denied the offer. He said goodbye and I said goodbye to Marianna.

We walked out of the restaurant.

As soon as we were outside, I turned to my friend and asked what the man had said about me that made him say that I was “his.”

My friend looked sidelong down at me and explained, “Aleksandra, dear, that is what we call a man with too much money. These men think that they can buy everything and everyone. His Marianna is what we call a prostitute. And he wanted me to spend the night with her, so that he could make love to my Assyrian.”

I choked. “What?!?” I asked incredulously. “How did I get dragged into that conversation?”

My friend laughed, “Darling, welcome to Kyiv.”

Київ, Україна