the soul of Ukraine
A fire burns in Stavyshche, Ukraine, after a rocket strike on Monday, March 14, 2022. (WikiCommons)

There are ways to fight Putin’s invasion of the free people of Ukraine. I use words, knowing each letter builds a metaphor to uplift the countless suffering of innocents, dictated by a megalomaniac.

Recently, I could not sleep. So, I wrote Black Wing Passing to stand up for humanity.

Black Wing Passing
by James Coburn

Block after block,
the shutter of little feet.
The silence of the dead;
who will speak?
Putin’s propaganda war machine
closes in on breath,
a hospital, citizen soldiers,
and row-on-row of flickering lamps.

Thirsty, exhausted,
another night in Soviet-era tunnels
cold and damp, scant bits of bread.
A mother’s despair, a campfire flame.
“Is anything the same?”
Gone, gone, gone.

Voices sing the dream,
invisible in Putin’s propaganda machine,
set to feed curious Russians, reasons
pointed upside down, a twisted and shivering
fallout on cake sliced apart
by one aging man
sitting at the edge of a table — alone,
his back across the room, not to approach
as he impregnates fear, aborting lives,
“Give them crumbs.”

Bombs away, no more play.
Parasitic words of a maggot devour reason.
Bodies pile horror in trenches.
Cover the dead.
Nearby, the blackbirds roost, fly away, away.
Haze penetrates the sky. Cities burn skin.
War is a massacre within the megalomaniac’s eye.
Smile for your camera, KGB Officer Putin
in your slaughterhouse
of Stalin dreams/Hitler schemes.
You are their malice that won you over.
You surrendered.

Who will come at this desperate hour
to sing the soul of Ukraine?
Oh, rise above the square and rest
in the tunnels of Kyiv as we sing.
Brotherhood of resistance
shall not dance on puppet strings.
It is the song of freedom
rising not to fall again.
We shall spread our voice
We shall not be silent.

Mothers in Moscow will say,
“Where is my son?”
Dead in Putin’s drum.
“Where are we going?”
the young Russian soldier said.
No answers for the dead.
Rain of fire overhead.

(Editor’s note: NonDoc publishes poetry, short prose, visual art and other artistic ideas pitched by creatives in Oklahoma and around the world. Submissions are encouraged, but pieces should be at least 275 words in length. Submit your work for consideration by contacting

James Coburn is an Oklahoma poet, photographer and journalist. His first book of poetry, "Words of Rain," was a 2015 finalist for the Oklahoma Book Awards. His work has appeared numerous anthologies. A long­time journalist for The Edmond Sun, Coburn is a 2013 inductee of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.