The worst is when war catches a man with a string shopping bag
When he’s on his way back from the store.
In his bag, there’s a bottle of milk and a loaf of bread.
And war laughs, “Should’ve bought salt, soap, and matches.”
And the man asks, “What do I need salt and matches for?”
And war answers, “Cuz it’ll come in handy later.”
By Ludmila Khersonsky
Translated by Maya Chhabra
Ludmila Khersonsky was born in Odessa in 1964. She is the author of four award-winning books of poetry. Her poems were published in many literary magazines in Ukraine and other countries. Her poems were translated into German, English, Polish, and Lithuanian. The Country Where Everyone’s Name is Fear, a selection of her poetry and her husband Boris Khersonsky’s, edited by Ilya Kaminsky and Katie Farris, will be published in English in April 2022.
Maya Chhabra is a writer and translator living in Brooklyn.
Photo by Lisa Kalloo
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Read previous poems from Poetry Travels:
UNTITLED POEM by Iryna Vikyrchak
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IT’S COMING AGAIN by Michael Strunge, translated by Paul Russell Garrett
REPORT FROM ANOTHER CITY by Marcin Niewirowicz, translated by the Author
INTERIOR by Ana Blandiana, translated by Paul Scott Derrick and Viorica Patea
THIS IS LOVE by Joanna Fligiel, translated by Anna Blasiak
REVELATION IN H&M by Menno Wigman, translated by David Colmer
*** (I WANT TO FOLD THIS DAY) by Inga Pizāne, translated by Jayde Will
THE SIEGE by Marcin Świetlicki, translated by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese
FISH by Jana Putrle Srdić, translated by Barbara Jurša
THE WELL by Maarja Pärtna, translated by Jayde Will
THE SHADOW by Pentti Saarikoski, translated by Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah
A FAREWELL TO MY DEAD CLASS by Irit Amiel, translated by Anna Blasiak and Marta Dziurosz
THE GIRLS IN BERGEN-BELSEN by Nora Gomringer, translated by Annie Rutherford
DECEMBER, by Jaume Subirana, translated by Christopher Whyte
ROSE RED, by Ulrike Almut Sandig, translated by Karen Leeder
*** (I D[R]IPPED MY PEN…) by Mario Martín Gijón, translated by Terence Dooley
WHAT COMES by Magda Cârneci, translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Mădălina Bănucu
TRANSLATION by Justyna Bargielska, translated by Maria Jastrzębska
*** (MY EYES, DENSE NIGHT…) by Gëzim Hajdari, translated by Ian Seed