Burnt russian tank near Kyiv. Photo by Alex Fedorenko on Unsplash

Ukraine: nine years (not one) of Russian invasion


These poems are a tiny fragment from my verse novel, “Carbon”, which was finished in 2019 and published in 2020. By writing this book, I had made a desperate attempt to draw public attention back to the geopolitical and war crimes perpetrated by the Russian regime in Ukraine since 2014. The illicit annexation of Crimea and the military occupation of Donbas made the world press lines but for a couple of weeks, then were belittled and quickly forgotten.

Today, we are not into the first but into the ninth year of Russian invasion in Ukraine.

The horrible crescendo of war atrocities could have been curtailed had the world stepped out of its convenience zones of “good bargain” with the terrorist state back in 2014 and done what was, much belatedly, done to stop the aggressor in 2022.

Photo by Natan Yakobs on Unsplash

The Garden of Donetsk Delights

Á la retroviral Bosch

Left Panel

Mount Wank in the Alps.
Lisa on a king-size bed,
Her head on my chest.
I remember subversively wanting her to conceive –
Europe knocked up by a second-world ox.

The plane is on time.
Lara in her buckwheat prime
Picks me up at Arrivals
With a secretive air,
A faint note of bass soup in her hair
Underpinning her perfume.
As we pass the huge bas-relief of Prokofiev,
She holds out her iPhone
With a photo of two litmus stripes.
Her daft Louboutins
Keep getting stuck in the steps
Of the moving staircase.

Lara had sensed my business trip fling,
She always knew when I had a bit on the side.
As ever, she shouldn’t have worried.

Central Panel

Mom Aphrodite fled
From her metallurgical throne
To shack in animal bodies.
If you see a dead beast, it is her.
She gets a big O
From every act of her murder.


A butterfly on Lara’s still toe,
A carnivorous swallowtail.
My reasoning goes
Along the line of my Dragon.

Collimator-sight – cartridge – foe:
A sniper on top of a spoil tip
With a spin-diving kestrel
On my MultiCam sleeve.

Merapi, Mount Rainier, Vesuvius –
Three baby volcanos meet
At a lake of serene two-tone waters.
I used to call this spot in turns
Donetsk Riviera,
Donbas Crimea,
Steppe Cayo Coco –
A place for clandestine dates.

Now they are firing points.

Right Panel

I’ve eaten my shoulder straps.
I’ve hung topsy turvy.
If harems existed in Donetsk,
I could apply for the job of a eunuch.

My right leg is tied to my Jeep,
My left to an armoured transporter.
They rev to start in different directions.
This is a finale custom-tailored for snipers.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Nine years, not one.

The fate of about fifty million civilian Ukrainians in Ukraine itself and diaspora has changed irrevocably. Stolen childhood and adolescence. Lost homes. Obliterated hometowns and villages. The safe but inconvenient fate of refugees abroad – these are the “best case” scenarios.

Those who didn’t flee have become heroes of unprecedented defiance, having learned to live without a certainty of waking up alive the following morning, and, if woken up alive, living the day with tenfold intensity amid blackouts and ruined infrastructure.

During this nightmarish year, Ukrainians abroad, whatever their day jobs are, have worked their second shifts in fundraising, refugee relief, raising awareness of Ukraine in mass media.

All this, aided by multitudes of compassionate people unconnected to Ukraine but connected to justice, humanity, and common sense.

I would like to thank the Leipzig community for their unstinting support of all kinds, for their generosity and compassion to my compatriots. I shall never forget your readiness to help, and the incredible speed at which your help came. You have saved lives. You have been fighting for light. You have been accelerating the victory of justice.

Anti-war crowd in front of building
Protest against the war on Ukraine, Leipzig. Image by maeshelle west-davies

When soldiers defend their homeland, their families, friends, their freedom, their efficiency and motivation perform miracles. The world, which failed to nip the tyrant in the bud, is now full of admiration for the Ukrainian Armed Forces – the new heroes, saints, martyrs.

May the military support for Ukraine not cease until the imminent Ukrainian victory. There is no other option.

Ukrainians are defending the only world worth living in. Speaking in our local metaphors, Ukraine is the roof of the precious Gondwanaland in Leipzig Zoo, protecting the fragile beauty of Europe from the cruel and toxic cold of the aggressor.

Dictatorial regimes of this scale do not survive. It is the law of history, and the law of evolution. We have seen the end of the Third Reich. We have seen the end of the Soviet Union. We shall see the end of neo-Russian fascism.

May this year of war be its last.

Svetlana Lavochkina at the Cocktail Open Mic Vol 1. (Photo: Kate Hiller)
Svetlana Lavochkina at the Cocktail Open Mic Vol 1. The Ukrainian author has been fighting for her native country’s cause in Germany by raising awareness in the media, in her writings, and in talks. (Photo: Kate Hiller)

More excerpts from “Carbon”

Svetlana Lavochkina is a Ukrainian-born novelist, poet and poetry translator, now residing in Germany. In 2013, her novella Dam Duchess was chosen runner-up in the Paris Literary Prize. Her debut novel, Zap, was shortlisted for Tibor & Jones Pageturner Prize 2015. Svetlana’s work has been widely published in the US and Europe. It appeared in AGNI, New Humanist, POEM, Witness, Straylight, Circumference, Superstition Review, Sixfold, Drunken Boat and elsewhere.

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