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11 March 2020updated 26 Jul 2021 6:41am


A new poem by Serhiy Zhadan, translated by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin. 

Sunday school.
The schoolyard leads to a riverbank.
A priest is fighting with the workers
who repair the road.

The blooming of irises,
a high sky over the riverbed.

The children look at illustrations.
The school textbooks
note what’s most important:

the dead leave their coffins
like it’s the subway’s last stop.
Jesus is on the cross
like a traffic cop at an intersection –
no one gets
what he really wants. 

A New Orthography, a collection of poems by Serhiy Zhadan and translated from the Ukrainian by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin, is published by Lost Horse Press.

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This article appears in the 11 Mar 2020 issue of the New Statesman, How the world is closing down