ISSUE FOUR: Sell A Mystery | next poem →


Natalya Sukhonos

After four months of training with the Soviet Airborne Brigades
in weapons, tactics, signal communications,
map reading, artillery, gas, and maneuvers
a young man falling
             from a plane 8,200 meters above the ground
forgets the thick slur of the plane engine.
In fifty years, he will embarrass his granddaughters
by sounding out Morse Code messages
for thirty minutes straight at the West Point Museum.
But there is no one to signal to
as he's accelerating at 9.8 meters per second squared.
His only instrument, which doubles as a weapon
is his own hardened body.

Armed with the Soviet Airborne Forces Mission—
           "To disorganize enemy command and control,
           to secure terrain crossings in enemy rear,
           landings of naval infantry and river crossings," 1
the paratroopers meet with wrecked railroad tracks and bad weather,
their white parachutes turned beacons
for German anti-aircraft fire.

As the young man falls, it is all
                    in the air—
           In two months,
           two and a half fingers gone from
           his left hand, two from his right.
           He marries Galina, the somber village mathematician
           who keeps him from jumping into
           the swoon of moonshine and the Communist Party.
           Putting on his grey fedora, clutching his matching bag,
           he waits in line for fresh milk to bring to his grandchildren.
           His daughter takes him to the States,
           preventing him from falling into
           the torpor of widowerhood, the daily tedium
           of goulash, visits to his dead.

Ukraine's black earth, so good for harvest,
is broken to the point it bleeds.
Tiny beetles scurry in its cracks,
crawling all over his toes, grasping little granules
of the world he carries to send them back to earth.
The earth receives his warmth, and in exchange
gives him a hush of buried voices, and the shrill trembling
of voices yet unborn. It gives him over
to the slow and unrelenting
hand of time, a small bird's wizened claw
scratching a broken map into the earth,
in the late spring air,
                        ready for take-off.

1 Lieutenant Colonel David M. Glantz, The Soviet Airborne Experience (Combat Studies Institute: Research Survey No. 4), 40.

Natalya Sukhonos is a San-Francisco-based poet, academic, and educator at AltSchool. She has a PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard and speaks 5 languages. Natalya hails from Odessa, Ukraine and calls New York her second home. Her poems have appeared in Dr. Hurley's Snake-Oil Cure, the Yellow Medicine Review, Middle Gray Magazine, cahoodaloodaling, Emerge Literary Journal, and Empty Sink Publishing. She is also an expecting mother.

ISSUE FOUR: Sell A Mystery | next poem →

ISSUE FOUR: Sell A Mystery

Jesse Nissim
   Entrance and Difference
   There was a bit of dust
      named Alana

Madeline Vardell
   swept up in silver & yellow

   An Imaginarian

Peter J. Greico
   [1401 - 1500]
   [11601 - 11700]
   [16901 - 17000]

KJ Hannah Greenberg
   Initially Thrilled to the Idea
       of Memories

Douglas Luman
   from Star/Formation

Vincent Toro
   MicroGod Schism Song

Rage Hezekiah

Natalya Sukhonos

Laurel Radzieski
   X and Y Axes of Charts
       Made About T's Lover
       (The Incident)

Jonathan Travelstead

Emily Strauss
   White Night Terror

Les Kay
   In the Basement of the Penal
       Colony, Version 2.3,
       Rimbaud Remembers