Opinion editor's note: This article, part of our New Voices collection, was written by a first-time contributor to Star Tribune Opinion. For more information about our efforts to continually expand the range of views we publish, see startribune.com/opinion/newvoices.


In 1859, Ukrainian Taras Shevchenko wrote a poem titled "Calamity Again." It highlighted the repeated suffering of the Ukrainian people. My poem references that piece and is inspired by the current events in Ukraine.

"Dear God, calamity again! / It was so peaceful, so serene; / We had just begun to break the chains / That bind our folk in slavery / When halt! Once again the people's blood / Is streaming …"
— "Calamity Again," Taras Shevchenko

"Calamity Again" Again?

"Calamity Again" is written across Ukrainian faces.
Streets packed with cars.
Missiles infest neighborhood apartments.
Iron beams are twisted like yarn.
Bloodstained debris piles up.

Ukrainians walk out of police stations carrying tools of death.
Time to practice is a luxury.
Grandmas and grandsons alike are armed with AK-47s.
Unsure, they pray to the heavens.

Calamity Again.

Women no longer drink cocktails.
Now they throw them at soldiers and tanks.
Assembly lines of tears and hurt, poured into old glass bottles,
Deadly candles ready to explode.

Subways — once a place of excitement.
A way to get home.
Now where do people get off?
They have no destination.

Hours in a mobbed train station pass.
People crushing forward to depart from all they've known.

Calamity Again.

The switch is flipped.
Now everyone sees.
War is a master of alteration.

Dads run with their family to the finish line,
Just to turn and go back to the start.
War takes a picture from a photo album and turns it into an article announcing,
"Polina, 1 of 16 children dead!"
17 miles of tanks line up outside Kyiv,
As newborn babies line up in underground parking lots.
Dreams end as a 6-year-old dies in her blood-soaked unicorn pajamas.
Doctors cry over her —
tears can't reverse Russian shells.
War twists a Ukrainian orphanage into a gateway for soldiers to enter an innocent country.

Calamity Again.

Putin says "the Ukraine" is Russia's brother, its culture plagued by Neo Nazis.
Listen up "the Russia," stop being the Nazis of old.
The Ukraine is Ukraine.
Putin, you're the one who's inhumane.
44 million lives, 8 billion pairs of eyes watching, waiting.

Must we have calamity?

Magnolia Taylor is a sophomore at Mounds View High School. She lives in Arden Hills.