POETS IN THE SEREBRIANSKYI FOREST

The Serebrianskyi forest is alight.

At first, it is only a hint on the breeze.

The faint smell of wood smoke.

Amid the pine trees.

 

A reference to the battlefields.

Of World War One.

The sprawling forest lies.

To the east of the city of Lyman.

 

 

Three men of.

The 1st Special Purpose Bohun Brigade.

Climb into.

An armoured Humvee.

 

They climb into.

An armoured Humvee.

As the sound of artillery thumps.

Ahead in the distance.

 

Earlier the brigade’s.

Press officer had warned you:

“It’s like Verdun.

Out there.”

 

Here, and stretching north.

To the city of Kupiansk.

The ‘orcs’ have made modest gains.

In recent weeks.

 

 

The Serebrianskyi forest is alight.

At first, it is only a hint on the breeze.

The faint smell of wood smoke.

Amid the pine trees.

 

A reference to the battlefields.

Of World War One.

The sprawling forest lies.

To the east of the city of Lyman.

 

 

As the Humvee drives.

Deeper into the woods.

Lumbering over dirt tracks.

The trees are on fire.

 

Some burning where they stand.

Others now collapsed.

Blackened trunks.

On the heavily cratered ground.

 

Dust and smoke billows.

Into the vehicle.

From the gunner’s turret.

Dust and smoke billows.

 

Here, and stretching north.

To the city of Kupiansk.

The ‘orcs’ have made modest gains.

In recent weeks.

 

 

The Serebrianskyi forest is alight.

At first, it is only a hint on the breeze.

The faint smell of wood smoke.

Amid the pine trees.

 

A reference to the battlefields.

Of World War One.

The sprawling forest lies.

To the east of the city of Lyman.

 

 

The battalion commander.

Sits forward in the passenger seat.

His attention firmly fixed.

On the road ahead.

 

And the sky above.

As much as the small.

Cracked toughened.

Windscreen will allow.

 

“This damage was an artillery strike.

This morning.

Maybe a couple of hours ago.

You see it’s still burning.”

 

He has been fighting.

‘Mordor’ and its proxies.

For years.

Starting in Donbas in 2014.

 

His only break was.

A month in hospital.

After he was shot.

In the hand last September.

 

In the car.

He barely says a word.

And radio communications.

Are kept to a minimum.

 

 

The Serebrianskyi forest is alight.

At first, it is only a hint on the breeze.

The faint smell of wood smoke.

Amid the pine trees.

 

A reference to the battlefields.

Of World War One.

The sprawling forest lies.

To the east of the city of Lyman.

 

 

The earlier ‘orcs’ rocket strikes.

Have destroyed the tree canopy.

Laying bare the ground.

And road ahead.

 

The troops are exposed.

And the Humvee.

And a pick-up truck.

Leading in front.

 

Kick up great clouds.

Of dirt and sand.

Into the late morning air.

The troops are exposed.

 

Here, and stretching north.

To the city of Kupiansk.

The ‘orcs’ have made modest gains.

In recent weeks.

 

 

The Serebrianskyi forest is alight.

At first, it is only a hint on the breeze.

The faint smell of wood smoke.

Amid the pine trees.

 

A reference to the battlefields.

Of World War One.

The sprawling forest lies.

To the east of the city of Lyman.

 

 

The driver grips.

The steering wheel firmly.

As the Humvee’s engine labours.

Over dips and twists in the track.

 

His helmet rolls around.

On the centre console.

At the feet.

Of the gunner.

 

Who mans.

The 50-calibre gun.

With a cigarette.

Hanging from his lips.

 

Some 40 minutes.

Into the drive.

A fireball explodes directly.

In front of the Humvee.

 

The gunner drops down.

Into the cab of the vehicle.

Is he unhurt?

He nods OK.

 

 

The Serebrianskyi forest is alight.

At first, it is only a hint on the breeze.

The faint smell of wood smoke.

Amid the pine trees.

 

A reference to the battlefields.

Of World War One.

The sprawling forest lies.

To the east of the city of Lyman.

 

 

“A lot of drones.”

The battalion commander shouts.

From the passenger seat, cursing.

“A lot of drones.”

 

“That was a drone.

Attack against our car.

‘Orcs’ kamikaze drone.”

He says – referring to devices.

 

Guided by secondary.

Surveillance drones.

Which can crash into targets.

With pinpoint accuracy.

 

“They saw us from the top.

And then tried to attack.

They saw us.

And now they are seeking us.”

 

“They saw us.

And now they are hunting us.

So we need to go fast.

And go back.”

 

The drone hit the road.

Between the Humvee and.

The lead pick-up truck.

Missing you by a metre.

 

The dust cloud you were creating.

Which may have alerted.

The ‘orcs’ to our position.

Also likely clouded their targeting.

 

Two drones were.

In the sky above.

One for surveillance.

The other to strike.

 

 

The Serebrianskyi forest is alight.

At first, it is only a hint on the breeze.

The faint smell of wood smoke.

Amid the pine trees.

 

A reference to the battlefields.

Of World War One.

The sprawling forest lies.

To the east of the city of Lyman.

 

 

As you head back.

Down another dirt road.

The blackened remains.

Of another Humvee.

 

Its armour cracked wide open.

And its turret gone.

Lies by the roadside.

The victim of an earlier attack.

 

The commander explains.

A week ago.

One of their soldiers was killed.

And three injured.

 

When a kamikaze drone.

Took out.

Yet another.

Of the battalion’s vehicles.

 

 

The Serebrianskyi forest is alight.

At first, it is only a hint on the breeze.

The faint smell of wood smoke.

Amid the pine trees.

 

A reference to the battlefields.

Of World War One.

The sprawling forest lies.

To the east of the city of Lyman.

 

 

Back at his base.

The commander explains further.

“In the last two weeks.

Drones are attacking.”

 

“Drones are attacking.

More and more and more.

Because the ‘orcs’.

They’re studying.”

 

“Because the ‘orcs’.

They’re educating.

Their drone operators and.

It is… getting harder to fight them.”

 

Here, and stretching north.

To the city of Kupiansk.

The ‘orcs’ have made modest gains.

In recent weeks.

 

 

The Serebrianskyi forest is alight.

At first, it is only a hint on the breeze.

The faint smell of wood smoke.

Amid the pine trees.

 

A reference to the battlefields.

Of World War One.

The sprawling forest lies.

To the east of the city of Lyman.

 

 

*Because I read “Russia’s kamikaze drones raining down on Ukraine’s east” by Fergal Keane on 30 Aug 2023, and also “Why are Ukrainians calling Russians ‘orcs’?” by James FitzGerald on 30 Apr 2022, on the BBC news.
So, I wrote this poem as a story of the 1st Special Purpose Bohun Brigade – Taras, “Speaker”, “Accountant”, and “Student”.
Please read the original story on the BBC news:

Russia’s kamikaze drones raining down on Ukraine’s east – BBC News