Featured Foreign Poet

Mykola Buchko

Editor's Note: I met Mykola Buchko in September 1999 in Cernivtsi City, where he proudly gave me his book of poetry, The Grey Eyes of My Town. On the first page Mykola inscribed a message (in Ukrainian) to express his delight over my interest in his culture. I was touched by his modest little book with a Ukrainian poem printed on one page and its English translation on the opposite. The obvious excitment and longing in Mykola's eyes (that an American was taking his poetry back to the United States) sparked my imagination. The result, one year later is the bilingual web site you are reading now. Thank you Mykola!

Mykola Buchko Mykola Ivanovych Buchko was born on August 19, 1948 in the village of Udych, Vinnychyna. He studied Ukrainian linguistics at the Chernvitsi State University and worked at the headquarters of newspapers and journals.

He has been writing poetry since he was ten years old. He has authored six books. Some of his works have been translated into foreign languages (English, Russian, Romanian, etc.). He has conceived several literary musical programs on state television as well as literary musical plays on the scene of the philharmonic society and theater named after O.Kobylyanska.

He has been working with talented youth, promotes the publications of gifted authors, he initiated the project of mutual translations of writers from different countries.

Today he is the chief editor of Chernivtsi Municipal Publishing Informational Center "Misto".

He has won several literary prizes and is a member of the National Writers' Society of Ukraine.

He lives in Chernivtsi at the following address: 58017 Chernivtsi, 11b Komarova St. Apt. 16, tel. 4 64 13

The following are six poems from The Grey Eyes of My Town

Living Aloud

The Grey Eyes of My Town bookcover Like children
stained by painful family memories,
we trip
over the stubble of consonants,
Dried by winds
Of long breathed vowels.

We learn to speak
like children.
We are eager to grow
up to the height
of living aloud.


The clock on the Town Hall stopped.
Passers-by did not notice.
They were praying for something,
or cursing something,
inventing something,
forgetting something,
Queuing up for something.
Soul-toeing, not tiptoeing.

with paper bags
For Love of neighbors
and strangers,
for tormented land.

The Hand that Writes Poetry

These Eyes
though proud and all-seeing,
see nothing
but the pentagram of my arm
and five fingers
by cigarette smoke
and casual handshakes
of different meanings.

Five fingers
so much like five days
in a desperate God's created week.
My soul bleeds
out of the open wound
my hand.


Chernivtsi roadway
treacherous with rocks,
yet black cherries too
bright in their naked purity
mirror its secrets.

Chernivtsi roadway
shines, glares, rushes along
under wheels of days, years.

I hear my mother's song
her memories, imagination
like snowflakes rustle, wander
through incarnations of Eminesku, Franko.

Houses are stone recollections,
transfixed in sky,
gather stars and reflections of flowers

Colors blossom in Light's narrow passage
where pictures of silent words die slowly.
Alas, that is not my mother's last message,
those stone syllables.
I shall survive.

To Olga Kobylanska

Why is that weed,
thin and prickly like
a silver spear,
so anxious to grow here?

Thunder roars from the
depths of the well.

The truth is sunk
in the mist and smoke of Dymka.

I do not pity
those not able
to love. They miss what is left
of stormy oceans
of life.
For them there is no boat,
no oar, no road
and no dream
and no dance
at the ball of the past.

Only you,
salt in the wound
and nail in the palm.

For Son

For a while I will escape
those pupils of my ancient town.
I'll hide my soul in a secret place
in labyrinths underground.

Gloomy days
will moan above me.
I suffer,
below clouds swollen with cold rain,
air filled with a stranger's silent language

I see dark blue asphalt melt and flow,
over cobbled roadway's glare
of nakedness.
A balcony groans,
Bids farewell to height,

For a while I'll run away
from everyday pleasures, pain.
I'll light a candle in my half-real cave
and learn the truth,
ignore reason.

Mesmerized by light
I'll go down steep stairs,
clay or marble
and fall in love again with the town's soul.

As the University floats
under a sail of allied times,
a shy, unknown poet,
looks into my towns eyes.

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