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Using BBC interviews on the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, Anne Pluto crafts found poems to create a rich history that reflects both her own Russian heritage and one of the worst man-made disasters of the 20th Century.

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For Sergei Brushko

Give me your glasses
then your eyes – a second sight
necessary to envision what I have
not lived – and that by mere chance
my mother confessed – god spoke to her
Go to America – where you were born.
My father – the war was his adventure
and me – the first generation of this family
escaped Chernobyl – but I must be the west
witness – lest we forget the complications
of modern life – of empire and heat of energy
and human frailty. Sergei – even from the grave
your photos haunt and chronicle – the quick and
the dead – wake them all with your eyes
bring us not to commemoration, or to remembrance
but to action and diligence
bring us home.


I confess that we were afraid of panic,

The cold war seems an incongruous
vestige of the past – demonstrated disaster
unique – no country can be prepared for every
eventuality – we must deploy the maximum effort
to prevent disasters. Social ecological economic
consequences too heavy in every sense of the word
In the beginning there was the word and the word
Was god
. Responsibility enormous – politicians, scientists
engineers and designers – their mistakes cost the earth the life
and health of millions.
The victims continue to suffer, moral duty to help them
moral duty to help them while continuing to limit ecological
consequences of this disaster.

You waited three weeks – silence – Soviet motto – don’t seek advice
from abroad – but who would know just how to handle the heat – put out the fire
and put out the light – no one could have caused more damage to Russia
than the Russians themselves – now the day of remembrance draws near.
I see, I hear, I feel you.

About the Author

Anne Elezabeth Pluto is Professor of Literature and Theatre at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA where she is the artistic director and one of the founders of the Oxford Street Players, the university’s Shakespeare troupe. She is an alumna of Shakespeare & Company, and a member of the Worcester Shakespeare Company. She was a member of the Boston small press scene in the late 1980s and is one of the founders and editors at Nixes Mate Review. Her chapbook, The Frog Princess, was published by White Pine Press (1985), her chapbook Benign Protection by Cervana Barva Press (2016) and the edited print edition of Lubbock Electric by Nixes Mate Books (2018) Recent publications include: The Buffalo Evening News, Unlikely Stories: Episode IV, Mat Hat Lit, Pirene’s Fountain, The Enchanting Verses Literary Review, Mockingheart Review, Yellow Chair Review, Levure Litteraire – numero 12, The Naugatuck River Review, and Tuesday, An Art Project, Mom Egg Review, with forthcoming work in Fulcrum.

Copyright © 2020 Anne Elezabeth Pluto

Cover design by d’Entremont

ISBN 978-1-949279-19-1

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.

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