In a damp basement in Avdiivka,
a six-year-old girl named Varvara
draws a green alien with a black
eye that can see into the infinitely
finite future. It sees Vladimir Putin,
feet up on his 55-ton desk, staring at a photo
of Joseph Stalin. The sharp steel bristles
of Stalin’s mustache could draw blood
from delicate tissue. Putin nods,
raises his vodka glass to Comrade Stalin
and says: Great Leader, tell me,
will I ever be as greatly feared as you?
The alien briefly shudders. Then
its blank eye sees a long, birch-bark-
like strip cradled in the soft hands
of a surgeon who has just sliced
and pried this listless metal tongue
from the back of a woman, whose flesh
will never let her forget. The alien tilts
slightly to one side, then quickly rights
itself. Now its blank eye sees a girl
in a dank basement. She’s drawn
a green alien with one eye in the center
of its head. A reporter asks her:
Tell me, what can it see?
Can it see the end of this war?
No, says Varvara. No one can see that.
by John Bradley
Editor’s Note: This surrealistic narrative poem draws the reader into a possible scenario, yet as all good fiction does, also presents the reader with a probable truth that underlies the fictional story.