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Stories that you confided to us

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Sergey Volokh

"We just need to quench the war"

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I was born beyond the Don river, in the Salsk steppes, in the village of Zimovniki. According to historical information, these villages were settled by the Zaporozhye Cossacks. For the winter they went to the Don river, or even beyond the Don river, away from the enemies. In these villages they spent winters, nursed the wounded, and in the spring returned to their camp in Zaporozhye Sich. I was born in such a village.

Childhood, teenage time and youth were spent near Zimovniki, on the Kievsky village. This farm was organized and equipped by my great-grandfathers. After Stolypin's reforms, they moved from the Chernigov region to free lands, beyond the Don river. So my ancestral roots come from Chernigov land.

My education is four grades. In Kievskoe there was only an elementary school. After school, I went to work on a collective farm. I carried grain from combines on oxen and horses. It was the main transport in those years. Then I shepherded all the horned and hornless animals that were on the farm. I worked as a stableman, a bullock, a cattleman, a herder, a shepherd. Then I finished courses of tractor drivers and before the military service worked as a tractor driver.

After the military service, I moved to live in Gorlovka, where I worked as a car coupler at the Nitrogen fertilizer plant, as a mechanic at the Gorlovsky coke plant and as a bulldozer operator at city construction sites.

In 1974 I moved to the village of Novoluganskoye - worked as a pig feeding operator, where I retired. I have earned a pension with all the allowances for today 1580 UAH.

All my life I hunched myself on the fields

And have grown mountains of grain,

But apart from hernia and calluses

I didn't make a shit.

All I can add is that the Salskaya steppe is dry, low-yielding, during the post-war famine we survived on the roots of grasses and the grasses themselves, mainly on gophers, of which there were many in the steppe at that time.

I am a worker by nature, I think I am kind. I love nature, everything that is alive.

Back in the fourth grade, my teacher secretly gave the forbidden Yesenin to read, and since then I have become attached to the artistic word. I love poetry. Repeatedly I made attempts to write, it did not work out very well - and for years I cooled off to creativity, so to speak. Family, children, getting a piece of bread ... No time for creativity. Knowledge and diplomas, again, like a hare's tail.

And only after retirement, when there was a little more time, did I entertain my soul with a wonderful artistic word. I wrote, of course, for myself at the bidding of my soul. I'm a lyricist by nature. And what can a person write about, if he has been dealing with animals and tractors all his life?

Philosophy, serious civic topics are not available to me. What remains is Nature: flowers, birds, insects, fishing - what friends and relatives laugh at. Well, my opinion is that it is not important what to write about, but how.

Fet wrote about nature, so what? And who of the famous poets did not write about nature? Of course, I'm not talking about myself. I tried to write for myself, for the needs of my soul, and no more.


Do diseases and evil oppress me

When pills are useless

Nature heals me

By the touch of a quivering branch.


Radiant sun pendants

And the dewy meadow is cool,

And fish splashes in backwaters -

Fisherman's heart delights.


All this is dear, cherished.

And I see as if for the first time:

The village behind the river

And the mountains are chalk in the rays.

I ask

I ask children, men and women,

I ask old women and old people:

To take care of the smallest brothers -

Ants, grasshoppers, bugs.


Even if you are in a hurry

Whether to school, to the house, to the factory,

Under your feet, please look -

Someone tiny lives there.


Quiet harmless creature

Maybe a day or two of all he lives

Maybe it has a date with a friend

Maybe it crawls to visit his mother.


I appeal to your human kindness,

Do you build or mow the grass -

Do not kill little bugs

Let them live under the sun.

My attitude to the war, to this incomprehensible heart of the ATO

In Zakotny

The nightingales sang in Zakotnoye,

Music thundered in the neighborhood

Now battles are raging in the village -

Brothers Slavs fight each other.


What is the battle for, what is the war for?

Brothers are fighting for freedom.

But we have only one

Under our stepfather's sky.


We would protect it together -

Our freedom, our word.

Our melodious speech

With melodious Ukrainian language!


The day will come, I'm sure

We'll throw visor to the landfill,

We’ll hand over swords for scrap

And melt them into plowshares.

Homo sapiens

The ideals of the Maidan were crumpled.

Brother went against brother with a sword.

We sow the fields with shards -

What shall we reap?


We cut Ukraine with missiles

Contrary to common sense.

And what are we after that

Homo sapiens, fellow countrymen?

What descendants will say about us

Winter field is in funnels

Stems are in dirty snow

And there are fragments under your feet

Almost at every step.


Plowing out these shards

Years from now ... it's hard to say.

What will descendants say about us

I would like to know.

Not a word about guns today

Not a word about explosions and guns today.

I will go planting in sowing fields

And I will listen from the green lane

Call signs of steppe love quail.


How the native expanse pleases my heart,

Cicadas of unceasing polyphony.

On a quiet field untouched by mines

Ears tiptoe to the sun.


But distant shots are heard again -

Again, someone broke the truce.

And I wanted not a word about explosions,

But again, remorseful, about explosions and guns.

The light of smiles shall return

In the sultry honeycomb of the forest interbands

Bread is growing and ripening.

Master-Sun shapes the ears,

Having selected larger ones for the coat of arms.


It will all last for long

We will sow bread and mow.

The light of smiles will return to faces -

We only want to quench the war.

True signs

Cheerful chirping in the yard

The house is flooded with the sun.

Under the eaves of the house they mold

Swallows nest.


The hymn to spring sings from antenna

Starling soloist,

And coos with inspiration

A peaceful dove.


These are true signs -

Smoke will disappear

The sky will be bright,

Peaceful labor underneath

And now a quiet, low-income old age has come in our long-suffering poor Ukraine - and the poems are being written with an entirely different content.

Falling leafs

Assorted leaves danced twist -

The village seems to be in the palm of your hand.

Burning last leaf

I lay down on the cold windowsill.


Through the hospital window

It hurts me to hear the groans from the garden.

For the first time, the heart burned

The cold heat of the fall leaves.


Alleys, streets, houses

The winds are open to furious.

And winter is ahead ... winter,

Winter and old age that’s the point.

Old age, illness, lack of moneys for treatment. After a heart surgery and heavy intake of chemical medications, I poisoned my liver, pancreas and everything in the gastrointestinal cavity. In the spring and autumn, it would be necessary to go to the hospital to maintain a preventive therapy, but how can I afford it with a 1,500 pension and a mind-boggling rise in medication prices?

However, I’m getting soft... We, Donbass people, are persistent, no matter how you break us. Will shall live!

When quoting a story, a reference to the source – the Museum of Civilian Voices of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation – is mandatory, as follows:

The Museum of Civilian Voices of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation

Rinat Akhmetov Foundation Civilian Voices Museum
Novoluhanske 2014 Text Civilian's stories
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