Collateral Damage, poetry by Barbara Harris Leonhard at
Gayatri Malhotra

Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage

written by: Barbara Harris Leonhard



Viktoriia’s sign,
“Children are not Nazis!”

My sign promotes compassion, kindness,
unity. With hearts dressed in colors for Ukraine.

The protest on a busy corner daily at 5:00pm.
Viktoriia’s baby naps in a carrier

against a warm bosom
as Putin bombs schools

and soldiers massacre mothers
with newborns.

Honking cars respond with loud wails. People pull over
to get free signs.

Save Lives in Ukraine!

Viktoriia calls her family there daily.
Another Ukrainian friend

hasn’t heard from her relatives
for weeks now. “We’re hoping

it’s just that
the internet is down.”

But in Mariupol –
mass graves.

Another friend’s elderly father
who has Parkinson’s

is nearly abandoned
as helpers have fled.

She’s on the phone daily
pleading for others

to aid this man in his nineties. Get him his meds.
Some food.

Across the street from our crowd in blue and yellow
stands a bearded man as old as war,

holding his hunched-over sign, “Save Palestine.”
I can see through him

to his dissolving joints. We wave.
He teeters off, still seeking recovery.

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