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Wednesday, February 17, 2016


One eyed woman with a sign around her neck, begging--Kiev



Chuck Olroski said...


Your pictures are astonishing, foreign no doubt, but this particular one is not all that foreign.

Last Saturday, I arrived at St, Francis Kitchen for volunteer duty at 8:00 A.M. As I backed our Dodge into snow covered parking space, I saw an elderly woman (upper 60s?) nearby the facility's green dumpster, all bundled up, and seated in a wheelchair.

Snow mixed with freezing rain fell steadily, I went to her and asked if she'd like me to move her somewhere where there's roof cover. She steadfastly refused, said, "I'm alright here, buddy, but do you have a light?" I did not have matches but she gave me one of her cigarettes and I went inside my car to light it. Was the first hit on a cig that I had in a long time!

Very cold, let's say quite nasty, and I hurt to see her wool cap and sweat pants getting wetter by the minute. She had no teeth to worry about chattering... I offered her to sit inside my car to warm up until the kitchen opens, but she refused, said, "Nah, I like it right here where I'm at, besides 'ya don't want to get your car all smoked up, do 'ya?"

"You can crack the window if you want, Miss, and later on, I can buy an air freshener."

"Hmph, you can't take 'no' for an answer, eh? Just get along and help those people out inside."

At that, I said good bye, and entered the kitchen. While donning apron, I told chef Frank about her tragic situation, and he said, "God I know, Chuck, but she's always stubborn and does not seem to care for comforts we take for granted all the time."

That's that for now, Linh, & although the lady's a Kitchen regular, I did not even learn her name, and I went to cut up onions and peppers.

Thank you very much, I am anxious to read about Kiev! (Note: Unless mistaken, I see how poor Ukrainians choose to beg in a rather humble posture, upon knees. Of course, one does not see such in Scranton, local charity givers would be cautious about another ploy, disguised as tradition, come their way)

Linh Dinh said...

Yo Chuck,

From an article in the Catholic Herald, "Ukraine faces mass starvation and the exodus of millions, says bishop":

The bishop spoke as the Catholic Caritas organisation also warned of growing starvation and desperation in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine.

Bishop Sobilo told the Catholic News Service that a lack of water currently posed the biggest problem in eastern Ukraine, where food prices were three times higher than in the rest of the country.

He added that local children would be unable to start the new school year because most schools were closed and that the Ukrainian authorities had hushed up a spiraling rate of suicides.

“Whereas family members and friends were ready to help for a month or two, most have now exhausted their money and savings and had to ask the refugees to move on,” Bishop Sobilo said.

“Many elderly educated people, who previously had jobs, have been unable to face begging on the streets and have thrown themselves from windows and bridges. Such people often have no means of survival and no one to turn to, and have ended up starving.”

Chuck Olroski said...


Very disturbing news! I do not have the money to read the New York Times daily anymore, and I'm wondering if one of their journalists are covering the Ukraine tragedy.

Pope Francis visited Mexico City this past week, and he said the devil's active there. Looks like hell's Subsistence Control Director has his hands full in eastern Ukraine.

Thank you, am craving to read the Kiev Postcard, I'm off now for A.M. school bus run!


About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I lived mostly in the US from 1975 until 2018, but have returned to Vietnam, where I live in remote Ea Kly. I've also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), a novel, Love Like Hate (2010), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), and six collections of poems, with a Collected Poems apparently cancelled by Chax Press from external pressure. I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). My writing has been translated into Japanese, Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in Tokyo, London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.