Full title: A Collection of poetry about a Russian Refugee: Looking Behind, Home Is Not Here, Smile Back

In this collection we see the story of a woman and her journey from Russia to the United States. In these three poems that tell three very different moments in her new life. First in Looking Behind we walk side by side with a woman as she crosses the freezing terrain of Russia to meet the boat that brings her to America. A trip that begins with many other people but slowly she comes to realize that she makes it there days later alone and wonders if this is worth it. Realizing that she can’t turn back she makes the trip. In Home Is Not Here we watch her as she works long days and nights to pay back the people that brought her to America and she continues to question is it worth it. The America she had heard of is not the place that she is living it. When she finally gets her true freedom she enjoys a run down the street, wind in her hair, rolling in the grass and a new friend that simply offers her an apple, maybe she will make it. Finally in Smile Back for a short time she experiences home. Living in New York she finds the neighborhood where all Russian’s who make it to America want to live. Same language, culture, values, church, stories and understanding but when she gets married and moves away she again finds herself searching for Home.

Russian Refugee

  • Walking fast

    Walking hard

    Walking hoping that no one is behind us

    But you do not dare, I do not dare

    We do not dare to turn around.

    Turing around will cost us precious time

    Time we do not have

    Time to live

    One more minute

    One more hour

     A day or two if we are lucky

    If we can make it to the meeting place

    Where possible freedom is living on the other side of our trip.


    Memories of childhood

    Growing up with my brother Vladimir

    Not knowing how bad live here was.

    I love my home, the beautiful land.

    Never to get love in return.

    Poverty, starvation, no electricity, no jobs

    You are born poor, live poor, stay poor, die poor.

    Only family and love to push you through.

    No more pushes. It is time go.

    Mother plans our escape from

    Tolyatti, Russia.


    Eleven hours walking

    Weight on my back

    Two legs feel like one

    Weight feels like a ton

    Feet feel like brick shoes I did not try run

    Freedom feels like someone else’s perfect story.

    The sun was our guide for so many hours

    “Just keep your head towards the sun,” my mother said.

    “Keep walking and when your feet hurt look to the setting sun,”

    she said.

    It has gone.

    The sun had risen and set in the hours that we had been walking.

    What was our guide now?