March 2018

Back to Issue 3

Fighting Girlfriend

By Brett Dionysius

for Mariya Oktyabrskaya


the blue-black news

stains your fingers

with death’s ink

two years later.


tears, a spring thaw

for your husband

dead as machinery

shut down in 

a kiev factory.


you convert grief

to anger, siberia

is warmed by your

winter fury.


you sell everything.

raise strange capital

to buy a tank off

the motherland.


you pen your widow’s

plea to stalin, nazis

you shit of a thing.

he is moved by your

eloquently worded rage.


he signs off on

a t-34 that glistens

like a new kettle.

you are done with

the domestic.


you train harder

than young men

half your age,

who have lost



you are thirty-eight.

you name your tank

‘fighting girlfriend’

decorating its turret

in messy cyrillic letters;

revenge’s scrawl.


men think you’re

a joke, a publicity

stunt who should

be on a poster not

in the driver’s seat.

they lose their swagger

after your first battle.


your tank is the

child you never had

together. every german

you kill you mouth

your husband’s name

repeating your

wedding vow.


you get out under fire

to fix a broken track.

the steel tread limp

& heavy in your arms

as your husband

after he has come.


they make you a sergeant

for honouring your love.

two more times you risk

everything to repair

your wife’s wrath

that artillery shreds

from Girlfriend’s wheels.


shrapnel takes you

in the head like a slap.

stalin reads of your

two month tryst

with death & signs

off on your loyalty.


you keep your oath

& join your husband

throwing yourself on

war’s funeral pyre.