Balkana

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Skopje ili Beograd

Skopje ili Beograd,

It plays through the stereo

 _

The bus driver gets up at

the stoplight to put on shoes

_

Karta? Tickets out and ready.

I hum with the radio.

_

Skopje ili Beograd,

eventually I’ll choose

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Abandoned Buildings

Abandoned buildings,

shells of homes,

skeletons of yesterday.

_

Stone walls, chipped

and crumbled.

Wooden beams lay

decaying.

_

Abandoned buildings,

what was your heyday like?

_

And tell me please,

are we all

abandoned buildings in the making?

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How to Hate a Stranger

How to hate a stranger?

I’ll tell you how.

_

Stare into a photo

and see only conniving eyes.

_

Stalk the internet

searching for a reason.

_

Let the dark into your heart

and let your demons cry.

_

For to hate a stranger,

you must first hate

the self.

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Sometimes

Sometimes you’re on a bus,

between here and there.

_

Sometimes it’s drizzling,

or maybe raining.

_

Sometimes you’re surrounded by mountains,

dark and overwhelming.

_

Sometimes you’re in Bosnia,

or Serbia,

or somewhere in the middle.

_

Or sometimes you’re in Serbia…

In Bosnia…

Kurwa.

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Artsy Fartsy

She told me once,

Do something useful,

practical and sane.

_

Make yourself some money,

study hard and use your brain.

_

Don’t dally with the fairytales,

don’t trouble with make believe.

_

But whatever you do,

no matter what

Don’t be artsy fartsy.

_

So to my dismay,

and I’m sure hers too,

_

I spend most my time,

futzing with poetry n’ glue.

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Balkan Mountains

Floods breaking

from the backs of my eyeballs

held back only by will

made strong by a born stubbornness

 _

A heart destroyed,

but still loving.

A brain twisted,

but still thinking.

 _

Balkan mountains,

scary and noble,

flashing past…going, gone..

Is my soul within them?

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Peninsula of Haemus

Lighting here is crazy,

Flashing through the sky.

 _

It doesn’t have to be raining,

It could be totally dry.

 _

Balkan weather,

I’m just saying,

Is a little bit insane.

 _

I just pray,

whilst on this bus,

that lightning doesn’t strike us.

 _

But if it should,

a more dramatic death

I could not imagine…

 _

than a sudden, freakish death

by crazy Balkan lightning.

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The Poetry of Stone

The poetry of stone

is a somber one at best.

_

Hard and majestic

indelicate, not glass.

_

A river undisturbed

flowing through the mountains.

_

Quietly ignoring,

the poetry of stone.

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When the Sky Clears

When the sky clears

and lightning strikes no more,

 _

when the rain stops

and thunder disappears,

_

then the bridge is standing

noble between the hills.

 _

Then I kiss the floor

as I embarrassingly admit

 _

I was frightened of the storm,

lightning unveiling all my fears.

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The Shop Boy

“What’s your ethnicity?”- the dreaded question.

“Guess,” I say.

He smiles shyly from behind the metals

and says “Somewhere in Asia.”

_

I smile broad and then I chuckle,

he reddens but laughs along.

_

My mother is from Iran.

My father from Mexico.

I speak Assyrian-

a language from long ago.

_

He asks, “So are you a Muslim?”

and boy’ve I got a story to tell.

_

“My mother is a Catholic,

My father of Jehovah.

I’ve got a long lost grandmother,

a Muslim I was told.

Great Grandma celebrated

the Armenian traditions.

_

Great Grandpa, was a Communist

of the Orthodox religion.

So between the Catholic and the Muslim,

I’m sure that somewhere there’s a Jew.”

_

“There always is,” the shop boy says.

Then sobers n’ says real slow

“So in a way,

with your mix,

your just like Sarajevo.”

_

Thank you to the shop boy

who engraved my metalwares,

because now I know

I’ve got in me

a likeness to Sarajevo.

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To Remove the River from the City

They told me to forget,

that’s something I could never do.

They told me to move on,

to the memories I hold tighter.

_

They say all good things come to an end,

I rebuild old structures with ashy stones.

They say I must forgive,

and I have with all my heart.

_

To forget so great a love,

would be like removing the river from the city.

To move on without a passing glance,

would be to step on graves and monuments.

_

So I rebuild the haven of yesterday,

so one day when I look down,

the streets are laden with stones of memory,

and the walls with slabs of strength.

_

The roofs won’t cave,

for they’re held up by hearts that remember,

but are not weighed down with grief.

_

The steeple and the minarets,

and the temples too,

will house the shadows of the battles,

but will soothe the living through.

_

The city of yesterday, battle scars and all,

will stand up tall and stronger for its wounds.

_

So next time you tell me to forget,

to move on, to shed the memories and faults,

just know I won’t- I never will,

I’m building a glittering city in my heart.

_____

Summer 2014

The Liberated Polyglot

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