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


Abandoned Buildings

Abandoned buildings,

shells of homes,

skeletons of yesterday.


Stone walls, chipped

and crumbled.

Wooden beams lay



Abandoned buildings,

what was your heyday like?


And tell me please,

are we all

abandoned buildings in the making?


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.



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…



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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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