Sophocles in Sarajevo

Here unbeliever
here in the land where young ones never grow old
You have reached our noble hell on earth. Look
Sarajevo, bloodsoaked now, majestic during one winter of propaganda
when the nations gathered together.
The cellist, his music rising above the markers
stopped, hovering over the prayers
and followed the alley ways deepening with rubble.

The spider haunts the field, the broken trees
their fruits stolen, birds without a home
the air rich with the perfume of gunpowder
where children gather to play
killed forever
where bearded trolls do a circle dance
round their recent sacrifice.

And here we stand shivering
fed by UN rations
lovely, freeze dried, fresh forever
powdered eggs, dry milk and no water
heroin smuggled into the city
nectar of escape.
Mother and child, not yet two,
into a screaming terror
and the flying shells burst like the break of a boil onto the marketplace
and some will always sleep
heir traces washed away with a firehouse
and some will never wake up to our betrayal.

We welcomed you, peasant son, with open hands
when you brought your goats from Montenegro
a gift of plague bestowed upon our city.

Your belle grad, your white fortress darker every day
the death knell rings: Slobodan,
your name means "freedom"
what Balkan irony
your barbarism rising over the Drina's banks
flowing over to the villages onto the other side
can the vampires bear to leave this land
or Mars, the god of war
holding the reins of Plato's horses.

Marko Zlomislic was born in Mostar, Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1966 and came to Canada with his parents in 1970. He is the Editor of Joyful Wisdom: a journal for postmodern ethics.