James Hannon



             Sarajevo Monday


Waken at dawn
to a muezzin's call
from a nearby minaret.
"Hayya alas Salah; Hayya alal Falah."
Hasten to prayer; hasten to success.
Prayer is better than sleep.

Follow footprints in the sand
of Sarajevo sidewalks
where mortar can still fall
from the walls above you,
to the market where mortars
lobbed from hillsides mingled
animal, vegetable, mineral.
Among your twenty questions-
Is it a species that kills for pleasure?

Those are roses painted
on sidewalks where victims fell.
That cemetery sprouts rows
of identical white stiles.

Now to the old town
where young Muslim women
have colored their hair
fuchsia, magenta, crimson.
Walk past ruins of a caravanserai
to the ancient bazaar cornered by
a cathedral, a mosque, a synagogue.

A collective effort feeds
these wild dogs at the market.
They seem wary of strangers
but they know their friends.

Walk down Ferhadija Street
to where you're welcomed into
the courtyard of the old mosque.
Please observe the symbols:
no smoking, no short skirts, no guns.

In a cafe on Dulagina Cikma
hear the death metal rap of Necro
"I'll hit that pussy up with a nasty attack"
followed by Marley's "One Love."

Up in the hills after-school children
play around a broken fountain.
Behind them eighty names
are carved in a marble wall--
wide-ranging birth years
and a three year range for deaths.
Abdullah, Rabia, Mohammad.

A chubby boy is teased by the others.
Two adults, maybe teachers,
encourage him to re-engage,
and stay to watch.
The children play again.


James Hannon, The Year I Learned the Backstroke, Aldrich Press, 2014.