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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.

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