In this grey town, Popa’s
‘white bone among the clouds’
the buildings stand still
like shocked witnesses.
Pigeons coo in the ruins of a high rise.
Amid dandelions and debris
a security guard dozes in the sun
in his hand a cigarette smokes itself . . .
pigeons overhead, ash in his lap.
Refugees sell Lucky Strike
and Marlboro smuggled in from Kosovo
they cane smell a cop a mile off
can disappear in a blink.
They are the invisible people
they are the dirty laundry
in Milosevic’s basket piled underground
far from the hole in the wall
where he drops his bundle.
Meanwhile, in full light of public eye
Slobo’s making links
crossing bridges he’s rebuilt
bragging of progress
to visitors from the East.
Everybody’s working on an exit scheme.
In an internet café a guy with dreads
extrapolates the physics of tofu
to a blonde bombshell
who’s sipping Nescafé — the latest thing
to hit Belgrade since the air raid.
On a street corner a woman, barefoot
sings old socialist songs —
Druze Tito mi ti se kunemo
da sa tvoga puta ne skrenemo . . .
Nostalgia tugs at the heart of a man passing by
the heart which lies behind ‘I Love USA’
rebellious on his t-shirt
and he drops a Deutschmark
at the altar of her feet. She kisses him
not for the Deutschmark but for paying his respects.
A red smudge brands his forehead
like once a star.