bosnia report
New Series No. 8 January - March 1999

by Chris Agee

  1. Talk of Bosnia; a table loaded with bottles.
    The Irish for minaret, solar plexus?

    Is this the unrhapsodized gloss on Achilles,
    burnt limewash and sugan, a tidal wave of killings?

    Hale fellows make a teach-an-asail of cabbage beds.
    Cashel's turfsmoke twisting and a spit in the wind.

    Old Sarajevo! Tomorrow, the Shell-pump's sunny vista.
    Past cre na cille the living debate the dead.

  2. Her brother's basket 'an ark of bullrushes'
    Daubed with Nile mud, pitched with bitumen,

    Lowered and balanced, then launched like a pippin
    In a brow of ripples, Miriam 'stood afar off,

    To wit what would be done to him.'
    The same old story, males on the rampage,

    Herods out-Heroding Herod: it is Bethlehem
    It is Bosnia all over. The Nez Perce.

    Run to a last creek in the badlands, the pantaloons
    Of country women in the woods of Srebrenica.

  3. Six peals from the Liberties. Christ Church
    Floodlit, the Iveagh Flats slumbering

    In the streetlamps of morning dusk. Why,
    When I think of us then, the covenant of linens,

    Intimate strangers, do I see in the same breath
    The sad towerblocks of Sarajevo,

    The siege-gardens, the trenches, the call
    Of the muezzin, leaving the pillow's warmth

    For the melancholy of a dawn's dark window
    Jambed with gold like an O'Malley plane?


    Sugan: rope used in thatching;
    Teach an asail: idiom for toilet;
    Cre na cille: a churchyard;
    O'Malley; the Irish painter Tony O'Malley (b. 1913)


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