For Yugoslavia’s More Fortunate Ones

[audio link]

You killed time, and your livers, under viaducts,
vigilantes of underpasses in thick vinegar haze,

puking by the roadside over tin foil, empty bottles,
toilet paper tubes, buttercups, morning glories.

Days welded. Onions sweated in wood crates
at the market. Fish gutted, their scales

thrown back to the sea—that lax bluish rag
between the port and smokestacks. The burn off.

You watched busses start routes at 5 a.m.,
considered yourselves above the proletariat

that waited somber under fiberglass stops
for the busses’ concertina doors to take them,

then watched those soot-crusted vehicles
bend through intestinal streets—past posters

of Yugoslav bands, their multiethnic disco quaver,
past the greenery of dumpsters. You, vigilante

drifters at school parks under the carob trees,
habitually fucking on beds of sun-scorched papers.

And you, stooped by the betting shop—on its walls
the fixed smile of Lady D, yellowed centerfolds,

Sabrina splashing about in her white bandeau bikini.
Remember that Roma boy who, for years, offered

Dobra pička to passersby, his sister—a reasonably priced
premenstrual pussy—the two of them, arms linked,

beautiful together, like two black orchids?

—Andrea O’Rourke, Atlanta, GA