you arrived in kochani life-bruised and hung-over
lucky to have escaped the clutches of bureaucracy

the festival of mute poets barely a memory (lines
nothing compared to roadside fields of rice (flags

the evening's cool remedy: couples walking beside 
a tiny river (readings in a childrens' park where

swings & miniature trains reminded you of certain 
times when a swing was all you needed those times 

before words took over the ends of which found you
projecting your voice into darkness just a single 

бакнеж your only weapon in a war where disarming  
complete strangers was your only aim two girls in 

nosija dress were happy to pose for a photo or two
but were too short for you to put your arms around 

them even though that was all you wanted to do (to
shield these two girls who could be your daughters 

from all that the night drunk on itself could have 
thrown at them | there on the stage under arc-lights

right in front of the camera while you stood there 
waiting for a flash to go off you felt a small arm

curl itself around the small of your back & in that
instant you wanted to bawl & missed your imaginary

daughter so much she was almost real (the way flags
make real the grand but obscure desires of nations

or even towns that want to be nations (lonely like 
lost swallows in the dead season their flightpaths

like tracer bullets in the soft but lonely sky (so
you bawled your words at the tidy darkness anyway

kissed the invisible city with your lips wide open
then turned your back on the figments of applause

only to be offered a bottle of cola by the girl in 
the nosija dress whose cheeks were as rouge as ads 

for products that no longer existed (like the cola
which was a local brand you clearly weren't meant

to recognise but which tasted sweeter even than
that childhood you never thought you'd ever miss

Express yourself