Greet the summers of childhood and stone.
Greet the the’s the a’s the an’s the tongue
sifted through and outspit.
I went to sheets with a new language
and my old country sighed.
In it I had discovered the lonely thrill, much too inadequate
for a body that hairs.
Hirsute-me surfaced in Kentucky.
Whoever speaks of satisfactory humpty-dumpty within frenzy of
nationalism is a fool.
I left the sea.
Before I left the sea, I left the mountains.
For my country contains twain: place of birth
and place of bath.
Blessed small me, Tito’s pioneer, poking holes
in Herzegovina’s valleys and dales, adding to the volume
of the Adriatic.
Adriatic: like a sibling. For twenty years I’ve failed to adjust
to Morton salt.
I carried in my left pocket the tears the country
packed. Tried to cry my own but Brandon and Kelly and Beverly
Hills occupied the rest. I couldn’t help it, country.
You were something of a scandal.
Do you miss me as much as I think
about you? The jigs of history made you younger
than me. You pluck me dry of wise, feed me
breath of cigarettes, sludge coffee, lambs.
Where lie the days when you and I were one,
when letters united the scout with his notional womb?
Passed is passed, but the passing lasts.
Alen Hamza immigrated to the United States as a refugee from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is the author of Twice There Was a Country (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, forthcoming 2020), selected by Brenda Hillman for the CSU Poetry Center First Book Award. His poems have appeared in Fence, AGNI, Narrative, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. He is a PhD candidate in literature and creative writing at the University of Utah. (updated 4/2020)