January 21, 2011 – a Poem in Three Parts


For Albania
The brave 200,000 protesters of January 21,2011
The four innocent victims
And my brother


My teething seven month old son
rubs his raw gums against my shoulders
the very instant I spot on live Albanian TV
among 200,000 protesters
the hoodie I bought my brother last month
at little five points in Atlanta, Georgia

even in a crowd that size it’s hard to miss:
oversized, red, and with Bob Marley’s big grin on it

I spot him seconds before another woman’s brother
standing next to him, shatters by the sharp bite
of a sniper bullet to his head.

There are no words to describe my baby’s shrill
as I jump, as snakebitten, at the sight of Bob Marley’s portrait
on my brother’s chest, soiled with the blood and brains
of another woman’s brother
whose head my brother cradles in his palms
the way he once held two stolen pomegranates
from our next door neighbor’s orchard
juice running down his elbows.

I am late for work.
In America, I make my living as a seamstress
so, unlike me, my children will be able to turn off the horror
with the TV; I want them to be American like that.

Today I sew a crimson dress for an old actress
starving herself back into youth.
In the fitting room she keeps fidgeting in front of the mirror
complaining about her body.
Something inside me unsnaps.
I am unable to grab a hold of myself or the hem of her garment
I prick my fingers again and again with a sharp, steel needle.
The blood sprouting from my fingertips dampens her cloth
the tears collapse in the square of my face
as her words scatter like empty gun shells.
She says to me:
“Don’t worry, sweetheart.
It’s just red on red.
No one is going to notice it”.


After hearing on TV
names of Albanian poets and journalists,
my four year old daughter wants to know:
” what is a coup d’etat?”

I tell her, just like Kim Kardashian
some people are famous for all the wrong reasons.


Dear brother,

the next time the tyrant aims his bayonets
to the sky’s abdomen
and empties his guns in the mouths of dissidents
until the heels of God bleed the bodies of the innocents
on our barricaded doorsteps

the next time you are reporting live on air
and they storm down your radio station,
drag you out by Bob Marley’s dreads on your favorite hoodie
limbs snapping down the hallway like old vinyl records
as the cop, your childhood friend curses you out
Using your sister’s and mother’s real name

The next time you are in a public square
when 2,600 rounds of live ammunition are fired on the crowd
and one of those bullets gets tempted by your chest
bellowing like an accordion, singing redemption songs

sweet brother, darling of my soul, remember:



The fuzz on the edges of static.
We are red on red.
No one’s going to notice.

The following video contains graphic images from the events of January 21, 2011.

 For more info or to get involved visit  www.actalbania.org 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s