Ana Marija Grbić | Serbia


my name is ahmo.
i was born two kilometers from sarajevo
in eighty-seven
i had the smallest sneakers in the world and
my mother’s name was selma and then she
like a sea urchin, she deflated into the sand
in front of the house
she had no entrails.

since then i also wear pants and everyone
calls me ahmo,
ahmo you look like your father, ahmo you’re a fine
young man,
ahmo what will the world say

around the house, around the yard, around the street,
around the mosque,
around the doghouse

ahmo have you ever kissed a boy
have you ever smoked pot
have you ever sat with your father at ramadan
emptied the room of air

counted days, counted hours, counted
minutes, counted

ahmo my son you’re a real mother’s bastard
my father calls me that,
rips the teeth from his jaw, throws them at me
gathers his fists back into his arms,
grows red like the sea, hisses like a snake
understands it all epically
sometimes lunches quietly and that’s when he’s at his
ugliest, because
he has no recourse but to be cross and
to break pictures of mother and sit on my
neck, as
i grow blind
our room slips under the nail and darkens
between the neighbour’s houses
ahmo grows his father’s tail between his legs and
makes himself into a man
the new millennium rocks our curtains
and each summer is warmer than the last and
the women are around the house, around the yard, around the street
around the mosque,
around the butcher shop

since then i also wear pants.


i’m almost thirty years old, my name is
i was born in belgrade [1987]
they often took me to the country in a hot
yellow yugo
the parents would turn me over to grandma and grandpa who
will soon die
from the blossoming of the brain, the narrow tissue
of the firm heart aorta, and

back then everybody said that old people
die naturally, and
i dreamed that my legs are growing together
becoming an imprint of a fish tail, and
for nights on end i’d only count the wooden
floor tiles
underneath the bed, nothing

and if but for once the beast had knocked
its horn against the door
rivers would flow, as it is
only the hauling sluggish cattle
no kind of man with the head of a donkey
anja’s good, the kindergarten teachers said,
only a little withdrawn, maybe she’s shy,
send her to acting classes
where i learned how to speak louder
in order to say less
and how my hair looks best over to
the left side.

that will do well enough for a life.