Today’s poem is inspired by Damir Avdić and his Detroit, and he took me into my old open house.
Prompt 10: “First, find a song with which you are familiar … Listen to the song and take notes as you do, without overthinking it or worrying about your notes making sense. Next, rifle through the objects in your junk drawer. … On a separate page from your song-notes page, write about the objects in the drawer, for as long as you care to. Now, bring your two pages of notes together and write a poem that weaves together your ideas and observations from both pages.”
Well, I did choose a song and then it did all the rest. I should translate this song in full one day. Listen to the man from Bosnia, Damir Avdić, even if you don’t understand him. Let the beat into your bones, and then you’ll be ready for my poem which could be much longer than it is.
America Detroit is a ten-minute story of a man who drops the guns, leaves the Balkans behind and ends up in Motor City, MC5, living in the suburbs among people of a different race who respect him even though he blasts Napalm Death and women love his Shetland sweaters. His main problem is his compatriots who play tsuup tsuup turbo folk to him everywhere he goes, bad covers of Bella ciao, and call it sevdah and ethnic. It makes me think of my America. The night before my departure I stay awake because the early flight is from Klagenfurt in Austria hours away. We arrange a taxi who comes early and the driver is let in. No booze for him but we celebrate. Full open house as usual, even though I’m still to buy the OPEN HOUSE sign in Los Angeles, bring it under my arm on the plane, and place it against the kitchen window. But now I’m yet to depart. As many times before, the bell rings and everybody knows it’s the police and they hand me parcels packages boxes. I have a drawer where I put them among lingerie and stockings. (Ah, junk drawer! I thought you said junkie.) The policeman enters – the walls are thin and my neighbour is a numerologist – and I explain to him that I’m leaving for AMERICA! That it’s my first time, and the tourist visa I scored will be my favourite book mark for decades. That Los Angeles is waiting to be discovered. I’ll discover that Venice Beach has friendlier cops, Mr. Cop, but you are alright. Now leave, we need to go. He leaves and everybody collects their packs from the drawer. We reach Klagenfurt but it’s so early that the tiny airport is still locked. It’s December and we are dressed for California. Now, almost thirty years later, it has turned out that my California is closer than I’d thought. In Tuscany the flora is similar, bella ciao is just a greeting, and the junkie drawer is full of junk.
In the photo part, I return to the house in Bežigrad, Ljubljana, where I lived for some twenty years. Most of these photos were taken a year after I moved out and we were visiting. I don’t have any photos from the wild years here with me. Probably for the better.
This day in my NaPoWriMo history (2018):
For this poem to make sense, you’ll have to click on the link above and see these smiles for yourself.
Miles of smiles Take one smile that you know well, add another that made you you, cry for this smile since it quickly melts, hope all could smile as these two do. Find a random joyful girl or two and another one who gives good kale, one whose smile guards a statue store, one that was happy but lives no more. A smile is to get this book in the mail, or hers with advice to follow your heart, he did it – though happy hippie he’s not, and so did I, bestia and poems and all.