Showing posts from October, 2013

Christians, Muslims, Brothers.

“Be careful, don’t be too friendly, they are still a bit closed minded,” warned a kindly traveler as I boarded a bus to Kosovo from Bulgaria. But nothing could have been further from the truth. There was something in the air in Pristina; I sensed it as soon as I stepped out of the station in Kosovo's capital.  Kosovo like the majority of its population is young –having only declared independence in 1998. The area has a history of religious tolerance but this doesn’t make the headlines. Conflict does, and territorial tensions down ethnic divides came to a head in the war of 1998 to 1999. This had left negative images in my mind that were not borne out by the helpful, polite and friendly people I met -particularly in Peja.

The western town of Peja lies at the foot of ravine cut mountains that rise abruptly from the flat plains of Kosovo. Travelling with a friend we were destined to visit the Serbian monastery of the Pec Patriacharchate but our driver insisted on taking us to see the …

Same Story, Different Time.

This poem was written during the Kosovo War in reponse to BBC radio reports. It attempts to acknowledge the shadow side of humanity yet still find room for hope.

The same sunk faces amassed on the borders, in the reserves, the refugee camps, the transit camps. The same loss etched in expression across Tibet, Rwanda, Kosovo. The same resonant legacy in the anguish of Auschwitz, Jericho, all along the Red Road.

The same ancient record played out, stuck in cyclical revenge. The same trust blinded by betrayal. The same forgotten humanity, The same dammed inhumanity. The same distorted belief that 'all delusion is in the minds of others!' The same rant restated:
To rob a people of their power cut their hair, To rob a people of their pride burn their homes, To rob a people of everything, take their land. 
In a different guise at a different time we have all stood in the stench of smoke and shit and death. Their loss is our loss, their present our past.

To heal is to look inward, as…

Mitrovica: Images from a town divided.

Mitrovica, Kosovo is a town divided: Serbs on the North side of the river, Kosovo Albanians on the south. 

A dead end to Dobrinovo

Down a dead end road in south-east Bulgaria lies Dobrinovo, a village seemingly in death throes. Along it`s grid system of roads house upon house lies dormant, derelict, slowly sinking into the thick clay it`s thin foundations were built upon. Brick walls have cracked and crumbled; rain pours through fallen roofs; sun shines through fallen ceilings. Amongst the collapse life continues: dogs do their duty, barking outside the houses still maintained; women chat in a small shop selling bare essentials; men fix an old car or chew the fat with friends. Chickens, sheep and goats meander along a stream sniffing out a subsistence living like their human counterparts. All the while a dedicated son spends the small sums of money he earns looking after his ageing father.

(Dobrinovo translates as 'kind place')

Dobrinovo`s decline marries communism`s. The village school closed some thirty years ago, the collective farm in 1989. Since then the trades associated with the workers: the baker, t…