GUEST POST: murder in Slovakia / coffee in Canada

I have visited good friends in Bratislava for a number of years, always learning more and deepening my understanding of Slovaks and their country. My feeling for Slovakia grew out of friendship and carried its quality of pleasure and connection.

So it was a shock when I read about the deaths of Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová.

I had not thought of writing about the horrible moments of murder, but soon the poem began to arrive. It attempts to present the news from the point of view of those who live elsewhere and who are yet touched by the events.

murder in Slovakia / coffee in Canada

a young journalist and his fiancée
he, shot in the chest, she, in the head
and later her family buries her
in her wedding dress, far from
the grave of her husband-
never-to-be, now a corpse lowered
in his own birth village with many
weeping as well – and we who are safe
remember such news from other places
in other times, but the blood there is new

fraud, corruption, thugs, arrogance
the editorials cry out, outrage marches
all postscripts to personal horror
that final living moment of one who saw
the red star blossom on beloved flesh
and now civic catastrophe, citizens
and their families and freedoms
feeling a fierce protective pain

like that of the fiancée’s mother
who, worried, called the police
who found the bodies days after death
in the village only a short drive
from the capital where later
the prime minister stacks one million euros
on a table, reward for info leading –
perhaps back to himself?

in a cafe here I ask the Czech barista
if she’s heard, and she has not
and when I explain briefly
she sweeps my question away, dismissing
that country east of her interest, busy
with us, customers chatting calmly
about families, sports, pets
travel south to the sun
no future tense cold with threat
no need for our hearts to beat
with unwavering valour

David Zieroth is a Canadian poet who visits Slovakia often and whose latest book is The bridge from day to night -