Seige of Sarajevo

Kenny Tanemura


How easily you could have been on the wrong side of a room, open to a sniper’s view, appearing through a scope illuminated by a tritium plate. Or seen by a Chetnik in a tank on the hills surrounding Sarajevo.  

How easily you could have been caught under a bus turned over by artillery fire on a road that leads to Old City. It would have taken only an error in the time of day, the time it takes to send a bullet into the bend of wind.

How easily you could have been watched by a Serb in a sniper’s nest, leering through a slit between two apartment windows, the sound of a shot like a sledgehammer striking an aluminum wall. 

Instead, blood from a boy’s head made another shape next to him on the ground, his alternate.  


You said night looked like blue blobs of light in war: bloated stars. I watched it on television with a native’s dapper rhythm. 

You could have been a sculptor in Sarajevo, instead of counting pills in a hospital in San Francisco. 

A prayer in Arabic, covering and clasping. 

Instead, you curse drivers in a language you adopted out of a need to work. 

Long hours chopping, testing the temperature of food.

Kenny Tanemura is a graduate of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Purdue University.