Friday, June 20, 2008

Lucky Shoes: R.I.P. Ibrahim Alickovic

Ibrahim Alickovic died March 10, 2008. This gentle, giving man was a survivor of the concentration camps in Bosnia, where he was imprisoned and suffered torture and state terror because he was Muslim and had "attributes of leadership." You can read a moving obituary to him by psychologist Alice Shaw at the Survivors International website. The following poem by Alickovic is taken from the same site.

(Lucky Shoes 43 1/2)

By Ibrahim Alickovic

To public opinion
Holding that prison camp is a secular hell
There were--in our camp--
Moments of pure joy.
As one day when
They collected us all in the yard.
Then the command:
Take off your shoes
All you mother-fuckers!

So. We would be barefoot at our own executions.
I trembled, counting time backward
To shorten the time.
The night was quiet.
And full of moonlight.
We fifty-two men without shoes.
There were eighteen of them--with their guns.

Nevertheless, it was not what we thought.
Instead of a shot in the head--
Two big boxes: a gift!
Each of us given a pair of
brand new black shoes.
Each of us equally fit with
the same size: 43 1/2.

Oh! the delight of those new shoes, my God!
Oh! how much more delightful
If some of the shoes had been bigger
Some just a bit smaller--
Still. The pure joy of it!

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