“Jan Palach was a Czech student of history and political economy at Charles University. He committed suicide by self-immolation as a political protest against the end of Prague Spring.”
Under a lean-to at the Occupy tent city
four thousand miles east from university,
I heard the snap and pop
of the campfire.
Smoke blackened my luggage wrinkled outfit:
tie dyed tee shirt, collar frayed,
denim skinny jeans
that cut off circulation to my crotch.
All afternoon I interviewed
the stilt-thin leader of the movement,
a lunchbox full of marijuana opened on his lap.
He never shared his joint.
I thought sacrifice
was eating ramen noodles with plastic forks,
while protesters listened to politicians
banter healthcare laws on boombox radios.
Along the cobblestone sidewalks
of Wenceslas Square,
verdigris memorials are arranged
in metal flocks like condors.
Communist Era bronze
preserved the flaccid penises
and puffy, squinted eyelids
metalworkers hammered into shape.
A pigeon held its pose
on an ashen colored cross
rooted like a gallows tree.
I read the dedication to Jan Palach.
One match lit my Lucky Strike,
then the wind bit and crumbled its charred remains.
My thoughts were with him.
I wished I had something of his courage.
About the author: Domenic Scopa is a recent graduate of Suffolk University and was recently accepted into the number one low residency MFA program in the country, Vermont College of Fine Arts, attending in June to attain an MFA in Poetry and Translation. He has worked closely with a number of accomplished poets including National Book Award Winner David Ferry and Washington Book Prize recipient Fred Marchant. He is currently the assistant poetry editor of Venture Literary Magazine and has been published in literary journals numerous times.