A sliver of slivovitz

is all it takes for Vasali

to dance a kazatska.

Barrel-chested and muscular,

sinewy arms tattooed

with a tank and Big Bertha.

Dancing, he wipes a dribble

of matjes herring from his lips

with the back of his hand.

He is red in the face,

as if he’s trekking around

the lush green scenery

of glacial lakes

and Dalmatian pelicans

on the Carpathian mountains.

He hears the distant wail

of a muezzin in a minaret,

but he listens to his

God’s trumpets.

He answers. He had a long life.

After 40 years of shlepping bombs

at the Picatinny Arsenal,

he’s ready: a last meal of schnitzel,

verenikas and mamaliga.

In spite of labored breathing,

he assumes position like a squat bull,

and as he kicks and thrusts,

he manages to smile

as he thinks of braless women

whose kisses he never resisted.