Busting and Booming in Bratislava

Askold Skalsky

After forty years of being denied

a four-door Chevy

stereo speakers

coffee from Columbia

and the New York Times

Jiri and Milena

bought each other a pair of pistols

for Christmas

she a sleek Luger

and he a much improved Strakovitz

double-action automatic

with a barrel hinge at the muzzle

to permit ease of cleaning


on St. Nick's Eve

when the streets thronged with

figures in velvet masks

cardboard costumes

and painted heads

a moose pounded on the Svobodas' door

and when Jiri opened it

stabbed him with a knife blade

chipped in two places


his daughter screamed

and tried to pull her father

from the doorway

but the moose cut her in the arm

until finally an almost hysterical

wife came running

out of the kitchen

and brained the aggressor

with a bottle of Russian vodka.