Atop a cliff overlooking the Adriatic Sea, along the Dalmatian Coast, is a highway.  The bus from Budva to Dubrovnik winds its way north, dividing its span between small villages slightly inland and mountain goat’s eye views of coastal towns and the deep blue over 100 feet below.  It is a trip too fascinating to be frightening.  Along the way I met a man named Tom and his lady friend B; Cambodian Australians from London.  Walking along the street I have heard Italian, Russian, German, French, Croatian, English, British English, and a number of other tongues I haven’t the knowledge to identify.


The sun was near setting as I made my way past the touring/restaurant barges moored along the eastern shore of Uzala Gruz (Gruz Bay).  By the time I made it to the top of the hill between the neighborhood of Gruz and that of Grad, I only had ten minutes to satisfy my fascination with a great-walled cemetery.  The tombs, it would seem, are available for purchase from time to time as old bodies make room for the new.  One granite box might have the name of over two-dozen people etched into the side of it; listed sequentially by year of death.  


The sun was down as I made my way to Grad, Old Town the maps call it.  There I found the streets crowded with tourists and the sights beyond counting.  There is less statuary in Dubrovnik than in Rome, but the idea seems to be the same.  It is a stone stacked treasure house, a living masterwork of vision and prestige.  Walking around I felt like a peasant seated at his first lavish banquet; not knowing which of the nine eating utensils to pick up first.  


I took to wandering, mostly, heading up or down whichever small corridor or alley way held promise of being less discovered by the throng.  Some solace was at hand.  A nearly abandoned courtyard with a great fountain of spitting fish.


The bitter piece of coast between Old Town and the Fort Lovrijenac.


The color shifting passway under the bridge into the fortress.


But soon, back inside the city called Old Town, I happened upon a church with piped chanting echoing overhead, and I sat.  


Put my hat on the

Knee of a leg crossed

Listening to squabbling nesters

In the fine stone arches

Of your house

The Latin chant rings

In the sorting my mind needs

Put away my camera

And pick up a coin with a 

Fish to worry with 

My thumb

From one of the rose 

Marble squares quilting

The checkers under foot


This is a mish-mash house

Bits of treasure

A dozen centuries of craft

Humans well meaning

Like the chirping rafter rats 

Pecking a nest together

Out of rich loose findings


Joshua Hughes