Traveling across open flatland toward Štimlje the ground begins to rise.
Driving on through the tight enclosed lanes of the town to the far side as if to leave,
a battered overgrown compound looms into view, its heavy mesh fences collapsing and dilapidated in parts.
This is Štimlje Mental Asylum. The patients are unable or unwilling to leave, they have been abandoned left to fend for themselves or die.
The staff have fled because this is a war zone.
Snow lays in muddy patches around about, stained with shit and blood.
A slug-like legless form drags itself through excrement seemingly going nowhere fast,
its insane leer and wolf-like howling splits the cold air, this thing is human.
We continue systematically on foot, through unlit grey buildings and rooms, behind each door a shocking portal to another circle of hell.
Women, children, half animals, intermittent screeching barking and yelps.
Self harming, open wounds, and the gut wrenching stench of filth.
In one room no bigger than a single garage space, at least fifty naked forms stand silently shivering.
They stare out of hollow skulls straight through me as I stand silhouetted in the doorway.
They seem to be mostly men its hard to tell, their emaciated bodies look sexless.
Upon closer inspection there are a few women present, Jesus! What might have happened to them in here? Their hair is matted in clumps.
There were just four of us a small recce team we could do nothing we had nothing, we were staring into hell and were struck dumb by it.
We drove in Silence back to Pristina not one single fucking word.
I was strong, fit, able in mind and body. I was in my late thirties and this wasn’t my first war.
I got back to a quiet place and hid myself, I cried and shook like a pathetic child, big tough fucking soldier eh?
And sometimes that is how war fucks you, slowly. Either that or you get blown to shit.
Who would write poetry about that?
© Wolfgar 2018