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The False Prophets I Have Known:

An Ode to al-Mutanabbi


I have known deserts:

I have whispered the names of their winds,

And touched the thumbless hands of their ghosts.


I have known nights:

Where sand crept unbidden into my mouth

And I slept with a dune for a bed and a blanket of stars.


I have known horses:

Who trampled a free, gray world

And grazed on the scraps of green in a sea of brown.


I have known the sword:

That cut the courage of man,

And haunted a city of fire at night.


I have known Books:

Spoken through the lips of prophets,

With poetry miraculously wrought and delivered.


I have known a pen:

Held by the hand of forgotten scribes,

That dripped the words of God like ebon honey.


I have known the spear:

That spat a thousand rounds of fire,

Each launched through the sky with the force of a bullet;


I create poetry:

My words are read by the blind.

And hearkened by the deaf.



Oh Muhammad, Where do we go?


Une autre connaissance"

-A Tuareg in Timbuktu discussing how blind guides navigate the desert.


Ya, M’hamed, wayn namshi?

I asked,

Ila l-ufq

He replied

Wa hata 'l-abad


Over the desert we walk

Over endless, bleeding sands.

Until the end of the world,

We trudge the barren, dusty ground.


With every step our feet are tougher

Along with the dark’ning skin of our hearts.

We embark on a pilgrimage to remember

What we as the unfaithful forgot.


We are lost in the rocky trub

Where we yearn for water as blue as her eyes

Where we hide from a sun burnished like her hair

Where we left the straight path leading to Wangaran gold.


Oh my guide, Blind Muhammad,

Where do we go?


Ya, M’hamed, wayn namshi?

I asked,

Ila l-ufq.

He replied,

Wa hata 'l-abad.


To the horizon, was his answer.

Until forever.



The Night of Power


 “Between the idea/ And the reality/ Between the motion/ And the Act/ Falls the shadow”

-"The Hollow Men," T.S. Eliot


"We sent it on the Night of Power,

What shall I tell thee of the Night of Power?

The Night of Power is better than months a thousand,

The Spirit and angels descend on it, harkening their Lord’s every command,

It is peace until dawn’s fire."


Lightning strikes in the absence of thunder.

Wind strongly blows, a silent howl.

Air is heavy, eternally waiting for rain.

Night is dark: a bright, inky softness.

In the woods, trees crack with no hand to break them.

All while we dance in the Night of Power.


The wind blows a caressing touch,

While the earth moans from her body.

The leaves shudder in quivering tremors,

While silence charms anticipation.


We act with tremendous temper,

In the moment before the climax:

This is the instant of our infinity,

The joy of our union with Chance:

Why, this is the Night of Power!



Scene from Reporting: AFGHAN INTERPRETER FUNERAL UNATTENDED. An Afghan interpreter is killed. He is denied a cleric, there is no mullah. At his funeral he is called an infidel by the person presiding. His mother is the only person present to hear the words.


Over the dust-blown field flies a white vict’ry flag.

Its staff is a twisted, knotty stick.

Draped in a billowing burqa, a mother hangs limp as a rag,

As the wind harasses her with a thousand careless flicks.


Over a hole in the ground a reviling condemner looms.

As he speaks, the word ‘apostate’ is spat at a buried son.

Stunned and alone, the mother encompasses earthly doom.

Grieving and reviled, her tears groovéd courses run.


Denied a cleric, mourners and funeral feast,

A victim cowers cold in colder earth.

Huddled against a barren, rotting corporeal disease,

His corpse prays against curses for eternal release.



To Chloris from an Archer in the Forest, Beside the Sea


Willowy and blonde

Woolened and stockinged

Long legs, velvet black boots

Folded each over other.


Her head reclined,

Leaning into her drawing.

Chocolate steamed over

Rich, brown, sea foam.


Slim fingers drew

Circles round the table,

Shorelines tracing,

As I sat beside the ocean’s length,

A chair away.


Her curly-massed, hanging-heavy hair,

Hid my stare

From her eyes,

Until she looked up


I glanced away.


But not fast so I failed to see

Her coal-black lashes arc bow-like to heaven

From light purple painted seas

Floating on a face pearly-mooned

Drooping from the cypress tree


I stared into an empty cup,

My mouth arméd to speak,

Disarméd to silence,

Her beauty too fairly far to grasp.


Her gaze removed,

A moment’s length,

I knocked my arrow, armed again

Prepared to shoot

Once more the cupid bow.


As great the distance was

And my arm weak

I held to make my sure aim,

Enjoying her beauty


(My arrow was crook’d, in truth,

And I sought my mind

For smooth words

Or smoother, my poem-like)


I shot my gun

And it arched eye-brow-like

From heaven to moon,

But missed its willow cypress,

Hanging hair


She long left had

Uncrossed her legs

Removed her paper

Drank her chocolate

Lowered her pen

And passed her door.


My aim struck


An empty chair

An empty heart.





Noontime midnight

Snow making night bright

Lunar mirror

*             *             *



Blanketing the air

Fluid breathing





The cups of pleasure and of pain,

Are two cups of wine the same.

When we drink them, we too are drunk.

And so we drink them o’er and o’er again.


*          *          *


Hope dangles at the end of a rope

As well as high o’er a mountain pass.

One can climb to the top of hope,

As well as fall to the last g asp.

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