December 2015-February 2016

The Middle East was geographically far removed from South America, my home ground. What, then, inspired me to write the poems of this posting?

Aladdin on a Divan Overshadowed by Herr Doktor Freud  was written in 1988 soon after I moved to Brazil. It was my first published poem. A decade later, without any before thoughts, I wrote Arabic Numbers.  The most recent of the trio, The Main Attraction in Marrakesh, was written in 2014.

 

Aladdin on a Divan Overshadowed
by Herr Doktor Freud

Spot the lamp.
Ogle it.
Then ease into
the tent’s roomy gloom…

Now try your memory.

Start where the oasis
stands at the foot
of the horizon,
highlighted by half a sun
going under
while you’re bent on
sipping spring water
well before darkness.
When it comes
fallen palm fronds
make a mattress
soft enough
for slumbering
under a sheet of stars.

Later, a dream shows up.
It looks like an empty tent
with only a lamp
dangling from the ceiling.
You’re told to enter
through a voice
without a head or tail.
It’s a genie’s,
openly spouting off
about what’s his rub,
and why he wants a stroking.

That’s where you come in,
a child of the desert
with sand in your ears,
armed with a helping hand.
So far, are we in sync, Mr. Aladdin?
Furthermore, was backtracking
the right way
to run today’s session?

Once upon a time
you were gifted with granted wishes
which, in this case,
paired your youth
into before and after.
As such, the latter’s become
a no lad’s land.
Until you’re man enough
to tell the difference,
I’ll sit in for the genie–
grow a grey goatee.

First published in  Poetry Magazine

 

Arabic Numbers

 

At the back
               of the patio
I pat the concubine
        with such a light touch
that her skirt neither
        wrinkles nor rustles.
Then I vanish
                behind a curtain,
reappearing in a lamp-lit parlor
where, on the floor,
                there´re pillows for visitors,
                a sofa for the host.
A eunuch ushers me to mine. This time
             it’s lying
                beside the musicians.

The guests’ re friends,
neighbors, merchants from his oasis,
drinking tea, eating sweets, waiting
for the sand to fill an hourglass.

Our sheik´s the richest in Tunis.
Every month he gives away
                        a girl from his harem
                        and two gold rings
to whoever she chooses.
But before that her dancing must make
            his heart beat like a tambourine,
                  ours like hyenas in heat.
Tonight he´s promised to unveil
                                            an Egyptian.

I see a face in the hourglass,
       hear her whisper my name,
               and in the same breath, seven.

 

The Main Attraction In Marrakesh

 

On weekdays, as a rule,
the market opens
after morning prayers,
closes before evening call…                          

The old wall looks like a floor
covered with rugs in a range
of sizes, shapes, magic colors.
Whenever the wind blows,
they wave for attention.

Perfume vendors mind booths
lined with shelves.
They sell by scent, amount,
choice of bottle.
Each promises more
than he can deliver.

The spice stalls make
breathing a pleasure.
Deep draughts, one
after another, bring out
their best and worst.

In a tent armed with guards,
there’s much to see,
but not touch.
Glass counters, aisle
by aisle, showcase rare gems,
jewels fit for a sheik.

Tourists are always welcome,
even those who only
browse, complain about
the dust and heat.
Shoppers with hard currency
can buy whatever they want
without haggling.

2 comments to December 2015-February 2016

  • A unique perspective on Aladdin! I enjoyed all three poems and wondered about the significance of “seven” in Arabic Numbers.

    • mich9997

      Liz,
      I’m preparing the June posting of Three by 3 and lo/behold I discovered your comment. Many thanks. And without another second lost, the veils were poetic invention, though I think there were seven in Salome’s performance.
      My best to you and your creative doings. Anything you would like me to read? Michael

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