Poems around the fire pit.
Here behind the bonfire where I loiter
veiled by flaring tongues
and crackling sparks,
with florid wordage and gesticulations
will I transmit elaborate tales
of sultans and thieves, coistrels and lazars,
beasts and demons, each in lurid detail.
Desert warriors! Lend me your rapt attention
as you recline on cushionets,
sipping from goatskins, nibbling labneh;
while logs glow let me regale you
with nostalgic recollections,
momentous quests, arduous journeys,
and the vagaries of chance and circumstance,
until night’s shawl retreats before the sunburst
…and even as you squint I vanish.
Let us now in secret begin
our nocturnal discourse,
spinning stories beneath stars,
weaving narrative threads at night.
I mean by moonlight to escalate
our own spiritual osculation
via cushion conversation:
pillow-talk me to rapture.
I’ll entice you with tales
of heroes and rogues;
I’ll entrance you with legends
abounding in magic and wonder,
if you swathe me in fantasy
then envelop me in fable
till I am wholly unable
to tell truth from lore.
While the palm wine flows
oral lore spills from moistened lips,
a steady drip of fantasy and myth,
of dreams adopted and abandoned.
Emirs and sheikhs spout boastful verses
of deeds and pledges,
passionate rhymes from clannish warriors
aching for the battlefield, lording over the desert.
Between fingered clumps of spiced rice and mutton
nomad elders nod and mumble,
immersed in memory’s pool, marveling and amused
at how yesteryear’s desires live on in tomorrow’s oaths.
The chamber was perfumed with musk and amber,
the palm wine laid out;
with the cloop of a cork, the soirée began.
Three guests and one ululating musician
partook in the richness of each other’s company;
arak circulated among the bibulous
as the poet recited a heartfelt ode
describing the saliva of his beloved.
Dates and dolmades made the rounds,
greasing our fingertips
as we glimpsed moonrise through the window.
Under night’s murk, all inhibitions eased.
We were then in the heaven of happiness;
at length we spoke of love, the language of paradise.