Simoom & Sirocco

                    To a handsome Assyriologist—

                              on translating some tablets
                                        unearthed by the author
                                                  from the dusty depths
                                                            of his private collection—

                                                  this poem is humbly offered.

                              i. Simoom

A plague of winds descends on men,
     creaking cedar splits, marks the spot,
     buries what soft whispers caution

     against, secrets dropped, lost in sand
     moments apart, inscribed walls talk
     a plague of winds, descend on men

     and carry them on horizons
     gasping, leaving them where zealots
     bury what soft whispers caution

     Bedouin tribes not awaken—
     a grave where thirsting souls stir up
     a plague of winds these hands often

     have reached in, stealing voices pens
     touch to wet hard stone hearts cannot,
     furious hot whispers caution

     balks at, truths too true to silence,
     mouths that, listened to, summon up
     a plague of winds, these sounds strong men
     bury, tongues soft whispers caution.

                              ii. Sirocco

A stench of sin stains innocence,
     tongues of flame taste courses blown off
     when angels inhale its fragrance

     lurking in shadows of ruins,
     pestilence prowls paths pilgrims walk,
     a stench of sin stains innocence

     when, from within, a storm calls them,
     offering a feast of hints dropped
     when angels inhale its fragrance,

     rose water and siren song scent
     that desert dying fathers stalk,
     a stench of sin stains innocence

     as they come up, apparitions
     pleading like pale visions to stop
     when angels inhale its fragrance—

     lambs led to slaughter, those children
     noon’s sweating hands roast, love where not
     a stench of sin stains innocence
     when angels inhale its fragrance.