The Falcon

(imitation of 12th century Arab-Sicilian)

I owned a falcon whose wings were long,
An Emir’s gift for a marriage song.

She was like the shadow of a palm leaf in flight–
And in repose, like the shadow of a slender blade.

She was like the shadow of fire on smoke,
A sunbeam surging through clouds.

Her blood-feathers opened to my caress,
Her eyes quickened the embrace of death.

O falcon, bride of hunger and light,
You have risen like the risen sea and are gone.

Thank You, Poetry

Thank you, poetry, for my father’s barbershop,
For the barber chairs and soap machines,
For the windows and mirrors, for it being downtown,
For the movie theater and marquee next door,
For opening nights and the Saturday matinee.
Thank you for the barbershop magazine rack,
For the hours I had to read and wait,
Mirrors sinking my thoughts into dreams.
Thank you, poetry, for the weight of scissors,
For the fragrances of Clubman hair products,
For the sounds of the razor on the strop,
For the razor on the back of the neck,
For the hot towels and sting of aftershave.
Thank you for the bus rides downtown,
For my mother helping my father close
So we could all go home together.
Thank you, poetry, for the magic
Of those mirrors, for the poetry hidden there,
For letting this quiet boy, the son of a barber,
Experience something of your presence
Among such humble things.

Mercy for Mercy

Salvatore Ala

for Ashraf Fayadh

Once flowers blossomed in the text,
Words were like petals on water,
Walls whispered in Andalusian script
And paradise on earth was whole.

So if a poet is to be executed
Language grows a stronger root.
The channel of living water
Runs the length of the palace.

So if a poet is to be executed
The sacrifice of one magnifies
The charity of the harvest
For those who are hungry to learn.

The example of the faithful
Who waste a seed of mercy
Is to lose the seven stalks
From which a hundred grains fall.

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