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I think of Ibn Zahayr who shed the coat
Of disbelief for the holy mantle,
Whose verse was destined to be immortal
And he forever laurelled for what he wrote.
And al-Busiri strung his orbs of light
That breathed life into the lame and dead,
For this task he was raised and his fame spread;
He too won the cloak when asked to recite.
Before him Ibn Mashish from ʿAlam’s height
With the fire given him from Paradise
In turn set the Seven Heavens ablaze:
The Gate of Truth to each unlocked by praise
And to that same mantle I plead a right
That I recite before my master’s eyes.

The freshly blossomed orange forms an arch
To the entrance, the star-petalled jasmine
Fills the night, both flowers as white as starch,
As alluring, as enticing as sin.
Now is the season for lilacs to spring
And pave the way for budding lavender
And the colouring of everything
That makes idleness seem rich and tender.
I want none of it to fill my quiet
With noise, with helpless fleeting transience;
Let no pretty thing in me beget
That which weakens the aspirant’s defense.
Flowers should remind of death. The lilac
Reminds me of the beauty that I lack.

Bombs make headline news, militias are caught.
There are no families left unwithered
There are no men of letters or high thought
And what minds remain have now dithered.
We are too lame, our learning now too short,
Deafened by shouting, crippled in the haste,
Held to the ideologies they pay court
While the world seems left to squalor and waste.
But if we become wise in communion,
Renew vows to nature and man, and learn
To extend our minds, teach our souls, union
Rebuild at home and country, then in turn
Things may realign and Eden’s fruit be
Replaced upon mankind’s forbidden tree.

An Arab brags
of ancient glory and
his poetry and perfume.

He says I don’t understand Islam
(or poetry or perfume):
I am too mystical, too Christian.

He spends his night
with children reciting
the Quran on YouTube.

Poets who post poems.  Inquire inside.