Monday, December 02, 2002

Geldings, by Alan Sullivan

They used to celebrate only three things:
the birth of a boy, the emergence of a poet,
and the foaling of a blood mare.
-Ibn Rashiq

Because they loved their horses
more than their swaddled wives,
they sang the poets' praises
of brief but impassioned lives
while squatting on their hassocks
and plucking polished ouds
or loading shot in flintlocks
to settle tribal feuds.

Today their grim descendants
truck-bomb embassies
to prove their independence
from Satanic dynasties,
yet no jihad or fatwa
purges polluted souks
where portraits of Madonna
outsell the Prophet's books.

To me it scarcely matters
if mullahs preach in skirts
or harems trade their chadors
for lycra pants and shirts.
Sheiks are counting profits
like geldings courting mares,
but I mourn for the poets,
not for the billionaires.

[alan at; originally published in Chronicles]