We gave them all our dreams – the magic carpet, the Arabian Nights.  They used them for Disney films and brought us their tanks and their snipers.

                         -- Aziz Hassan, Iraqi poet (Feb. 2016)


Night shimmers along the Street of Books

over flat rooftops that promise relief

from crushing heat, disrupted

intermittently by bursts

of small-arms fire. 


Aladdin’s dream – that magic swirl of hope

where chance aligns and fortunes fall from trees,

once graspable in blue-tiled mosques

and arching passageways – is now consigned to

splintered palms, dry rubble piles.


His name was Allah-Din; but magic

comes obscured these days -- small expectations

mixed with dust.  What rises is uncertainty. 

Each alley has gone blind.  The nomad moon

hangs motionless, resigned.

 First published in What Rough Beast, Aug. 24, 2019