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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 (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

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