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