The kanunist’s fingers blur like a conjurer’s,
silk innuendos burlapped by his singing.
I sing along. “We are brothers now,” he says,
fisting his heart. I believe him, lulled asleep
by the argument of dice in a metal bowl.
A hand on my skull. We emerge from kerosene
into clapboard alleys of the Golden Horn
filling the darkness with their disappearing.
I can’t seem to keep my footing. A man leads me
by either arm. When at last my brother speaks,
it shakes my heart like a coin in a tambourine.
“Karsilama” first appeared in Drunken Boat, Spring 2010.