The flutes of the djinn
I don’t know, djinn, how much you remember
but I know you measure the Sahara’s sands,
wear stars on your fingers
and remember that once on Third Avenue
an old man freed you and asked nothing.
You studied him a long time before you left
to make sure he understood the consequences.
He did. And then he left,
and somewhere a child was born
wearing them on his face.
How do their flutes in the Tuareg night
summon us to the secrets of the djinn,
and how does the sexual electric of stars
wake us to the meanness of our wishes?
I think hearing is easier than seeing them
thanks to our brushes with the vast.
Abhor the misshapenness of words
and make this gnosis your heart:
everything is a facet of the same jewel.
“The flutes of the djinn” is from Far from Algiers (Kent State University Press, 2008).
Audio file of this poem is courtesy of Djelloul Marbrook and The Kent State University Press, from a CD of Marbrook reading the poems from his collection Far from Algiers.