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Herat

Tom Savage

1.

latecsunrise trees
horse carts sleighbe1ls sing
to here we are
at Jami’s tomb
a tree sings out
from poet’s dust
pilgrims watch tree leaves eat
Jami’s rock sleep
desert air

a “Mynah bird” jaws in branches
breezes good as cold water
play with my beard
as I sing this song.

2.

It's a long hot wa1k to Gazer Gah.
Birds sing here so you know
where you are. At this pool
of coo1ness in a sea of heat
tree-growing graves
nourish the sun with water.
A spring rises out of my head

from gods bed back of my eyes
an unalterable sigh
fly swarms nibble my feet
but food for the dead
is in my dirty cells
already.

Believers eye me suspicious1y.
A man who p1ays with Allah
and writes books in his courtyard!

Inside the mosque is much better.
Poet's words on the walls,
stained-glass windows of breath
breed shadows here
for sunburnt lovers
tourist or pilgrim
present or past

In a saint’s house full
of graffiti-prayers,
rock hands fold in my brain.
I 1ook for new legs and a bit of water
in seven lace-carved stones.

Here precious breath of tree-fed peace
in smiling sun and wooing shades
makes birdsong ricochet off eyelids
while I rest in darkness
behind my eyebrows drum.

my book is my pillow
my fireplace is breath
my friends are my food
the tree-swept air is singing
.


Tom Savage has written ten books of poems, including Brainlifts (Straw Gate Books, 2008) and Political Conditions / Physical States (United Artists Books, 1993). He has a forthcoming collection, Afghanistan: From Herat to Balkh and Back Again, due out from Steve Cannon’s Fly By Night Press. His work has been published in The New York Times, The World, Hanging Loose, Talisman and many other periodicals. He has taught a workshop at The Poetry Project and currently edits the magazine Tamarind. In the mid-1980s he edited the magazine Gandhabba.

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