Neu! Boots Are Made For Walking DAY THIRTY-THREE – Peter Russell

Djinns in the Aleppo Souks

Catch the djinns between the piles of giddy spices
In air shot through with bolts of light
Blasted diagonally through the dust and dark
Into the barter of bargain goods of the Levant
To the haggling crowds of everyday Arab merchants
Muttering, shouting in there, in the labyrinth.   

Anciently concealed in shops and booths in the labyrinth
Blazed with tawny, azure, brown, and golden bright spices
Dealt by commercial domestic merchants
Like their goods veiled from the blistering light
And blinding heat of the shapeshifting Levant
Shuttered cluttered there in the dark

The blasted roof of corrugated tin welds in the dark
Traced with cash threading through the labyrinth
Intersecting algebraic values of the Levant
Mediterranean oil, sea-salt and camel caravanserai spices
Emulsified on counters under jaundiced electric light
By gold like the teeth in hospitable merchants

Accommodating demanding hosts querulous merchants
their eyes and hearts looking not to our Europe wet or dark
But south and east to Mecca and the Prophet’s light
Language, life, in the djinns’ superstitious labyrinth
Subtle, expensive, sour and cruel as spices
Turned from the classical flame, the turned back of the Levant

The once stuck sun again smoulders on the Levant
Aleppo fragmented into body parts of merchants
Shells, bullets, explosives and poison gas for spices
And tracers now the bolts through a world of dark
The cacophony of an unending labyrinth
The lair of clamour and tormenting torch light

The stars have set in that tin roof, but can rise to light
Again the strained grace of the Levant
Can cut the cat’s cradle chart of the diplomats’ labyrinth
As invasions of Crusaders, Arabs, Romans, merchants
Brought force, and trade and lost themselves to the friendly dark
And persistent demand for commerce of life and spices

The Aleppo Souks strike light and sharp shadow, quick trade of merchants
As violence drives life from the Levant leaving their air stale and dark
The djinns stay put, possess the labyrinth, seeking, guarding essential spices.

Peter Russell grew up in Portsmouth, and studied Comparative Literature at the UEA Norwich and in Germany. He has lived in Glasgow since 1985, working in local government until retiring in 2012, and now writes full-time.

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