PERSIA


Persia, I think,
is still here
tho' I try not to look at it
any oftener than necessary.
But if I were to focus my gaze,
I would behold such elevating spectacles as:

an ancient and scrofulous beggar
washing his priapean appendage
in the gutter of the main street;

scrawny, pock-marked, spider-legged whores
peddling ye ancient commodity
to the soldiery by broad daylight;

naked, scrofulous infants, made quiet with opium,
exhibited by their Pharsi Fagans to evoke
the easy baksheesh of the foreigner;

camel drivers dismounting to micturate
against the wall of an elementary school,
while little girls go to and from their classes
and behold the exhibition with innocent unconcern;

fuliginous turks, the swart jehus of the droshkies
(believe-it-or-don't with red roses in their teeth,
like Spanish cavaliers);

the noissome surge of twenty nationalities and uniforms
sharing the sidewalk with bands of sheep
and goats;

sullen burros, their back-breaking panniers
piled high with melons, cucumbers, apples,
peddled with a sing-song chant,
"O buy of my cucumbers, glistening with dew of the morning;
O buy of my melons, lovely and smooth
as the breasts of a princess!";

work and droshky nags, innocent
of the gelding knife, kept tractable
by abuse, overwork, and starvation;

the butcher shops, usually just
an archway in the wall, where dangle
the florid carcasses of recently murdered cows,
sheep, and goats, exposed to sun, dust,
and the prodding forefingers of cautious buyers;

on the sidewalk, baskets heaped with the major
endocrine glands of bereft bulls, and here
perhaps a veiled hausfrau hefting one
of the glabrous gonads in each hand to determine
which is the best bargain at 10 rls. each;

the smell of decay and a thousand hidden
little nastinesses;

the clatter of dialects, and the anachronous
bleating of jeep horns
and the sidewalk radio blasting out,

"Milkman! Keep those bottles quiet!"


- Yek -


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Persia, WWII.