sweet love of tunisia…

sweet love of tunisia

she sits
on the mountainside
she’s been there
more years
than most
can count
her beauty
and kindness
like a desert flower
still growing
in the harsh
sahara sun
loved ones
have long ago
made the journey
to heaven
some entered
the next level freely
of old age
others were swept up
by the anger
of tyrants
and now
she watches
as children
once held
in her arms
storm the barricades
hoping to taste
the sweet waters
of the oasis
of freedom
she knows
many shall not
break through
and their ashes
will join
with the sands
of others
and their voices
will wail
with the winds
in the night

board game…

fragmented promises
lie on the road
yesterday’s despairs
such fine confetti
for a parade
of fools
passing down
narrow cobblestoned alleys
of imagined liberties
to a destination
advertised by
online chatrooms
as the new eden
where free apples
are distributed
by secret police
for the consumption
of weary travellers
on this monopoly board
road to freedom

majority vote…


out on the street
they have decided
to cast their votes
no paper ballots
or hanging chads
this time
rioto complicate
the matter
just a large number
of warm bodies
crowding into a square
where their unified voice
be heard
the movement
as they call it on the news
doesn’t really have
a single voice
just a unified complaint
and if he goes
then what
a fragmented
turns upon
to feed

while the capital burned…

as i walked
  within the burning maze
  of plague ridden streets
staring at statues
  of dreams deferred
reading plaques
  engraved with
  now forgotten hopes
  a  god
  thought dead
  by political pundits
i saw
a freshly painted

the offering…

on an old altar
he placed a roman coin
exposed by rain
found among the ruins
for sale
not worth much
the guide said
but authentic
how much i asked
two dinars
but it’s only worth
one dinar
but it was found here
where poor foot soldiers came
offering their wages
for favors in the night
wine and women
the holy sacraments for the lonely
and disciples of poverty
given on a temporary altar of love
a coin that purchased a soul
rather than food for his family
or education for his children
and he asked
why are you crying
nothing has changed


brickmaker of tozeur….

at her parent’s home
she waits
while he tends to the fire
that forms the
all made of
and saved
as a dowry
for  his love
who like him
is made
from the same clay

dom tec dom tec…


with an understanding
that can only come from
one who has taught children for years
he strove to teach us
the heart beat of tunisia
on clay drums
and we with hands
stuttering to find the magic
of his words
dom tec
dom tec
tec tec dom
move without purposeful rhyme
like those who run our government
as they position for the next election
and they
like us
attempt to match
the teacher’s lead
so as not to call unwanted attention
upon their ineptitude
but to blend into
the flow of others
more skilled
at carrying for what is truly needed
to make this nation’s music
play again in the hearts of those
all around
who need to hear
the sounds of hope
as they wander across
the arid
wasteland of dreams
on the salt flats
of political ambition

the berber queen…


her eyes spoke to me
words soft and gentle
as if she was my mother
not an old lady
living on some arid hillside
cliff in tunisia
this has been her home
since she embraced her true love
and we
were but another set of staring eyes
peering through cameras
capturing disney-like images
for the folks back home
to be discussed over wine and hor d oeurves
noting of course
our ten minute climb to her home
as if it were worthy of a boy scout badge
but long before we entered her portal
she saw us coming
as she peeked out for the next
visit from some group of naive tourists
believing that they were the first to meet her
and capture her image on digital negatives
and so i wondered
why she would grace us with smiles
not the ones programmed to come on
when the visitation switch was thrown
but smiles from deep within her soul
as if greeting an old friend too long gone
her eyes quickly told me why
in this hillside village
little changed day-to-day
the mediterranean sun like her daughter’s visits
rose and set with such regularity
that even a saint would cry tears of boredom
but our futile quest for understanding her life
was a splotch of color on the drab walls of her existence
we were the observed
not the observer
so her eyes danced
and laughed
as she recalled her youth
and the contours of the years in her face
faded from my view
and all i could see
was her dancing on her wedding night
all i could hear
was the pounding of her heart’s passion
and then all i saw
was this beautiful berber woman
as a queen
holding court
in her palace

hands of the begger….

outside the hotel
at nightfall
sat a woman
in a door way
of a closed shop
sitting alone in the night
on this half deserted street
at the gates of the medina
where earlier hundreds
moved with purpose
to lunch appointments
closing business deals
gathering wealth
like bees gather honey
but now they were home
warm and sheltered from the night
but she
she has come out
as if embarrassed to be seen
in the light of day
asking for alms
for her generation
did not do so lightly
only in dire need
would one make such a request
and once no one would have refused
such a call for mercy
for they understood what courage it took
to make such a request
but things are modern now here in tunis
and many do not recall such acts of bravery
but i a foreigner understood this
for i have read their history
and so as i place the coin
into her warm hand
she grasp mine with hers
and i was blessed ten fold