Where Is Damascus? (2)

Where is Damascus?

Damascenes can welcome
tourists of many shades,
many kinds of refuge for
adventurous palettes, a

taste of freedom perhaps for
foreign and countryside tourists

From many places
people seek refuge
or adventure in Damascus

Shelling in Idlib, Homs and Hama.
None of our business. People
seek refuge in Damascus. OK.

Shabiha intimidate those
neighborhoods now nearby.

Soon violence may come to
our narrow alleys
mingle among tourists
wrapping up a night wandering

Seems a friend is accused —
disappeared by glass fronts and by street stalls
where walk-by tourists are stalled along narrow ways
on Midan street, and eye the high towers of
baklawa and night-market syrups on
pistachio-and-walnut secrets wrapped in
phyllo dough wrappings and raptured night

Are we to be tourists too
who will mingle with darker nights,
pack up and wrap up the day
flee too when the last
of the grilled meat
oozes lamb scented oil

seeming no time for
sfouf cake, sesame cookies
or crumbly mamoul

going now without tea perhaps
making our way quietly
off the record, secular
and I’d deny I’d ever said that
religion is superstition. Say that

family were kind merchants
who made money honestly
obeyed the state of affairs

What are we to do
with the art works in our house?

Saying that perhaps
Damascenes never mention
chic addresses again
where honey-pistachio pastries
seemed to entice
a palette of fantasy tolerance
bought with elite education, where
no one could know

we were pet dogs
and happy to eat until
the countryside wolf
became a tourist

— Douglas Gilbert


6 thoughts on “Where Is Damascus? (2)

  1. Great work on this, it’s flowing along wonderfully, I like the new additions, especially the last four lines, they convey a whole lot but in few words and wrap it up nicely. I can feel the hustle and bustle of the night market in your words, and all of the delicious treats you mentioned are making me hungry…

    1. Thanks. I think it’s more poetic than the first draft and I think it works better to use “tourist” as an all around metaphor than to be literal like in the first draft. Maybe there are less complications when it’s more general and no need to blame anyone in particular? But still leave culpability open to interpretation? Now sure about that.

      1. Yeah, it is more poetic maybe that’s why the flow seemed better. Although your first draft was never bad to begin with. My first drafts are horrible! hmmm, i don’t know…it does work good like this and most people right now know what is going on over there so they can put one and one together to figure out what it alludes to. But years later when the relevant events aren’t fresh in people’s memories they may not be able to make the connections without something more concrete.
        I’m trying to be a tourist right now. I’ve been looking at hotels for over a month and still haven’t picked one. I have some sort of a serious decision making problem. I’m flip-flopping between cities, between beaches and between hotels. There’s so many places i’d like to go, things i’d like to see. Friday is my last day of work…i was planning on leaving on Saturday and i still don’t know where i’m going. I guess i’m going to settle on Myrtle beach, they have all kinds of fun family type things to do and lovely beaches. I could stop and stay in Asheville for a night and not have to do all the driving in one day. I’ve heard that’s a nice mountain town. But I really wanted to go to Charleston SC too, and then i started looking at the Virginia Beach, Destin FL and Savannah GA. All i really want is a nice relaxing getaway and i have myself stressed out just trying to make the plans. That’s probably why i haven’t written much for a bit too…I’m so busy looking at every hotel that’s ever been built on the east and southern gulf side of the United States. hehe

    2. I’d guess that where ever you go, just getting away, you’ll have a good time. Could be that each has it’s charms and flaws, advantages and disadvantages so which ever you chose you’ll miss the flaws of the one you didn’t chose and you can imagine that the charms of the other are overrated and that had you gone there to the alternate, the ice machine would have broken and then you could have been bitten by a mosquito and tripped and fell into a garden where you crushed a butterfly. The butterfly will be very grateful.
          I can’t decide where to build my 10 billion dollar hotel complex. But I’ve decided to put my decision on hold and concentrate on fund raising. Last year I raised a total of 10 cents. This year I’ve done a lot better: an architecture student gave me $1. So I’ve raised ten times as much this year. I’m calling my friends in Spain and Greece who have done a lot better: each has collected so far, with more to come, a total of 2 Euro’s. I don’t know how much that is in American dollars but I think it’s more than double what I’ve raised. I think we’ll put solar panels on the roof to save money on the electric bill. The windmill for the miniature golf course will be 100 feet tall and have an electric turbine at the top to generate power (although in one of the sites we’ve been looking at there’s been no wind lately).
          So we need a windy, sunny location with an abandoned secret gold mine that because it’s haunted by ghosts we can buy for a dollar. So then we can easily chase out the ghosts and use the gold as collateral for a loan.
          So I think now I’ll just focus on finding a movie company that wants to speculate on an independent movie about ghosts in an abandoned gold mine. It should work because the price of gold is very high.
          But I can’t decide which movie company to choose.
          Maybe one who has experience in sunny windy places.

      1. Well, i finally did it. I reserved a room! Yay me! I feel so accomplished! (giggling) Now i just need to figure out a hotel for my stopping overnight point. I really don’t want to drive 11 hours in one day by myself. I’m just ready to get my feet into some sand and to hear the waves rolling onto the shore. Anyways, the butterflies in Charleston are safe. Lets hope my clumsiness doesn’t harm any of the ones in myrtle beach.
        Your hotel idea sounds awesome. I’ll pitch in some funds if i have anything left at the end of this trip. Good idea with the solar panels and the windmill turbines. I think it would be neat if you made one of the pool areas to look like a jungle, there could be hanging vines that you could swing down from your room’s balcony on and drop into the deep end of the pool. You could even have your penguin waiters from your Alice poem to deliver drinks to the people swimming in the pool and you could make it a rule that in order to get poolside service, you would have to have the water guns to shoot them with. A haunted abandoned gold mine?! Hopefully the ghosts are friendly like Casper…maybe if i baked some cookies for them they would help mine the gold for you. Most everyone loves cookies, even ghosts (i’m pretty sure that’s why the cookies and brownies i make disappear so fast – there’s a ghost that sneaks in to my house and helps itself to them).
        The movie sounds good too…you could make that pretty scary. I bet it would make me jump and gasp, I spilled my coke all over myself one time when i watched a really scary movie…

    3.     Congratulations. Have a great vacation, drive carefully and whistle a happy tune, or hum or whatever the song is. Enjoy the joy and be well. If there be rain, let it be musical; if there be sun, let it not burn; if there be fog, let the fog horn be triumphant like a fanfare. I’m not sure what to do with the grasshoppers — maybe chocolate. For every breeze, a sail; for every sail, a ship; for every ship, a destination.
          Hmm. Maybe a poem from this. Anyway, hope you have a relaxing time.

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