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A Vist to the Sultan's Palace

At the entrance
to the Sultan’s palace
stand the guards
with their automatic machine guns
and their x-ray machines
checking for arms, explosives


The Sultan is long dead
but to enter his innermost mosque
where rubies and precious stones abound
and the furniture is inlaid
with ivory and gold thread
you must take your shoes off

And to breathe the richness
of the Sultan’s inner chambers,
see the jewel-encrusted toys
with which his children played,
envy the elegance of the pillows
on which his harem lounged,
you must purchase a special ticket


The floors of the Sultan’s palace
are paved with marble from Genoa
the doors are ebony from Tashkent
and the eyes that watch from the Chinese statues
are made from finest jade


Outside the Sultan’s palace
amidst the carefully tended shrubs
and magnolia trees, a lone tomato plant
is growing next to the wall, and on it,
precious globes of red and green
each more perfect than a jewel
from the Sultan’s crown.  Perhaps
some careless tourist cast his
sandwich fragment here


The child in me reaches down
and pulls a globe from its hairy stalk
hides it in pocket and strolls out past
the guards and all their uniforms and machines


Thinking of the Rhubayat, we leave
the Sultan’s palace in its noose of light
and travel on to new Turkish delights

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© Johnmichael Simon



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