Narrowing Hallway

The unkempt beard of the fearsome mullah
overwhelms the two aging poets from the periphery,
the far-flung provinces of Iran and Iraq.

They stand tiptoe, toe deep in the master culture,
arguing in an emptying, narrowing hallway,
in the high imperial language of their poetry,

over what became of the muffled, cuffed bulbul
or of the straw-stuffed, stone-eyed mynah,
over the proper ornithology for the symbols of woe.

Raza Ali Hasan, "Narrowing Hallway" from Grieving Shias. Copyright © 2006 by Raza Ali Hasan.  Reprinted by permission of The Sheep Meadow Press.
Source: Grieving Shias (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2006)
More Poems by Raza Ali Hasan