the orient
my students told me
was a construct
an invention
of the west

none of it
was true
you only find
what you seek

had know that
for years
ah, i said


of course, i like the view from my room
of the great mosque of Tangier
the minaret illuminated in the night
and the muezzin
who wakes you in the early morning
nothing against the

in m'sallah, where i lived before
i heard them several times a day
when they brought the dead
to the mosque there
not to be washed, as i thought
but to pray

i craned my head then out of the window
such pleasant sight, the bearers
the green cloth over the body
the gold-embroidered script, the monotonous singing
a sura from the koran
nothing against that
i also like the thought of fresh honey
that they put in the mouths of the dead
adding a few drops of water
against satan, to ward off the spirits
who could wrest them from the path to Allah
at least, so I've read


of course at home
if the priest
were to declaim the ave maria
five times a day from the church tower
sooner or later
you'd feel like shooting him

but i like the easter processions
the semana santa in seville for example
the jostling, the trampling of the crowd
the kitsch, the sanctimonious hysteria, the fervor
the holy virgin of course on strong men's shoulders
don't get me wrong


i'll go one step further
i must confess, you see
i have a fondness for guns
above all the machine gun
i like these men
who carry this thing so martially
like a companion in their hands
and strike fine, tough poses with her in firing positions

even when these men wear beards
kaftans or djellabas
it is a beautiful sight
the wild men in the desert
(not the martyrs with the cloths around the head
that's a dreadful aesthetic)
it is the prospect of the fight
the great fight against the evil evil
that nobody wants to fight any more
at least not in the golden west
where they're all just democratic these days

of course, many will say that's crazy
making a Paul of Saul
the people who will be the first to knock on your door
when their hour has come, the day of reckoning
terrestrial Armageddon is nigh
the cleansing of all unbelievers
blood flows in the name of god
as so often in something's name


all you can do then
is imagine a really nice death yourself
as in the house opposite for example
when the neighbor recently
quickly sailed over to the other side
early one morning of a heart attack

two days all doors open
comings and goings
the women in the drawing room
the men off in the other room
everybody had to eat bread an honey
out of an enormous pot
the evil spirits again?

on the third day
cooking was allowed in the house again
eating and drinking, family and friends
a hundred, a hundred an fifty
two hundred people?
and of course singing from the koran
for hours and hours
till I became quite dizzy

the clattering from the kitchen
of the femmes de ménage
rose up loud to my room
as if they were standing beside me
the sweating young girls
before my eyes the stream in the living room
from the food, from the people
from the damp winter air

now i hear the children
outside the front door
dancing shouting running playing
as if it were not a funeral
as if no one had died
as if everything just continued
of course, you somehow think
your own dead could be like this
even when you're lying beneath the earth

now they've stopped singing
perhaps they're eating again
it's so quiet all of a sudden
the great murmuring as ceased
only the children in the distance
for them it continues for a long time yet
from one feast to the next
till mine
till yours
till their own

it is 10 pm 14 minutes and 35 seconds
monday the 27
th january 2003

© 2006 - Alfred Hackensberger

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