#poem #poetry #amwriting the muslim's tale xii

at the final inner gate
resplendent in their lamellar
beneath the dragon green pendant
stood the sultan's body-guard

ali smelt the wine-soaked soldier-breath
as they stopped him on the path
not these the conscripts of hadeeth
each and every volunteered

men of horn and men of mail
men grown hardened in the saddle
born not of mother but of jackals
whose life depends on whom they serve

O come the fire - come the tree
make sweet death swift sharp mercy
so ali prayed as he was carried led
to the great sultan - all men dread

speak he ordered when he saw
the contents of what ali bore
his vengeance barely chained
speak truth he spoke again in earnest

into the silence ibn koinos stepped
with honey to regenerate
the tattered tongue stolen false
by the sultan's demi-potentate

mellifluous as waking birds
cramped and croaked as growling bear
the strangled gasp of the choked
came that a voice unheard for one year