Moths with flaming wings swarm around us
Moths with flaming wings swarm around us.
Shrieks stream from the djinns that surround us.
The shaman's flute pipes notes of music
That are visible in the air around us.
The shadows of wraiths slide through fog,
Whispering koans meant to confound us.
Bands of rain dissolve in radiant mirages.
Curtains of white sand shimmer around us.
We dreamed of jewels gleaming in the diadem
Of the Empress whose beauty would astound us.
Blue poppies adorned the garlands
With which a chieftain once crowned us.
Sparks pulsate in hooded shadows rising
From the billowing pyres around us.
As sibyls chant prayers floating embers
Crackle in the sphere of light around us.
[Incense lingers in a tomb where falcons]
Incense lingers in a tomb where falcons
Are embossed on Heer's coffin of light.
On Layla's gown Majnoon's reflection
Wavers in each burnished sequin of light.
From Zabarvan Shiva observes planets teem
Like dust-motes whirling in a margin of light.
Begum Akhtar clothes notes in her voice's silk
As she sings from a palanquin of light.
Hieroglyphs on pyramids depict spectral vortexes
As portals traced to the origin of light.
Darting bulbuls fashion spherical nests
In apricot groves tended by a djinn of light.
By a candle's glow Faiz scratches Zindan-Nama
On a prison wall that gleams like a bulletin of light.
Stars convulse in Krishna's mirror
As the glass radiates with a skin of light.
Gales billow clouds that shed phantasms
Arrayed in a pearled muslin of light.
Shiva meditates within lucent clouds
Flowing above a mountain of light.
Racing shrikes streak the sands with fast shadows
Racing shrikes streak the sands with fast shadows,
Where towering dolmens cast vast shadows.
Bass glisten in rock pools like slick knives,
Silver light glinting in their fast shadows.
As flocks of finches burst from lush plums,
Gold specks mottle their fast shadows.
Voices recite scripts from Etruscan scrolls
As bats bolt through caverns like fast shadows.
−When the screaming winds startle djinns
That race into hills like fast shadows.
−When priests in the catacombs of Thebes
Glimpse flying wraiths like fast shadows.
−When over bluffs & stone barrens
Persian falcons steer fast shadows.
−When across iced valleys Himalayas
Lean into their own vast shadows.
Bonfires cast dancing shadows at Suma Beach.
Seashells emit whispering echoes at Suma Beach.
Funnel clouds shimmer with sparks, giving rise
To lightning-infused tornadoes at Suma Beach.
Streaming thunder is a visible black river
Flooding bulwarks with echoes at Suma Beach.
A lyre's notes float in blue mist, hushing
The flocks of flamingoes at Suma Beach.
As quicksilver clouds dissolve, minute prisms
Issue from lucent rainbows at Suma Beach.
Phantasms form on iced roads along sea grass,
Rising through turbulent snows at Suma Beach.
Terns huddle on stony shoals as frosted dew
Glazes stalks of yarrows at Suma Beach.
Gales rove verges as hissing sands incite
The shrieks of drongos at Suma Beach.
Agha Shahid Ali taught Steffen Horstmann the ghazal form while he was his student at the University of Arizona. Horstmann´s poems and book reviews have appeared in publications throughout the world, including: Baltimore Review, Free State Review, Istanbul Literary Review, Louisiana Literature, Oyez Review, Texas Poetry Journal, and Tiferet.