BathHouse Journal

Tyrone Williams

 

Melinde Melindi

 

Abu al-Fida’s written account of Melinde follows
tracks the Galana River to its mouth, sound

ledger on/in which the Pillar of Vasco da Gama
balances, is balanced by, Mount Kenya, vector

per vector as a credit/debt, correct/error,
edifice before lapsing into a common era

of undisturbed foliage and feral menagerie
encrypt Jesus Mohammed, arrest Christ the Prophet

until Sultan Majid pulls back the stone to enslave
Melinde’s corpse and order Malindi’s release

into a British protectorate as one—absent oil,
gold, etc.—chosen and resigned to a tourist resort

overlooking the Indian Ocean empty of pirate
trawlers, merchant ships and freighters steering clear

of the hidden scarecrows of Somali piracy
filling the nets of Kenyan fishermen

with the bounty of repopulated waters
cleansed in the absence of barges dumping waste.

 

 

taškīl

 

A musky woman
disappeared into “the Fragrant Concubine”
finds her legs
shedding the shroud of her grandfather’s mausoleum
steps out
into a new Kashgar
the old city
Uyghur rubble under Han redevelopment
remains discernible
in the smell of her body bathed in camel milk
in her bowlegged gait
two-legged chair draped in out of date clothes
sidling sashaying
like the beast that once bore her to Beijing
where a Qianlong emperor
wood her with her own charms in miniature
replicas of her village
garden, mosque and oasis, a splash of cow milk
in her tea.

Earthbound over
hidden from Uyrghur and Chinese eyes
a grape
on the tongue of the last imam
a gift
not unlike the last gift
from the emperor
jujube tree
and won over to the consolation
of poison-
tipped daggers sheathed in festooned sleeves
slashed her torso
cut so straight it might have served as a second mouth
shut wide but
for the viscera revealed.

 

 

Xcedilla

 

The soft sales of distance—tele-, email,
text, post—augur revenues lower
than those projected by prevailing
sentiment, the philosophical minds
of first responders: hands-on on-site likes.
Nevertheless, the value of distance—
l/l axis that corners the market—
climbs into a car already crowded
with service refugees seeking civic
and moral credit as the victims
of natural phenomena absorbed
as human disaster ad lib off script
and crawl, walk or run guns out of the frame,
retrofit lifeboats with rebuilt motors
powerful enough to chase down big game
out in the trade lanes of the Indian Ocean,
As for Waaq, Allah, and Yahweh,
and God—names for the earthquake off the coast
of Sumatra, for the tsunami sent
to wipe out the lives and livelihoods
of coastal fishermen far from Xarardheere
where Range Rovers packed with televisions,
mattresses, computers and furniture
race out of town ahead of believers
armed with haram but short on cash.

 


Tyrone Williams teaches literature and theory at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the author of five books of poetry, c.c. (Krupskaya Books, 2002), On Spec (Omnidawn Publishing, 2008), The Hero Project of the Century (The Backwaters Press, 2009), Adventures of Pi (Dos Madres Press, 2011) and Howell (Atelos Books, 2011). He is also the author of several chapbooks, most recently the companion works Between Red and Green: The Black Brigade of Cincinnati (Dos Madres Press, 2016) and Red Between Green (Portable Labs at Yo-Yo Press, 2015). His website is at http://home.earthlink.net/~suspend/