Babur’s Tulips

– we fringe the skirts of the mountains’ peaty
meadows – our heads agree with the brisk winds -
Babur commands that our varieties
be counted – we’re thirty-two, including
the rose-scented and the nine-hundred-leaved –
he loves death’s faces – velveteen-armed boys –
black nazwar – harram to Sunnis’ unsaved
souls – but we are not harram – no, not us –
us he gives to catamites in token
of his immortal lust – our stamens shape
his passion – mad, he carries two men – runs –
one on each shoulder through us up the slope –
from crimson heads he makes traffic pillars –
we salaam to corpses in the downpours


Some Useful Phrases

I have run out of petrol. Good evening. The
slaty frown of a storm gathers on the Hindu Kush.
How are you? Sticky warmth fills the room.
I am hungry. I am twenty-three. Pleased to meet
you. It is hot but the summer ought to have left
six weeks ago. Water is the main difficulty
of such a journey as sufferers from syphilis
of the throat are apt to spit in the wells.

The road to Kabul is closed and in any case
I have run out of petrol. Drop your weapon.
Please. May I look at it? There is the sound
of partridges clucking. God is Great. Take
six paces forward. Take cognisance. Take five.
Put your hands on the fridge. How much is that?




[Josh Ekroy lives in London. He is published in magazines, online and in anthologies including The Best of British Poetry 2011 (Salt).]

Copyright © 2013 by Josh Ekroy, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.