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Ruinad

 

 I sang it once before:

a fit of quick design and years waiting

in remote space.

 

Just another brief—scrape the pox

from a tent or cave. Brass call

to sort any trouble for good.

 

Ask Alexander. Gleam of a sword, barrel

on a crown of rock. Smirks

at turbo-armour, zubberdusty.

 

They kuttle hurra

like bees to a tamarisk.

 

Will anyone force the pass? clamber

in snow, strip meat

from a frozen sheep, dash in a tunnel

through scrub and boulders.

 

Stall/go. Thought bubbles.

 

Out of place

you could tread on a pressure plate,

get a dose of confetti.

 

Tab-turn, flash. Our daily chant

speaks tribes not a country.

Must be spited for yesterday’s broil.

 

Coins from a grain-bag

spill, three handfuls. As smart

a devil as what we slip

by night.

 

Swillswitch, a great game

and who’s the cleverest?

 

Alone, some hood by a checkpoint,

EDU—CATION, serves a reply

to buttons and facings.

 

Must be the worst. Behind

there’s bitter almond, wild rose, a rivulet

then sand cloud.

 

Goozur-like we guard a thing not ours.

 

Boneland with poppies

to spike yumanity.

 

If all were settled, jung-i-kalūs,

we’d feel this sun a bull’s eye grape.

 

Patience to make the thing worthwhile,

an empty prayer,

flag at a turret-post.

 

Dreams are the soul in flight.

A surge-rider won’t take anything back.

 

 

 

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NOTES

Ruinad: certain phrases are taken from the vocabulary of Persian, Hindostani and Other Oriental Words in Lady Sale’s Journal of the Disasters in Affghanistan 1841-2 (1843) or from the text of this work.

zubberdust = overbearing, with a strong arm (hence “zubberdusty” in Kipling, “A Conference of Powers” and Soldiers Three).

kuttle hurra = cut someone’s throat.

Goozur = rumbling noise or passing earth tremor (from Sir Alexander Burnes, Cabool: A Personal Narrative [1842]).

jung-i-kalūs = a fight or battle ended.