God’s Net Like silken threads unspooling in the night shifting tones enlace and tug the dreams of restless sleepers. Fading moonlight gleams on waking minarets. The chant is tight and clean, determinate: it spins a sweet familiar web, a gauze of sound. Five times each day this net is cast, and God redeems anew — or offers to — with each thin note. Enchanted mesh suspended in the air, woven of rise and fall of voice and echo, settles soft on each reluctant soul, sleep-slack. Minds stir. Day’s work awaits: repair the frayed world’s cloth, and each his own. First, though, this call: to pause and pray and make us whole.
Feeding Time At dusk they wake to sweep the neighborhoods, their leathery wings engraved against the flames of sunset. Pricked by instinct out of sleep when others dream of rest, they scud the sky, their leathery wings engraved against the flames the sun gives up. Compelled to snap and gorge when others dream of rest, they scud the sky in waves, a deeper darkness in the gloom. The sun gives up. Compelled to snap and gorged with heat and blood, crowds swell and course the city in waves. A deeper darkness in the gloom, wild-eyed, they take what weapons come to hand with heat and blood. Crowds swell and course the city of sunset. Pricked by instinct out of sleep, wild-eyed, they take what weapons come to hand. At dusk they wake to sweep the neighborhoods.
Sweeping the Streets “Without the broom, the dust cannot be swept away.” Chairman Mao Whispers snake the streets, the dust like smoke uncurls in morning dark. Broom strokes scratch at yesterday’s crust of grime. Straws brush the gutter-must, ink the asphalt scroll: mark whispers, mark snakes. The streets, the dust exhale grief beneath each thrust and swirl. Streetlights dim, dogs bark, the broom strokes scratch. Yesterday's crust breaks under scrapes, a labor robust and public as blame, as lies and dark whispers. Snakes in the streets: their dust once unsettled the land like a sand gust from the desert. Venom and grudge sparked bruise, choke and scratch. Yesterday crushed to grit, the antique smashed: a bloodlust of bitterness burned through its arc. Now just whispers snake through street dust as broom strokes scratch at yesterday's crust.
Ken Turner has lived and taught in Asia, Africa, and Latin America as well as the US. His work has appeared in Southern Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Silk Road, Summerset Review, Asian Cha, and elsewhere, including several anthologies, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.