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from THE FLAME OF TRANSFORMATION TURNS TO LIGHT / 99 Ghazals Written in English

Written in 2002
Published 2007 by The Ecstatic Exchange

Up in the Air on our Way to Turkey

• Going to Konya

• In Rumi’s Tomb in Konya


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We’re up in the air on our way to Turkey flying at night
Eerie to think we’re a tiny dot in space plying the night

So many people crammed and belted trying to sleep
Uncomfortably tossing and turning to and fro sighing at night

If we really knew how to fly we’d fly without needing a plane
Wherever our hearts’ prayers aspire to multiplying at night

Shafts of space brilliantly dazzling even the distant-most stars
Illuminations transforming our blood denying the night

Doubts and hesitations vanished completely away
As well as uncontrollable weeping by day and crying by night

Giant doors in space of mirroring energies flowing in rivers
Where God makes matter and anti-matter even supplying the night

There beyond human emotion and every elegant characteristic
Our plane wants to sail in perfect splendor indemnifying the night

Not returning in quite the same state as the one we went in
But alchemically changed after firmly calcifying the night

Seeing God’s Face in every physical manifestation
From here to eternity that is momentarily vying with night

Are thoughts like these passing through anyone else’s head
In this throbbing metal angel to Istanbul flying at night?

These dreams of a tiny passenger fitfully unable to sleep
Ameen probing with feeble cardiac flashlight spying at night

(Note: I was given the name Ameen in the desert of Algeria in the 70s by blind saint, Hajj 'Issa of Larghouat, which I've used as my signature in the final couplets, faithful to the ghazal tradition.)

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Tomorrow we're getting on a bus in Ankara and going to Konya
Most of my adult life I've wanted to be going to Konya

Will it be raining tiny celestial cities or crescent rainbows like flying birds?
Will it be sizzling hot with bronze sunlight or snowing in Konya?

Will Mevlana be tall or short visible or invisible?
Will he greet me as I enter his tomb his smile like a sweet breeze blowing in

Will there be a giant elephant in a dark house
And will three blind men try to describe it totally not knowing in Konya?

Will the tomb rise up into the starry heavens themselves –
its turqoise dome entering dimension after dimension – each glowing in Konya?

Will a cape of gorgeous feathers from the Great Simurgh fall from the ceiling
and float slowly onto Rumi's tomb gracefully flowing in Konya?

Will the Path to Allah open up like the yellow brick road
and every lion scarecrow and tin man of our souls into Oz-like enlightenment be
     growing in Konya?

Am I expecting too much – O faint heart – or am I expecting too little?
Will the tomb of Rumi be silent as stone or softly echoing in Konya?

Will I see Rumi face to face at some moment in some way
And forever after my heart be like an open ocean rowing in Konya?

Some saints leave traces – some saints leave majestic mountains –
Rumi's stature with God a whole world seems to be shadowing from Konya

When we step off the bus will my feet tingle?
Will I hear the hammer beating the copper pot Rumi heard – its heart-pulse
     bestowing on Konya?

Will Shems appear in ragged cloak and fierce sun-scorched face –
Heart like a catapult whole galaxies into infinity throwing in Konya?

Ah Ameen – you've waited long enough all your 61 years to now –
go to sleep and tomorrow insha'Allah you'll finally be going to Konya!


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A sky shaped like a face – no it can’t be that
A wingéd horse on fire in the middle of the air – no it can’t be that

A sound of bells that burns from the feet to the heart
A whisper of hidden words falling from the top of a tree – no it can’t be that

A look across centuries that today is enshrouded in the world
The touch of a young boy’s hand who already knows the secret – no it can’t be

A bridge of light in all the usual places
A bird that expands to embrace every living heart – no it can’t be that

An eye that beholds the cave where the Prophet became Messenger
A sing-song voice along the ground speaking perfect rhyming sentences – no it
     can’t be that

Hello before you arrive and again before you get up to go
A kiss across green water that reflects both sun and moon – no it can’t be that

A call from within a shirt so old its threads look like rain
A light that slides up the corner of the tomb and fills the body – no it can’t be that

What is it then? Is there any answer?
Is it possible to say? – no it can’t be that

Ameen was gone for a moment but something remained
There’s only a trace left in the air from all of us – no it can’t be that

Mevlana – we certainly had a magnificent celebration
Does it need to end? – no – please – it can’t be that

5/7 (written at Rumi’s tekke in Konya)

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