The meter in this one is probably less than apparent.  I hear it in my head
but Iím not sure it gets out.  Itís a dark, ominous kind of rhythm -- sort
of a lyrical chant in the present tense.  Something different.
Something like:

ba-Boom ba-Boom Boom Boom
ba-Ba ba-Ba Ba Ba
ba-Boom ba-Boom Boom Boom
Ba-ba-Ba ba-Ba Ba Ba
 
 
 

The Sign of the Open Palm

by C.R. Patton Jr.

 
        From noon till cool dark comes
        hot daylight rakes the street;
        broken cobble lies undisturbed
        while the shade is in retreat.

        Against a baked mud wall,
        sweating in the afternoon balm,
        squats a shadow maybe once a man;
        holding out his upturned palm.

        For decades or centuries,
        longer, scraggle-bearded elders say;
        the rhythm of the hot and dry
        have preserved Al-Jabbat from decay.

        Pebbles atop the sand expand
        thrusting out shadows long and dark;
        nearby but seldom seen
        feral dogs begin their twilight bark.

        Thru the blur of a smoke filled room
        fall glowing ashes from a hand so calm;
        outside in the dust blown street
        hangs the Sign of the Open Palm.

        A pair of live flame lamps
        light the doorway with their duet;
        a shadow looming ten feet tall
        shrouds a slightly smaller silhouette.

        Enter a crooked tooth smile
        too yellow to reflect the flickers,
        Eyeing as he walks each patron
        his knees move among the wickers.

        Propped by a driftwood staff;
        sitting, sipping sweet hot tea
        wizened with rare red hair
        stands a soul of serenity.

        Water warped wood in a desert land
        just one of his dervish tokens;
        "Assalamu-alaikum",
        his greeting is grimly spoken.

        "And also upon you" goes unsaid
        by the approaching ogre now near;
        a loathing felt by all precedes,
        a hatred with a hint of fear.

        The dullard's knife shines forth
        with a handle of rhinoceros horn,
        He has come to avenge the deaths
        of a wife and a child unborn.

        The smaller flame-haired man
        had been paid for a mystical service.
        The arid medicine had failed
        leaving the widower a single-minded purpose.

        But the confidence shining from the mage
        illicits a meandering doubt;
        this weaponed attack on authority
        parches his throat like a two year drought.

        South from below the Sudan,
        north through Saudia to Turkey,
        charisma heightens a man
        whether Sir Lawrence or The Mahdi.

        From Morocco to Bangladesh
        people of Islam bow habitually,
        Mekkah is the center of all
        five times each day faithfully.

        A simple frontal attack
        stands not a snowflake's chance;
        courage gone but resolve in place,
        he follows behind the knife's advance.

        A flash, a flick, and a two piece staff
        end it all before it can really begin;
        the half in hand is dagger tipped;
        burnt powder falls on a grizzly grin.

        A second wife and first child
        will be forced to beg for alms;
        their connection to community
        lies on the floor with splayed out palms.

        From Ayatollahs to Mutawah,
        there's a religious paternity;
        like the blazing sun overhead
        a desert fixture from eternity.

        The west wind blows on dry,
        not a single palm tree to sway;
        Al-Jabbat continues the same
        withering without wasting away.
 
        The camels after the sun has gone down,
        lie in wait for a brand new dawn.
        Darkness never quite settles
        at the Sign of the Open Palm.

              ~~  ~~  ~~

"Assalamu-alaikum" means, loosely, "Peace be upon you."
"Wa'alaikum assalam" is the reply (loosely: "And also upon you")
"Mutawah" - Saudi Arabian religious police
Insha-Allah "God-willing, I shall"