Hard Questions


And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree . . .
Coleridge: Kubla Khan

Sheba’s wailing Queen laments for Yemen:

Her incense trees are lacerated, scarred.

Sapped for their fragrance, drained of life and marred

Their smoking blood offered up to heaven.

No sinuous rills flow forth to bless the dead;

Beneath her ruined dam no gardens grow;

And Bedouins only sing of what they know

In wastelands of the nomad past. It’s said

That all those spices, all that golden smoke

and irrigated dreams beneath the sand

were just a subtle Solomonic joke.

The yearly weight of gold, the camel-trains,

Are cryptic numbers—chanted in refrains

That only Marib’s phantoms understand.


PROMPT #4: write a poem based on an image from a dream.

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