Around the cathedral, few creatures say what they actually mean. When the lovelorn cicada on the south nave needed advice on impressing the silent insect with whom he shares a buttress, I shrugged and loaned him a book on ghazals. Cicadas are well suited to the form: They respect tradition, they’re enigmatic by nature, and they know how to flutter indecisively around a perfectly bright idea.
The scullions ma’am’d and sir’d to the Abbasids;
The lusts of locusts whirred through the Abbasids.
Salaam, she sighed. A serpent shed a city,
And in, a starving bird, flew the Abbasids.
In wine, in witless words, in bloodshot mornings,
The gift of gardens blurred to the Abbasids.
A general’s eye surveyed the rheumy rooftops,
And frozen by a word grew the Abbasids.
You sang, “the bow his brow, his lashes lances…”
Our dawn campaign referred to the Abbasids.
“It’s cool,” the in-crowd says, “to dig this chanting.
A ban would be absurd to the Abbasids.”
Her angel raises ribbons, blue and scarlet,
But wasting in the third queue? The Abbasids.
I studied senseless serifs on your postcard,
A lore I long preferred to the Abbasids.
Spines align. He scans her posture sidewise:
El Cid, Beginner’s Urdu, The Abbasids…
The old cicada sang, his soul emerging,
And yet you never heard. Do the Abbasids?
(For all the entries in this series, hit the “looking up” tab.)