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A Sestina on "Holy Jihad"

In flowing robes and colorful turban
a handsome Caliph with his scimitar
rode upon an old, crotchety camel
across self-delusion's hot crystal sand;
a message carried he of the Prophet
while he sang, "God is great and merciful!"

While he sang, "God is great and merciful!"
a sudden wind-gust blew off his turban,
and he swore, "By the Beard of the Prophet!
any man I'd cut with my scimitar
if he'd thus strike my turban to the sand;
but, we're just three: God, me and my camel."

Thus spoke he and stopped, got off his camel.
"God it is not, for He is great and merciful;
and yet, there lies my turban in the sand.
Besides, what could God want with my turban?"
Wondered the Caliph, hand on scimitar.
"Myself it cannot be, by the Prophet!

Then who!? by the Sandal of the Prophet!
Since only one remains, you my camel,
is it you who must taste my scimitar?
For sure as God is great and merciful,
I must revenge the fall of my turban
that now lies defiled in the sand."

The camel burped and crouched low in the sand.
Exclaimed the Caliph, "Faith of the Prophet!
is that your answer?" Then his turban
was promptly eaten by the old camel.
"It's a sign: God is great and merciful!"
He drew from its scabbard his scimitar.

"Now, you infidel! Taste my scimitar
and let your blood nourish the golden sand;
as sure as God is great and merciful,
you shall pay this insult, by the Prophet!"
cried he and cut the head off his camel.

With his camel dead, no turban for head
though God's merciful, sun and sand are cru'l:
using scimitar, prophets don't go far!



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A Sestina on Holy Jihad


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