Earl J. Wilcox

Earl J. Wilcox





Arabian knight on the run


    On a day once near Al Ain,

    so hot Satan sought shade,

    no dune, no shelter in sight,

    I saw a man pissing in the sand.

    His damp and limp dishdasha

    Looking grungy and likely smelling

    sour from the day's sweat

    was hiked up tanned shanks.

    He stood spread eagle to prevent

    piss from splashing his sandals.

    A hand on one hip, another pointed

    his water to puddle into a sand stain.

    Speeding by in our cool blue car,

    we cruised along the hot tarmac.

    Our driver pushed the pedal to

    tuck us in safely before nightfall.

    Through my rearview mirror, where objects

    may be closer than they appear, I stole a

    backward glance at the man pissing in the

    sand. Fading fast, I spied him, hauling

    himself up on a kneeling camel. Undulating

    awkwardly, they loped away toward

    a distant dune. As in a memory flash,

    near Al Ain, the two faded into mirage.

    Neither the hot sand nor the nomad's

    stance seemed droll or bizarre to us

    in the cool car. Not mere curiosity, nature's

    urgent call bound him to us magically.


       (Near Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 2004)





Freedom a distant gleam


Abu Dhabi women stand in a half-circle, eyes peering

at us through a small slit or oval opening in their head

wraps or shemagh scarves. Like baby penguins huddled

in creches for strength, the women watch expectantly from

the safety of a protected world. Light brown, blank faces

radiate warmly in cameo relief against black fabric folds

engulfing them. The dishdasha overwhelms the women,

tsunami-like, inhibiting their movement, their souls and wills.


          (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 2004)





Crane Forests circa 2006


From my high-rise hotel, I watch the waters of

the Arabian Gulf gently nudge the shores of beaches

swiftly disappearing from erosion made by machines.

Frenetic crane forests stand in the sands of the Emirates,

casting shadows like giant yellow praying mantises at midnight

and during the noonday prayers. Gleaming glass skyscrapers,

children of the mating cranes, are rooted in spaces

where Lawrence of Arabia might have miraged into real.

Night and day, day and night, tall booms--skeletal sinews of

steel--jerk and sway like oversized toys in a grainy, flickering

grade-B film. Arabian nights fade into light

from artificial amber,

two-hump camels are replaced by SUVs, whose hard-hat


swagger, tattoos glisten, pony-tails flap in warm Gulf breezes.

Crane forests multiply overnight, eat their mates, quickly die.


        (Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2006)





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