April 4, 2015


Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. (Hon.) in Drama and English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry has been published variously in Canada, USA, England, Greece, Romania, Israel, and India. www.brandonmarlon.com.

Commander of the Faithless

“At the sound of the ancients
do not bend the knee,” said he.
I meant to overturn my tenets—honestly.

Yet without the ability to discriminate
between what is valuable and what is not,
all the world goes to rot, I thought.

Who will teach we who would learn
how to discern froth from milk,
chaff from wheat, husk from kernel,
dross from metal?

Behind his practiced smile
I sensed the charlatan’s wiles.
If his ideas were really scientific,
why did they seem so childish?
Unsatisfied with speculation’s paltry returns,
I yearned for more hopeful horizons
and by degrees understood
not all developments are improvements.

Now I sorrow and despond
at the actuality of throngs
looking without seeing,
convinced of hogwash’s purity,
confident in folly, in abject thrall
to self-anointed saviours
in this gutted age of disbelief.


A People’s Prayer

The world views
indigenes as relics of the past,
liabilities of the present,
overly resilient when it comes to endurance.

We are regarded as fossils or ghosts;
they say we have had our time in the sun.

May we remember survivors
should never cower
to accommodate grudging outsiders.
May we ever remain strong
and of good courage.

May we all inly allow
as individuals, as nation,
that without covenant
there is no commonwealth;
without betrothal no birthright;
without endowment no entitlement;
without foundation no futurity.

May we all not only recognize
our collective heritage
but claim our personal inheritance;
not only learn our history
but live our identity.

May we all acknowledge
longevity’s key
is a meaningful legacy.

Without, let there be not
merely solidarity but unity;
within, unity without
uniformity or unanimity.

These our hopes, dry as of yet,
we continually nurse in our hearts.

Son of none, can these words live?

Mahdi in the Hammam

Perspiration moistens his lengthy beard,
steamed into lush density,
as he prostrates himself on watery tiles
ornamented with arabesques.
Amid the mist I glimpse his pale visage
with deep-set charcoal eyes
and a broad forehead with few wrinkles,
the face of infinite patience.
In the select company of his chosen ones,
the Twelfth Imam stands up,
pacing and mumbling from sauna fever,
suffering from occultation.
“Now I feel ready,” he finally announces,
gaping up toward the skylight,
tossing his bath towels at luxuriating aides,
disrupting bagnio reveries.
Astounded and coughing among vapors,
they scramble to their feet,
fumbling through shower gel and body wash
for the oils of anointment.


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