Three Poems by Steffen Horstmann

Ghazal of the Vanished World

Winds glistened where the gods of the Masai existed,
When silver clouds in a translucent sky existed.

Cherry blossoms float through a mountain pavilion,
Where the shrine of the last Samurai existed.

The drums of Aborigines summoned throngs of bees
From a meadow where an ancient kowhai existed.

Wandering prophets became whirlwinds of light
When the crystal temples of Veii existed.

The shadows of lions appear in drifting sands
Where winds that mimicked the gazelle's cry existed.

Bashõ prayed encircled by chrysanthemums,
When the secret oasis of Sakai existed.

The rain pastes plum petals on temple walls
Where the Zen gardens of Hokusai existed.

Sibylla's chameleon robe shimmered as she spoke
Of a world that vanished before I existed.



The Sikandra Djinns

Winds shriek in lands from which sages expelled them−
Reciting in the night spells that repelled them.

Caravels were smashed by surging swells as torrents
Thrashed the temples of the king that expelled them.

Wakened from the trance of a pavilion bell's chime,
Ravana's breath formed sciroccos that dispelled them.

Flames formed in the eyes of winged-djinns screeching
As gales streamed in fast clouds that propelled them.

Sparks pulse like fireflies, rising from stone lanterns
Emitting the sacred incense that repelled them.



from The Diva of Jalsaghar

The voices of gods spoke
In the dreams of Begum Akhtar.

Become the translucent rain
Glazing bo-trees in Kamar.

Become shimmering sands veiling
Sacred ruins in Jhanar.

Become lotus-shaped clouds floating
Above temples in Kassar.

Become Himalayan snow swirling
At the shrines of saints in Shamar.

Become the sapphire sky 
Blossoming with rainbows in Qatar.

Become the resplendent estuaries
Brimming with moonlight in Danar.

And listen for the phoenix's shriek
Echoing through forests in Tajar.

Listen for the soft hum of fireflies,
Pulsing like sparks in the glades of Shivar.

Listen for the nightingale's notes
Floating through the twilight in Fahar.

Become chinar leaves falling in clusters
Upon palace courtyards in Amar.

Become the murmuring sea heard
In the desert winds of Tamar.

Become the dunes of whitest gypsum
Caressed by zephyrs crossing Madar.

Become brilliant ice-sculptures
Melting like glaciers in Makar.

Become white fire bursting
From the corona of a star.

Become the night's hair black & thick in Shiva's hands.
Become the light that sparkles upon the Gobi's white sands.