Blackbox Manifold

Issue 10: Josh Ekroy

Babur’s Tulips

– we fringe the skirts of the mountains’ peaty

meadows – our heads agree with the brisk winds -

Babur commands that our varieties

be counted – we’re thirty-two, including

the rose-scented and the nine-hundred-leaved –

he loves death’s faces – velveteen-armed boys –

black nazwar – harram to Sunnis’ unsaved

souls – but we are not harram – no, not us –

us he gives to catamites in token

of his immortal lust – our stamens shape

his passion – mad, he carries two men – runs –

one on each shoulder through us up the slope –

from crimson heads he makes traffic pillars –

we salaam to corpses in the downpours


Some Useful Phrases

I have run out of petrol. Good evening. The

slaty frown of a storm gathers on the Hindu Kush.

How are you? Sticky warmth fills the room.

I am hungry. I am twenty-three. Pleased to meet

you. It is hot but the summer ought to have left

six weeks ago. Water is the main difficulty

of such a journey as sufferers from syphilis

of the throat are apt to spit in the wells.

The road to Kabul is closed and in any case

I have run out of petrol. Drop your weapon.

Please. May I look at it? There is the sound

of partridges clucking. God is Great. Take

six paces forward. Take cognisance. Take five.

Put your hands on the fridge. How much is that?

Josh Ekroy He is published in magazines, online and in anthologies including The Best of British Poetry 2011 (Salt).