From the archives, ‘Tarneeb’ is my first try at writing a Ghazal. Hope you enjoy!

King of hearts Arab playing cards by Piatnik (pinterest.com)

In a bāzār sat four Persian Sheiks, nock-knees under the table                             

playing Tarneeb—none willing to lose a single pisar.

Fearing their wives beating them into agar, the Sheiks eyed the dough on the table,

which could buy nine of the prettiest Magars.

As the sun drooped and the moon hung blue, the Sheiks stayed at the table,       

though their zawjat’s came to hit them with flippered shoes.

Shoes flew across faces like flipping fishes, wet thuds across the table        

while the Sheiks refused to move a hip, moveless like ships left amiss.

Hours turned to days as they played. Cobwebs strung over the table,                     

the players became fable for next May’s bāzār.

The zawjat’s, incensed by their husbands-of-late, created a plan across the table:        

ladling themselves across their husbands, whispering coo’s to mate.

The rich fools continued: Little did they know, staying at the table                                

they upturned their marriages, and were discontinued.

Like manatees their vulgar bodies bulged across the table,                               

barring locals from walking through the pan-and-tea bāzār,

Squandering stakes upon the table,                               

the Sheiks wandered home, but they were unable

to find their wives. None were at their tables,                                                   

for all had ran away with a hajjar!

© Thomas Gallimore Barker 2021



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