a balance act

we came at last to an adobe square

sun-bleached and honeyed with busy voices.

barking market traders hawked their wares –

halite, tin and nugget-silver

mined from those blue and hazy mountains, 

caged birds, of many colours, uttered

(though we could not speak their language). 

spices sillaged the noon dry air and monkeys,

leashed, and feral children circled everywhere.

chiming women, hourglassed and gauzed  


the gaze of dim and wizened men  

whose stalls were spread with mason jars, mirrored glass, 

pots and trays, scales of brass and weights – a balance act 

or trapeze. a cabaret of purse strings drawn and open.

we listened to their barter trading off the whitewash walls

and, bedded beneath a trestle board, laid with sheets 

of oiled hemp, at the roughened feet of some dark merchant, 

we spent an hour sleeping, dreaming in the desert breeze, 

but hearing all – the shuffled coins, the muezzin’s lament; 

our own sweet lullaby – and all this was for free.


29 thoughts on “a balance act

    1. Ingrid, I spent a month in Turkey in 1986 (AD), taking in Ephesus, Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar, etc. I only have vague and general memories of these places – the smells and the hubbub in particular – but a long bus ride between Izmir & Istanbul, bordered, at one point, by vast cotton fields and those ‘blue, hazy mountains’ in the distance, remains as clear to me as a photograph. The way I tell it one would imagine I lived there for years (hmm)! But, I do dream of them occasionally. The sky beyond the bus glass was filled for one minute with cotton bolls, placing the time somewhere between July and early September.

      For some reason (the approach of Passover & Easter?), I have been thinking about John 2:13-16 recently. I also revisited Monty Python’s Life of Brian last week. I hope I don’t have a bad case of Jesus coming on 😉

      I do, however, recall seeing a small tortoise lumbering among the ruins of Ephesus and in some ways this is my enduring memory of the east (naturally!). I often wonder what became of her.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know much about Turkey beyond the Turkish Delight advert, but I heard the Eastern Promise in your words! Seriously, I would love to visit Istanbul. I think I have Jesus fever too: Romans 8:36, KJV. Strange times! x

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Hey Nick….we appear to be having a Communication Breakdown! Your message to me went into spam, then when I tried to reply, it was returned as address invalid/not found/rejected..whatever computer speak for we are not going to deliver this note back to Nick. So, foiled again. I thought I would try and say hello here. Oh yes, thought you ight need to know it says “unable to receive mail”. I see what you mean about your poem scanning better with Yoko before Patti, but the point remains my contrary new friend, Patti should always go first. She IS Gloria, after all!
    It does indeed appear that art and tech are the new rock n roll, though I am not putting my guitar down just yet. Enjoying your blog, Nick! Thanks for writing. Lets see if this one gets through!


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