Islamabad Marriott

in from the dust he's blonde and blueeyed, stranger here

among the endless sprawling urban mass, this raw unsteady place

of corners and stone. he smokes a cigarette in front of the lobby doors.

this is not a country for anxious men; seismic patterns

echo uncertainty below the whisper-thin shell of familiar earth-

shifting tectonic wonder as above, the city burns its way

nightward.

the educated functionaries disguise their accents and donate

poor currency to the madrassas on their way home from work.

only the army has steady money and that might matter more

than anything; their parents' education, childhood trips to the gulf-

theoretical constructs fall apart to nothing as the rains come,

and the soldiers speed on out to the open country, mountain-

roots shuddering beneath this ancient earth.

he pushes out his dying ash and grinds it into the cement,

thinking back to home where you could get a bourbon any time of day. night.

his throat burns in memory for a bitter moment, but he shoves it back

and walks inside, all dark eyes raised for a space of time,

infinite as the heat snakes in the open doorway, a flock of seconds enough

for the worst to happen, but the door closes and everybody looks down as he passes

two men mutter to themselves, cloaked language,

but he understands it, and he laughs a little

as he heads up to his room.