Poems by Jeff Schiff


Ode to Muezzins

Muezzins used to climb the minaret to make the call to prayer…
(after Stefan Kaegi)
Oh to be on call five times daily
and feat days
ready to roll

cocksure in your three-balled
alabaster minaret outpost
honeyed and hyssoped throat

nose to the windscreen
positioned just so
between your faith

and a vintage Shure 55SW anodyne mic
an array of Electrovoice P.A. horns
aimed in reminder

or threat
down the cascading alleys
and nouveau riche boulevards


Call to Prayer

through sleep
if you can call it that
or the latency of jetlag

through sunrise spidering its way
over riven parapets
through cul-de-sac curlicue

and chilled warrens
Bab El Menzah to Bab Doukkala
the minaret blare

the loudspeaker ricochet
the Most Merciful’s
heaven to earth dispatch

the muezzin
Allah’s play by play man
hastening the faithful

and those with no choice
Allahu Akbar
God is the greatest

Praise the Most Merciful
Allahu Akbar
Praise he of 99 names


The Bestower
The Boundless
The Majestic

And so on and so forth
and so be it
dear infidel



in expert grandfathers
in apprenticed youngsters
from burkaed women

through gauzy and layered removal
and slitted you are not our kind

beamed from just shut doors
from turn to face the wall
from huddle tighter

against my perusal
my contamination
in the cheek sough

and jowly grimace
the phlegmy disdain
and ancient gnashing

the rasping refusals to cede
in the no room for the likes of you

adamant trot
stay their intended course
through the saturated souk

or walking just the two of us
in a sea of tarmac nothing
empty streets

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In addition to That hum to go by (Mammoth books, 2012), Jeff Schiff is the author of Mixed Diction, Burro Heart, The Rats of Patzcuaro, The Homily of Infinitude, and Anywhere in this Country. Over two hundred poems of his have appeared internationally in nearly a hundred periodicals, including The Alembic, Grand Street, The Ohio Review, Poet & Critic, Tampa Review, The Louisville Review, Tendril, Pembroke Magazine, Carolina Review, Chicago Review, Hawaii Review, Southern Humanities Review, River City (The Pinch), Indiana Review, Willow Springs, and The Southwest Review. He is currently Interim Dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Columbia College Chicago.


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