from The Golden Horde Crosses The Endless Plain of Fortune

Evan McGarvey

Horde Rules

the golden horde inherited a love of arrows

the horde hunts among cypress trees

the horde fears only scorpions who stalk horses

the horde kills those who drink another man's horse's blood

the horde spares Jews, retains them as oracles

the horde celebrates only boys favored by sparrows

the horde prepares a julep of lemon, angur, and wine

the horde endorses only archery for women with daughters

the horde burns balconies

the horde burns everything taffeta

the horde feeds its scouts peacocks and caviar

the horde forbids poems ending in idle fortune

the horde is the hoof of the world

The Horde Reflects on Conversion

A white eye, dimpled chest, weak knees:
The body overcast with imperfection.

Of Frankish purity, we only know its failures:
beauty before use, gold shields and swords

before the quiet bow and the black standard arrow.
We know the wiser shapes.

A shallow chest and unsteady breath
become a scout to make a falcon blush.

An eyeless young boy:
a div on the anvil, a demon at work.

A bowlegged child:
a gold-maned horse's God.

We only need the willing, we only take those
whose bodies bear God's neglect.

The pure take a town and make
gold from the arm and the eye.

We string our times with one thousand lines of black.

The Horde in the Fifth Evening On the Endless Plain of Fortune

We begin hunting sheep. The sun has lowered
and, like other packs of animals where

male and female work in pairs, they hover
around their young and face the world there.

We'll meet them twice in three months' time:
First, by the large white river,

Second, on the black rind of the valley.
Mare's milk? That's a thing of the past.

We're the hoof of the world.
We set the fires that veil the air behind us.

Zal Reunites With His Wife

The yellow-eyed sheep leer at grass
Inside we sleep for days in a room by the sea.

Your clothes dry on the terrace,
linen, yellow; sandals, black.

After a love-shout one night
You roll to your side and speak:

"That martyr's name is used only in exclamation.
It breaks the carafe that holds the night's silence."

Comments on Rudaba in Labor

O she could have killed Zal when he only brought a feather for the pain;
She was held down by nurses in the royal bed, her uninterrupted,
lion of a child sharpened his body inside, and against, hers.

The nurses attend each limb. They clean her hands, her hair and her head.
Rudaba sees the mountains in the distance.
Sugar and jasmine swing from each nurse's belt.