Poem introduction

'The Yellow Palm' is a poem that really describes my experiences on Al-Rashid street in Baghdad when I was walking up and down Al-Rashid street in 1998. It's a ballad, it's an Audenesque kind of ballad with Audenesque rhymes.

The Yellow Palm

The Yellow Palm

As I made my way down Palestine Street
I watched a funeral pass -
all the women waving lilac stems
around a coffin made of glass
and the face of the man who lay within
who had breathed a poison gas.

As I made my way down Palestine Street
I heard the call to prayer
and I stopped at the door of the golden mosque
to watch the faithful there
but there was blood on the walls and the muezzin's eyes
were wild with his despair.

As I made my way down Palestine Street
I met two blind beggars
And into their hands I pressed my hands
with a hundred black dinars;
and their salutes were those of the Imperial Guard
in the Mother of all Wars.

As I made my way down Palestine Street
I smelled the wide Tigris,
the river smell that lifts the air
in a city such as this;
but down on my head fell the barbarian sun
that knows no armistice.

As I made my way down Palestine Street
I saw a Cruise missile,
a slow and silver caravan
on its slow and silver mile,
and a beggar child turned up his face
and blessed it with a smile.

As I made my way down Palestine Street
under the yellow palms
I saw their branches hung with yellow dates
all sweeter than salaams,
and when that same child reached up to touch,
the fruit fell in his arms.

 


copyright © Robert Minhinnick 2006, used by permission of the author

Recordings

Robert Minhinnick

Robert Minhinnick Downloads

1St John's Sunflowers

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2Sageflowers for Charles Saatchi

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3The Yellow Palm

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4Twenty Five Laments for Iraq

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5Madonna in Porthcawl

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6The Cormorant

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7Paradise

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8The Fox in the National Museum of Wales

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9Eavesdropping

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10Tickertape (from 'La Otra Otrilla')

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11The Castaway

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12Section from Lives of the Saint

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Books by Robert Minhinnick