By Ashk Schwartz


The day I was fired by the government

I smoked a joint and drank three pints of cider.

“God is good.  It is a beautiful night.”

I walked home, after reading Wallace Stevens,


To stare at a photo of Baba Reshat Bardhi

Grand World Dede of the Bektashi order,

Beloved teacher of two million Albanian Sufis,

Standing beside the country’s heroic Mufti


Hafiz Sabri Koci, whose hands blessed me

After his 28 years in a Communist prison.

I looked in Baba’s eyes and saw California.

For there are three worlds: generous Africa


Which I have yet to know, Europe with America

As far east as Kansas City, Missouri –

And then the rest: the earth of ecstatic dreamers

Indians, Siberians, Muslim dervishes


Westward from the Rockies to the Albanian mountains.

Hafiz stands in black with his martyred face

In the white-draped fez of an imam

While Baba stares from under his high green turban


His beard wide, his sash decorated in gold

Befitting the wild priest of an ancient faith.

And that’s what he is:  sending the light of wisdom

Across the mountains, the steppes, and even an ocean


To me in California and in exile

In Washington, where dervishes go unknown.

I’m a shamanic child, I’ll never be other

Than the Uwaysi Sufi, the epileptic


Who learned to cure himself through words alone,

Through poetry, and through the love of others.

God is great.  It’s beautiful tonight.

In Wallace Stevens’ universe, and Allah’s world.


Washington, 25 June, 2002