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