Straight off the camera, onto the page, direct from Luxor a few years back. Stunning sunsets and peace and quiet…but only when you stay within the confines of the hotel. Outside, in the hustle and bustle (hustle being the operative word!) of the town, it’s anything but peaceful! Whilst nobody threatens you, there is a distinct air of tension about the place.
And who can blame the vendors? I’ve not been back to Luxor since the ‘revolution’…that would be the revolution that has torn Cairo apart and all but completely wiped-out the tourist industry that 80% of the Egyptian population relied upon.
There use to be 350 river boats cruising the Nile from Luxor to Aswan. These days, at last count, there were 9. And those vendors, in places like Komombo and Edfu, who were ever hard-pushed to scrape a living, are now even more desperate. What was once a safe and fascinating place to visit is now…bereft. People remain in their hotels – if they go to Egypt at all – and the tourist trade is vastly and catastrophically reduced.
And so the educated elite have their ‘freedom’; the politicos have their ‘honour’ satisfied and the dictators have their feet back under the table via a roundabout route. But the vast majority of ordinary Egyptians, who want nothing more than to earn a living, albeit meagre at the best of times, have now had the worst of times visited upon them by the very people they thought would be different.
FORGIVE MY SELF-INDULGENCE, BUT THIS IS FOR THEM:
AS WE FALL
Can you hear them?
Can you hear the tears?
So lonely the sound they make
As they fall;
As we fall,
Wherever there may be a mem’ry that still lives,
Wherever there may be a time and place,
Wherever there maybe a person who forgives,
That’s the person that I need to see, the face
That will remind me of the things that slipped away,
As night slips through the fingers of the day.
Wherever there may be a kiss that can be spared
The thoughtless breath that gives it life and hope,
Wherever there maybe a dream to show me that you cared,
Let me sleep so long that I may hear the note
That echoes in the timeless way of things we thought we’d lost
In fires of envy, loneliness and frost
Wherever there maybe a single footprint in the sand,
That fits me like the coat I used to wear,
Wherever there maybe the warmth of sure and loving hands
That hold and touch and tell me that you care
For nothing more than what we were and what we might have been,
And what we heard
And why we loved
And how we should have seen.
Tell me how the soft spring rain, rainbow-heavy with the sun,
Tumbles through the pines and mists the air;
Tell me how the winter snow sits light upon the fence and
Reflects the midnight moon upon its gloss;
Tell me that the autumn leaves aren’t burning as they fall,
Tell me that they’re dead, that they don’t care;
Tell me that the summer breeze will sing as it runs by,
A song of love and leaving, light and loss.
Tell me how it would have been, tell me stories, tell me true.
Tell me how it should have been, as the fable grew and grew.
See me falling out of darkness to some kind of pagan truth
Where skeletons are cupboard-less and dance;
See me scuffing through the ruins of another blatant lie and
See me sifting through the colours, for a tone
Meant nothing to the followers of a misbegotten word
That offered them a slim-line second chance,
And they’re raiding all the archives of divinity, my friend,
For the need to eat the words and bury bones.
See me hold the poisoned jester and deny the righteous clown,
Past and future, and their opposites, you can never pin them down.
Feel me breathing, feel me writhing, feel me wish for nothing more
Than to breath and feel and throw against the odds.
You can clothe me in whatever cloth you think will suit me best
But I’ll wear fear and caution, midnight, flesh and bone;
I’ll wear fantasy, futility, I’ll strip tangled lives and hope
From the dreamers who are monsters, men and gods.
And if talking to the enemy, whatever form it takes,
Can banish all the doubt, turn it to stone,
See me listen to the answers and then take just what I need,
See me cut the throat of terror, stand and watch it as it bleeds.
You could say that it was meant to be,
You could say so many things.
You could run to me or I to you,
And wishes might grow wings.
And the black dog that has shadowed
All the minutes of our lives,
Could turn and walk away and not look back.
We could ignore the longing
And the loneliness that cries
Of all the things we want,
The things we think we lack
I have stored my dreams in silent hope,
I thought them dead, or dying,
I have seen this happen many times,
Of this, there’s no denying.
And the black dog that has shadowed
Every single breath I took
Will still be there for everyone to see,
And I think that we will meet again,
Some place between here and there,
A special place, wherever ‘there’ may be…