I live in Baghdad. I had a million dollars.
After that last bad investment, I live in squalor.
Still got a grandiose house, but it’s run down.
Jackals take possession of it promptly at sundown,
on account of the holes in the walls. So, I sleep in the yard.
Huddled by the fountain, ground is keeping it hard.
I’d be deeply alarmed if I weren’t so depressed.
Keep an eye on the stars, I guess. Get some rest.
As I drift off, feel like I hear a voice whispering,
“Despair in due time, take comfort in the interim.”
I’m listening. “Step to the west in the early air.
Your fortune is in Cairo. Regain it if you journey there.”
Oh no, I don’t know if I could trust a dream.
Has one ever been what it seems?
Oh no, I don’t know if I could trust a dream,
what it keeps on promising.
Cairo is quite a ways away.
I’m hitch-hiking on carts, got my vulnerable parts displayed:
my neck, my hope, and my desperation.
By the time I get to Damascus, half sick with exasperation
at my own propensity for delusion.
Some dreams are visions, but only illusions.
And with my sandal worn to nothing, wander past a pyramid.
This is Cairo, isn’t it? Wonder where my treasure’s hid?
It isn’t in front of me. Well, okay. I take a seat,
get arrested immediately for vagrancy.
This my reward for venturing abroad:
chuck me in the clink, lash me to sleep with a palm rod.
Three days later, dragged before the magistrate,
thirty-fifth most important dude in the caliphate.
Asks me why I came so far if I’ve got nothing
to my name but my gumption. I explain how I’ve got crushing
doubts, about my faith in a voice that had come in the night.
He laughs in my face, his hind teeth are bright white.
Says he had that dream — of Baghdad — thrice,
and the voice in it, offering specific advice:
“Seek a high style manor where a jackal is lord,
dig up a fortune in the courtyard.” This he ignored,
as he assured me any wise man would. Guess I’m silly, then.
Back to Baghdad, unearth my new millions.