Patrick Pfister


Three Kurds scrape paint off

the Iranian Consulate lobby

impregnating the air


with a fine green dust.

I cough and choke but Mustafa

smiles and says, “She loves me.”


Patience: the white silk noose

worn like a scarf

round a Sufi’s neck.


My heart is set

on a transit visa while his

awaits a fax from Cairo

a sweetheart as precious

as a “golden gazelle.”

At night we watch seagulls


swoop gleaming minarets

like the feathered souls

of Byzantine saints.


Hours rush to become days

in this city of slow centuries

but Mustafa’s resolve endures.


“She loves me,” he sings.

Meanwhile the Kurds keep

chip- chipping paint


until a red stamp thumps

my visa petition: “Rejected.”

The next day Cairo arrives.


Mustafa reads his fax, clutches

his throat and whispers:

“She loves me not.



Patrick Pfister is the author of two books of travel literature: Pilgrimage: Tales from the Open Road and Over Sand & Sea.  His work has been selected for several Travelers’ Tales anthologies, including Best Travel Writing 2007.  His poetry has appeared in numerous literary magazines such as Pearl, Juked, flashquake, Chiron Review and elsewhere.  For the last twenty years he has lived in Barcelona, Spain.  Visit his website at