M. Shayne Bell 

In Isfahan at Hasht Behesht, he played a hammered dulcimer.
The master of the gates had said: “Make way— a hammered dulcimer.”

He played upon the walls until the Moon and stars gave way to Sun:
nine dervish danced till daybreak to obey a hammered dulcimer.
He played in mansions of the rich; he played in hovels of the poor—
in prisons, and for all the sick who pray: “A hammered dulcimer!”
And you to whom each night I bring three lilies or an iris white,
tonight unto this courtyard: for bouquet, a hammered dulcimer.

And you to whom that music brought new joy, and were it gone away,
I would from cold Sikkim or far Cathay— a hammered dulcimer.


M. SHAYNE BELL received a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (1991). His poem, “One Hundred Years of Russian Revolution," was a finalist for the Rhysling Award (1989). His poetry has been published in The Fibonacci Review, The Ghazal Page, Shot Glass Journal, Dialogue, Sunstone, Amazing Stories, Asimov’s, etc. Bell also publishes science fiction, and has been a finalist for the Hugo and Nebula awards. He received a first place Writers of the Future award (1990).

Ed. note: Hasht Behesht is a palace completed in the 1600s in the Iranian city of Isfahan. Explore pictures here.