The Djinni

This story is paired with “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” from 1001 Arabian Nights. For best experience, download the LithoReader for your iPhone or iPad and get NonBinary Review for free. 


The spring sunlight hits the diamond studded tears
that dangle from the silken Arabian arachnid web,
each strand a thousand and one poems
spun by the Scheherazade spider, as her

multi-faceted ruby gemstone eyes stare
at the tiny lamp held between her two forelegs,
while she rubs it with the fibrous tips
willing the djinni to come forth, to spring
from between the copper prison walls.

She wishes for the keys to Ali Baba’s
locked cave, to steal the gold inside
as he lies in his bed, fucking his slaves.

Done.

She wishes for a poet to come sing his lines
into her ears, lullaby her to the Dream,
syllables chanted in an iambic rhythm.

I appear, fresh from a supper at Sinbad’s table,
ears still salt damp from his voyages on distant seas.
I overcome irrational phobias, her body fibres
stick between my fingers, as I bend down,
whisper my songs, a thousand and one rubies close.

Done.

She wishes a partner for me, one who’ll love
not just the words, but the me, who’ll be keen
to let my scent ride her writhing tongue
to feel my sweat cool her summer body,
to brush the whitening hair over my ears.

The djinni, sits…thinks…thinks…thinks…
he goes back inside, locks the fucking gate.


NBR3TompkinsphotosmallNathan Tompkins is a poet and photographer living in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in several publications including Calliope Magazine, The Tishman Review, NonBinary Review, North West Words, and others. He is also the author of two chapbooks, Junk Mail of the Heart, and The Dog Stops Here.