If Religion Wasn’t Material: Latitude 35.16, Longitude -5.26

If we all had ten thousand mothers each
dropping lucky pennies into gushing
fountains bubbling from hidden abysses
to quench all thirsts, imagine our communal

riches acquired on the Midas touch of trusting
desire, deleting religion, turning moral judging
into competitive sport made the worst wishes
come true. She asked the dealer, Do you take

American Express? Gold tooth aglitter as
he pulled the sacred machine from his pocket.
an untouchable promise—if you hold you win,
if you own you win, if you own more you win

better. Better is all that matters these days. Better.
The flag and cross are horrible disguises for weapons.

Alighting a bus in Chefchaouen on August 2nd 1990, a platoon of prepubescent urchins snatch my rucksack from the bus roof. Hot pursuit erupted. Didn’t hear the starting pistol. No idea the finish line might be a Riff Mountain peak. Sea blue tunnels waving and strobing sunset long before I could imagine favela architecture. I caught their giggles at the thick door of Ryad Atlas. Wood older than any written word. They touched my hair. I touched theirs. Just a game. Time to pay. At seventeen, no idea the importance of debt anyway. I had 180 dollars and two months before home dragged the tail between my legs, if I had one.

The hotelier, a portly Bedouin shakes my hand, American? No, I say. Good, CNN just invade Kuwait. Go very very very hot later. Tea? You mint tea? Hamid and I settle into pidgin French and educational weeks of chess and trail strolls and tagine lessons. Money no issue. Allah provide. I ask about Paul Bowles. Hamid quotes Rimbaud. Instructs respect for hash.

One late night or early morning, time was a sunray that month, when prayers kicked off and we’d kneeled head to Mecca, the rook, knight, castle, king, queen, and every single pawn on the planet bellydanced till belief was absolutely shared and confirmed.

David Morgan O’Connor is from a small village on Lake Huron called Grand Bend. After many nomadic years, he is based in Albuquerque, where a short story collection progresses. He contributors monthly to The Review Review and NewPages. His writing has appeared in Barcelona Metropolitan, Collective Exiles, Across the Margin, Headland, Cecile’s Writers Magazine, Bohemia, Beechwood, Fiction Magazine, After the Pause, The Great American Lit Mag (Pushcart nomination), The New Quarterly and The Guardian. Tweeting @dmoconnorwrites. His website: http://davidmorganoconnor.com.

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