Gingerbread House Lit Mag

When Libraries Burn

When a storyteller dies
            A library burns”
-Moroccan Proverb

There are no more storytellers in the Jemaa El Fna.
They couldn’t compete with the electric music
or the din of the capitalist game.
Sellers call higher and the tourists lower,
sweet Morocco sucking in money
to feed its families.

There’s no more magic in the market place:
snake charming’s a cheap trick,
fortune-tellers just fools in fancy clothes.
All the carpets are grounded
and the lamps scraped clean of genie,
leaving only cheap and hollow brass.

You don’t love the woman walking by your side
like you used to—but you get along
and passion seems a rare thing anyway.
Marrakech’s red stone and blue sky fade into one,
the sun less warm on your skin,
the world through a traveller’s camera with contrast dialled down.

There’s no more magic in us people.
No more intrepid adventures,
just ignorant gawkers whiling away their western paychecks.
No more lovable rogues,
just African scammers following a set routine.
Here in the Jemaa El Fna,
all us beggars and thieves
are nothing more
than beggars and thieves.

Rab Ferguson

Rab Ferguson is a York based writer of fiction and poetry, whose writing can be found in journals such as Litro Magazine, the Cadaverine, VoiceIn and Storgy. He is also a performing storyteller, and works within youth theatre. For more of Rab’s work, visit

Artwork:  Raphael Von Ambros, “A Cairene Merchant,” 1890, public domain.


This entry was published on April 30, 2016 at 12:04 am and is filed under 18 (April 2016), Archive, Poetry. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
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