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We opened the box and smoked one of the famous Tabriz cigarettes

May 24, 2002
The Iranian

He was drained. Scared green. His appetite was gone as he ran his comb through his straight, insipid English hair, a kettle was warming on the coals. Hell and damnation he was in Maghbarat-ol-Sho'ara (Tomb of Poets) with red and gold turban. The poets were stuffed with honey, their urine smelled of violets. Their poetry in scared riddles of blue caligraphy on white tiles were fueled by a perpetual poppy high of spring toffee.

The first night in Tabriz I had tucked him inside his bed under the mosquito netting. To help him sleep I read him the story of Ranee who was turned into a tiger. Even hiding behind the door and making tiger noises and playing with his toeses. We played "Brown Sugar" served up by the Rolling Stones as an encore, Ruddy had delusions of becoming an infinite white star, a Newton illusion.

Naked he was white on both sides a closeup of an English Victorian. He was utterly overwhelmed by the gloomy indirectness of his cigarette holder in cherry-wood. It had belonged to his granfather Gunga Din! Yes, Din! Din! Din!I pocketed the treasure.

It was Spring with tall grasses and wild pinks. We opened the box and smoked one of the famous Tabriz cigarettes filled with pale amber powdered poppies. The sensation of Afghan Khans ridding purple horses holding blue roses galloped across the grass as we bolted the door.

Papa and Mama, full of novicaine, had expelled him in a pristine, digital phantom of rickshaws from Bombay throwing Ruddy spinning, falling, beaten at five, don't look back, to England to live with Madam Rosa. He had started on a note of pure rock that turned into Baa Baa Black Sheep. He might as well have been buried in semi-pagen rites when Madam Rosa, awful in black crape, came into his life. Left behind the soundtrack of Papa and Mamma in Bombay sitting like old frogs on floating lily pads in May. He missed them terribly and garlic smells. He ate a big dish of Koofie Tabriz and smoked a joint in a breeze with the Tzar of Russia who was a slob when he sneezed.

What's that big bird on the fence?

What bird? Asked Black Sheep.

The visitor looked deep down into Black Sheep's eyes and then said suddenly:Good God, the little chap's nearly blind!There was a chance of another beating. Madam Rosa had said he ought to be beaten by a man. Tinkly bicycle bells reminded him of temple bells and elephants dressed in gold and damask, no such luck. He dreamed of being guillotined like Jahanshah who built the Blue Mosque in Tabriz. Where ladders and ghosts were croutching by the gaslights armed with nail scissors cutting off buttons from German officers uniforms who had one leg amputated in the Great War. His infantile sexual fantasies in the dream streets of Tabriz wrapped him in a veil of illusion when one became two in Persian profusion.

The bicycle bells, flea-ridden donkeys, mollahs and carts full of watermelons clogged the streets as we searched for a chelow-kababi. We were back on our bicycles, the wind ruffled Ruddy'shair and scarf, France declared war on Prussia, he spoke Persian he learned in India.

He wanted to sing his poetry at dawn with a flute and drum but he had too many boils and blisters wearing a crown of grapes wrapped in leopard skin incoherent stolen from an Indian King, pleasantly inconsistent.

We bicycled in the rain on the Prominade of Shahgol escaping the limitations of the personal ans soared beyond our black drawstring sweatpants in the shadow of the old Sahand mountains where the eternal fire of Zaratushtra burned. Thunder flashed across the sky, a blueprint for Kipling to sing his Certain Maxims of Hafiz at a reception for the Prince of Wales. Alone under a chandelier in the center of a large pool of gleaming parquet, he kut a giant spatket.

Kipling came to Tabriz for white doves, blue mosques, black poppies and mosquito bites. He had lost heaven only after a glimpse in Bombay. We decided to build a purifying bonfire and burn all we owned sending up sparks of burning wood and smoke our pipes filled with the sweet roasted hazelnut aroma of Tabriz poppies before we were whipped with a belt on the butt by a Mollah.

So that's pretty much how the idea originated. We gathered a whole crowdof Tabrizis:a greengrocer, a taxi driver, a man who wore plastic slippers, a junior high school teacher who played the santour within the magic circle by the river of Talkheh Rud. Ruddy read his poem Wee Wee Willie Winkle on the old bridge of Chehel Dokhtar. We sat together arounf the fire with Ruddy sitting on a stool with a cigarette between his fingers under the full Tabriz moon. We drank beer, the froth vanished and we wiped our faces with a hot towel. We talked about cherry blossoms famous in Spring in Tabriz, the price of land, passport photos, rain and stars above the Blue Mosque before the appearance of Mars.

Ruddy sang "No More Tears" from Ozzy's album "Mama I'm Coming Home". He lost his son John in the battle of Loos in 1915 Great War, scared shitless. A big fuck. After that he moved as thick and slow as lava and wailed like he was under six feet saliva. It was justifiable to have foil stripes to streak his hair, enough to knock his head off. He smelled his skull and lots of garlic in Tabriz. As a last minute addition he sang the Jungle Book playing the cobra. In a throbbing protopunk screaming fuck off, we had to melt Nine Inch Nails to pry him out of the rough stuff.

Finally words failed him and I was left with him feeling sad about phenomenally not being a white star. When I wasn't cutting his toenails I felt the same way. One of us needed to be put on the couch being touched by a star.

Anyone could believe otherwise but when Ruddy died he was buried in a lovely moment sticking his tongue out at Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey. His coffin was a catchall among old auto parts and broken hearts pickled with a perforated duodenum in a glass jar in the great Abbey Hall.

On the jar label was written:RUDYARD KIPLING TABRIZI
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