Zouave (after Vincent van Gogh)

Fouad the Suave Zouave

Fouad the suave Zouave (after Vincent van Gogh)As his red pantaloons and braided blue vest,
his flowerpot fez and his manner attest.

He’s Fouad the suave Zouave.

 

All the girls sigh for his melting brown eyes,
All the boys copy his manner streetwise.

He’s Fouad the suave Zouave.

 

In the depths of the desert or on Paris streets,
By the coast of the Med or in between sheets,

He’s Fouad the suave Zouave.

 

He smokes his own roll-ups but always obeys,
Restrictions he thinks are a modern malaise.

He’s Fouad the suave Zouave.

 

Massage at the hamam, a shave, the steamroom,
A glass of mint tea and a dash of perfume.

He’s Fouad the suave Zouave.

 

Salam alaykum. Bonjour, habiba. Maa’ismik?
What’s your name? Je t’aime. Bahebbak.

He’s Fouad the suave Zouave.


This poem originally appeared as tweets on Twitter as a response to the Artwiculate word game, and then on TheSupercargo main website in 2010. I’m republishing it here with a new illustration (apologies to Vincent van G).

My Search Optimisation Software informs me that it is a bad idea to have less than 300 words in the body of a blog post, and that my keyword density is “over the advised maximum” – for that reason perhaps I should add a word or two more in this post-poem text. The zouaves were originally an infantry unit of the French army recruited in the French North African colonies. Whatever it’s origin or value on the battlefield, their colourful uniform was a magnet for artists – including Vincent van Gogh. Although zouave regiments were established in other armies (including the US during the American Civil War) I don’t believe there are any still to be found nowadays. Fouad is my idea of a typical zouave, suave (of course) with a combination of Gallic and Arabic charm, both a soldier and a lover.