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In This Blind Alley

by AHMAD SHAMLU

24 Jul 2010 21:28Comments
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They smell your mouth

Lest you've told someone 'I love you.'

They smell your heart

These are strange times, my dear

Love,

they drag out under lampposts

to thrash.

Love must be hid in closets at home.

In the cold of this blind alley

They keep their fires ablaze

burning our anthems and poems.

Do not venture to think.

These are strange times, my dear

He who pounds on the door in the nighttime

Has come to kill the light.

Light must be hid in closets at home.

Lo! the butchers

stationed on roads

with chopping-board and cleaver soaked in blood

These are strange times, my dear

They slit smiles off of lips

And song from the throat.

Joy must be hid in closets at home.

Canaries are being roasted

on a spit of lilacs and jasmine

These are strange times, my dear

Satan, triumph-drunk

Feasts at a table spread with our mourning

God must be hid in closets at home.

This poem was written shortly after the 1979 Revolution.

Translated by Saya Ovaisy in Tehran, Summer 2009
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