Poem for Forugh Farrokhzad

adapted after the Urdu by Parveen Shakir

Rehan Qayoom

This day the chief jurist has admitted
That the crop of sinners is ripe once again
Go tell the Shah’s council
All tyrants await
With baited breath
His Highness’ verdict
So they can serve in holy reverence – To carry out the command
To choose who to behead who to topple off their pedestal
Whose hands to sever, whose tongue to slice out
Whose livelihood is to be discontinued
Where to entice the hungry, with food they cannot have
Where to distribute pardons
Where to proclaim the edicts
Of death, by stoning
How many pre-pubescent girls,
Are to be gang-raped by generals (on bloodied bed sheets)

Which petty criminals are to be posted
At the Plaza Square staring at its ever flowing fountains
How many innocents to drag to the gallows and the hangman’s noose
Your Highness may command as he wills!
I beseech this much
That the Royal Statements be kept
Confined to Private Conversation
Otherwise
There’ll be legal hurdles!

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