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Month: January 2022

The Emperor Consults His Advisors

The emperor is worried:
first the plague, 
and now the council
of ministers turning 
against his favourite viceroy–
and what of the guilds–  
how can one trust those 
who build, weave or reap?
It’s time to take strong action: 
re-invade that northern region,
imprison a merchant 
from Bactria or Persia,
announce a horse sacrifice–
or better still, a pogrom; 
well placed fear 
yields division and hate– 

(We’ve done it before, sir,
 we know how it works:
just say the word,
and we’ll make it so.)
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‘If they are so mighty, let them snuff out the moon’

-writing from Tihar Jail, 
Umar Khalid quotes Faiz Ahmad Faiz 

In the photos the young lovers post,
they are smiling as they sip 
from the same bottle of cola,
they are sharing a plate of chaat,
they are sitting on a seesaw, 
under the bright, 
winter moon. 
Some nights he says, 
I’m cold, please warm 
my hands. Some nights 
she says, Let us pray 
now for Umar Khalid;
I hear he is lonely inside.
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