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     Ode to an Ayatollah

My sister, raped and beaten
Shot, for walking with her husband
on the street (without a license)
A prostitute
and virgins raped again
lest foiling you in dying purity
they share your paradise

Ah Emperor, Ah Shah -
      this for the Compassionate
the Merciful !  Who is His Prophet ?
Now, I mean.
Vengeance is mine, says God,
I wait for it agog -
What vengeance for such
righteousness as yours ?
               such purity,
that finds a little hand
and tiny foot, obscenity
and riots ten year olds to war's intensity
and teaches little girls to hate.

I say,
I wait for it, this vengeance 
more than mine.
What could it be, that one man
might suffer in himself
  for these lives wasted?

What agony of yours
could not be mockery
of those sweet lovers of the earth
you blocked from breath and light?
This widower, this child?

I do not know -
        but know that
should I see, the merest first blow
offered to your back
that I would flinch
and turn away
nothing more brutal in the way
        of pain
some woman bore you
nine whole months of hope
and greeted you with joy
and cleaned your parts
        with pride.
Perhaps she spoke of "my son-
at university -
        so godly-
            exiled for his holiness
his wisdom, righteousness
        and comforted herself
        with kissing crumpled photos
in her black clothes closeted.

And for her sake, I wish you well
      and hope when you reach paradise
that for her love, who did that act
      that you abhor, creating you
      that that Compassionate, that Merciful
      shall clasp you to Her breast
        and suckled there by Holiness,
        Divinest Houri; you may learn at last
           to cry.

Alice Thorpe