For Safdar Hashmi
(People's Theatre Movement leader killed by political rivals, 1989)

The trickle of stories
is blood within the ear:
a good kid now someone's quick kill
The wife tramps streets
alone: still his Lotte
[In newsphotos she is Sezchuanese:
The Good Woman]

An actress grabs the limelight
to whisper here with your name
A painter postdates a canvas:
a blank cheque on the world
Crucifixions make good copy
this one was hush-hush
[like the first]

Two centurions aided grave-robbers
to spirit away the corpse.
Now what of the spirit?
Will there be a green tree
sprouting from the stalk
they hung you on?

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