At the Same Dead End

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Digging through trash,
I smell the whiskey
on Shamlu’s breath.
It’s not so strange.
He once stood here
recording the rhythm
of the butcher’s cleaver
like a journalist
for Satan’s newspaper.
In the ash of lilies
and the charred remains
of tortured canaries,
I open a tin can
of dried vegetables,
find a beating heart.
If you follow the trail
of Shamlu’s last words
a little more literally,
it’s not so strange.
He promised he’d send
his love into hiding.

Translated from the Persian
by Roger Sedarat