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Iranian morality policeman photographed from behind standing guard while monitoring an area in Tehran
Photo: Getty Images

BooksApril 28, 2023

The Friday Poem: ‘Dear baton-wielders for the morality police,’ by Sue Wootton

Iranian morality policeman photographed from behind standing guard while monitoring an area in Tehran
Photo: Getty Images

A new poem by Dunedin poet Sue Wootton.

Dear baton-wielders for the morality police,

what kind of skull gives the most
satisfying crack? A girl’s perhaps,
the bone beneath her braids abuzz
with her-thought? A boy’s, equally
inclined to own-song? His head,
her head: laboratories for dream
and reason, spinning globes. Dear
baton-wielders for the morality police,
how should we swaddle their minds,
how thick, and in what acceptable
cloth? Dear baton-wielders,
honourable custodians, I want to love
my neighbour, but when my neighbour
is on my very shoulder inspecting the cut
of my hat, this is hard. Tell me wrong
from right, what should neighbours do
for neighbours? The human head can’t bear
a thousand crowns, when every skull’s
a broken vase for stardust, finally?
Dear baton-wielders, dear morality police,
do the satisfactions of your work bring you good
sleep? Stamping out the brushfire
in their songbone brains, just
to bed them properly: cold
and mute. Curls concealed, dear
baton-wielders for the morality police,
in how many layers of moral crepe?

For Mahsa Amini

 

The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are currently closed.

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