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New Poems
April 2011

A Spray of Jasmine 

Political developments in South East Asia, 2010

The day of her release, Suu Kyi wound flowers
Into the hair behind her head: a spray
Of jasmine. She looked lovely doing so,
Something a man my age can safely say,
For she is no child. Who knows if her powers
Extend to the real world? We have to go
On what we see, the people's thirst for her.
Today no junta general would look good
With floral attributes, or hear his name
Made music by the crowds, and if it were,
The reason would be drearily the same
As always, and too readily understood: 
The crowds would be afraid. Her graceful calm
Means gentleness, as long as we recall
That Comrade Duch, who also has his poise
And clean-cut looks, for all he lacks her charm,
To most of us meant nothing much at all
When separating children from their toys
In his quiet way. Brought to the killing tree
And smashed to death, they saw a face to trust.
As cool as ever, all humility,
He now denies his guilt. Because we must —
Led by the hand of history as we are
Into the prison where the innocent
Die of their agony so very far
From all our thoughts, no matter how well meant —
We give our hearts to her for being there.
Such beauty has to be benevolent:
Look at her face, the flowers in her hair.

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