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The excecutions in Mashhad
In Memory of Ayad and Mohammad, hanged in July 2005

Karl Hoff
June 24, 2006

What drew them toward each other, and how can we

Here silently live with their young lives being over

There? Hanged, outside in the Square, for all to fear.

Their blindfolds a despotic foreboding of irrevocable

Dark, in the morning sun over Mashhad on July 19

1435 years after Muhammad – in Iran


Eighteen and nineteen they were, Mohammad and Ayad

Fourteen months earlier, the judges castigate, they

Raped a boy of thirteen. Tortured they “confessed”

What they never have done, claim laywers and friends

A death sentence for homosexual acts they’d never even

Heard of, the two of them, till then – in Iran


Liquor they were said to have tasted that day, that night?

In a shed in Mashhad? Or was this also done outside?

Under a cypress, on an abandoned prayer rug they’d hit upon?

By the city wall? Under the stars above their Khorãsãn?

Or behind a wrecked tank in a declivity where ownerless

Dogs roam about, all mute – in Iran?


Their families, an Arabian minority, says an Iranian

Gay Activist, fled from the province of Khuzestãn

Bordering to Iraq. Eight years of war they faced

Everything they left, they retreated north to Mashhad

Where Imam Reza’s shrine stands. Here they ceased to be

Our two – of Hãfiz’ and Fãrid al-Din ‘Attãr’s – Iran


The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, like those of the 159 other

Death sentences in 2004. “They deserve it”, upholds a civil servant there

As protests pour in from Nobel laureates, lesbians and homosexuals

Individuals and organizations all over the world, from China and Congo 

Pakistan and even the USA, where youth to this day are executed

As in the obedient civil servants’ – Iran


Was a priest deputed to count the countless lashes sentenced upon

Our two, prior to their hangings in The Square of Justice? Two hundred

And twenty eight lashes for each, yet no sign of blood on their shirts

At the scaffold. What thoughts came, to them, as the noose touched their

Skin? Grandfather’s dear, his cherished lines, perhaps, the ones

He so often sang, the ones of the Master Poet Khayyãm’s «Rubãiyãt»?   


“Yesterday This Day’s Madness did prepare;

Tomorrow’s Silence, Triumph, or Despair:

Drink! For you know not whence you came, nor why:

Drink! For you know not why you go, nor where.”  * 


The parents families friends we – will never know.


(*) Verse 74 of "Rubãiyãt" by Omar Khayyãm [1048-1122], translated by Edward FitzGerald [1809-1883]; The 5th edition, 1889.



For letters section
To Karl Hoff


Book of the day

The Pursuit of Pleasure
Drugs and Stimulants in Iranian History, 1500-1900
by Rudi Matthee

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