There’s a whisper down the line;
every alley runs its nimble fretwork of dispatches.
At smoky roadside shrines, votive covenants
are counted, alliances forged, conspiracies bound
and sealed. Black-burnt smells transposed
into hooded figures out of an old tale.
The first portents have been reported, slippery
as rumours of heresy on the Malabar Coast.
Gaudy heroics in random directions,
the bloody tang of copper, salt, and rust.
The deep graphite sheen of suspicion
that spreads like brushfire,
leaping hill to hill.