Still Life

I slit the stem and slide my finger in the milkweed
the ooze smells of snake bites. The skin shrivels

with the buds dropping premature, petals seal
clutch a secret like a fetus she carries

and will not relinquish – there is death everywhere
if you care to see, detected in the marigold

filaments of black seeds tossed in the breeze.
She rocks on the stone warm against the thighs

dusk streaks her hair flares of roasted aubergine
the spine bent to lodge a dream turned into a rock

landscapes the contour that shifts, poisons the soil
so that she can soak up the earth in the act of freeing.

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Our girls are tossed into the pit

The sky burns at the edge of the cornfield the smoke
rolls from bread baked with specks of nails because

that is what is done to girls who are tossed into the pit
fingers sliced, teeth carved into beads sold in the bazaar

How does it taste he asks stuffing her mouth with the fist
glistening with juice from the pumpkin rotting in the pot

She draws lines on the dust under the bed to keep count
the breeze teases her destiny blurs the purple splotches

scalded by lips marked with lesions cavities of puss he
runs his tongue over when she attempts to escape. Let

the slender bone of the neck be ruptured. Let the face
be drowned in a pool of shame. Let the cry be muffled. Let

Does the road cleave or connect?

Is there a river beneath the earth that moves from the mountains
tangled limbs of trees, arms knotted in the trauma of death dark tar-like?

That is what happens to the soul crunched by clumps of rocks that
turn the valley into a gash of mouths sucking air in blocked throats.

The Sun a discharged bomb spills a copper column into the sky
a concrete slab presses on the chest of earth scarred by explosion.

The river twists around jagged debris, the mountain prone
thighs slashed lengthwise and all the way into the womb.

You must ask what is the need to reach the shrine in six hours
take in your mouth the brine tossed from the sea million years ago

when the universe narrated a different story, fossilized dreams in folds
of the brain gutted now by the road that cleaves you at the core.


The poem is written in response to this.

 

The Time Capsule

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There is the path covered by rubble
excavated from a hole a perfect circle in the
middle of grassland the smell of fresh earth
shored up as a wall along the scarred sidewalk

The arrow points backward from the burning chute
to the blind end of the street lay the enclosed garden
you vaulted the wall to see her tend Pongam tree
hold in the cup of her feet seeds brushed red-purple

You have reached this far not knowing if the river
you enter this minute there was a trickle from
a slab of ice in the mountains two days ago or
a channel of discontinuous disembodied element

The time a butterfly folds wings divide four times
it’s the journey a snail dreams in the ocean bed
of nautilus slants vision from deep water flooding
through porous eyes to enfold the history of the earth.

Birds fall from the sky

The chances are the dust from the hermitage
outside the city

be carried in the bowl of time. When close
to history the hair on the skin

moves to the light from the tunnel of past.
A monk goes to the forest

learns ways to live a hundred years. Covered
in meters of matted hair

he arrives at the large mansion, speaks of
the prince who renounced

kingdom, wife, child. Nails and bones
from his emaciated body

are stripped to cells of hunger and thirst.
Interned urns excavated

from burial site carry the scent of ripe pear
dimples of yellow-green

like sodden leaves during monsoon. I choose
a chamber to sit in silence

the open window and trunks of lined trees
the iridescent sky.

Is there a need to clean the floor, the sharp
whispers of the broom

in the quietness? The beaked Palash flowers
are ready to fall.

Birds with extended necks and throbbing throats
alert for flight.

The Full Moon: A Love Poem

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You favor one side when you sleep
lean into the silence of the whitewashed wall
crumples of paint dust a veil of blanket.

I carry quietness in the hollow of my chest
slip into the folds of night, the sleeve of silver
under the bridge of your even breathing

worrying about the trespass of your space
but the light of the full moon emboldens me
to take the moistness of your palms in mine.

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The Body Spans Three Landscapes

I realize I can walk miles backward
not once glancing over the shoulder.

Let fatigue rest in the intersections of limbs
there will always be someone to spread

ash for the plants, turn soil with bone meal.
I run out of fingers to count the ones that fell

remembrance jagged with spikes of pain –
each three parts water one part air.

Thoughts are the matter I cannot grasp
hence I drown in the depths of the ocean

where the slop is churned every hundred years
to a speck on a leaf that floats to the bay

into the jade-colored estuary at the lip of the land.
Sand sifts through webs of interlaced fingers

flounces as dreams a clear shade of blue
the mornings always misty on the glass.

I can feel the temperature of all things
the love crusted like glazed pot, lightning

that singes the grass clumps in the yard
knots in the breasts with hardened milk.

What I covet grows wings, breaks free
flies to the dark cavern to hang feet up

for nine months and grow flesh, muscles
in the womb deposited with memories

from three landscapes – the river town
the city by the sea, the crowded metropolis.