The Great Dying: A Gas Holocaust

Plates shifted
caused ingress of the sea
mountains folded
like a petticoat baring the thighs of the earth.

Monochrome of green cover
gloss and matt: imagine a world
without colors from flowers
no moths to rub
their rumps on the pollen dust.

The rain drowned
the fern forest into layers of peat
clouds of fumes incandescent
singed the cattails snuffed all lifeforms.

Earth was still young for tenderness
not prepared for the beauty
that human mind conceives
in insects that thrum down
throats of sticky sex.

Instead there was this –  a gas holocaust.


The story of the Earth

Learn to grovel, spread thinly
on the ground as
the mud banks crack
hiss out the moisture

of deep earth
coat the shells and scales
as swathes of life
net the land and

carpet polish seashores
with a rubbery ooze.
Snot of creation-material
marks the intelligence

in spores
to carry genetic memory
in the flagellate of desire
attached to each being:

the lover gives to birth
her own self in the twinning
of life to cover
the naked skin in a green robe.

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.

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


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.