1/18/22

New | Poetry | Transactions | Pain | Strength | Battle | Staring Back | Little Deaths | Admiration | Something's Broken | Abhishek Anicca

Cafe Terrace at Night, Van Gogh


Transactions

 

Late at night

I heard laughter down the street

and wondered whose silence

had it been exchanged for?

 

 

Pain

 

and then there was us

me and my body, alone

in a room full of dancing people

 

 

Strength

 

Two middle aged men

walked to my bed

in a hospital

 

undressed me

laughed for a while

before changing my diaper

 

I let them have their joke

 



Battle

 

Today,

I didn't change the world

I came back with shame

I wanted to curl up in my bed

I felt unwanted, unloved, un-liked

 

Today,

I mumbled a quiet prayer

I summoned no god nor human

I petitioned the depths of my dignity

I screamed silently; I exist, I exist, I exist.

 

 

Staring Back

 

One day

I will smirk back at my gazer

I will tell them about my talent

I will count down my achievements

I will kill them with confidence

I will show them my strength

 

One day,

I will not be broken by a stranger.

 



Little deaths

 

We misunderstood smog

for love:

 

Not everything that forces us

to hold our breath

 


is worth dying for.

 

 

Admiration

 

I am lost midway

through your poem

     disinterested in moving

 

                        Forgive me

                if I never tell you

               how beautiful it is

 


Something's broken

 

I stopped talking about the nation

when it seeped into my room

listening to my conversations

 

What else can do you around

old lovers who have changed?

 

BioAbhishek Anicca is a writer, poet and researcher. He identifies as a person with locomotor disability and chronic illness which shape his creative endeavours.

 

1/14/22

New | Poetry | As the City Sleeps | To the Doors of Nature | Devika Mathur

The Poor by the Sea, Picasso

As the city sleeps

I camouflage and dance like the birds

the birds from my last evening:

a banter through the walking steps

a fever and a hiccup to suggest,

dreams about metaphors taking shape

mauvy, reddish-brown floral abstract gowns

with a ‘kolhapuri’ jutti-

my dreams are aimless, just like my vast eyes of the storm

Hopping into the lands of Gods and gardens

a myriad of colorblind views,

my dreams expand like people

below

and above

underneath the ink and soil, if you know:

distant- through the rubber gloves

through the mirrors of the fallen forest,

my dreams are colorless and tireless,

just like a glare.

As the city sleeps,

stiff as a twig, I slip from sideways

into the morning leaf’s shadow.

               The season has turned its back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the doors of nature

A nimble sniff

Of nature and its friends

A chirp that stirs the heart

 

Cloudburst;

A song of rain

as it slips upon my bosom

 

I shout that I care

I care about my fields, the water ripples

comfort about the sky watching,

I shout,

about the mountains scrabbling

Exotic,

prosaic

Nature- an ocean of transparency.

 

Snowdrops,

 Sweet candle wax on toes

that utters the travesty of plant & wood,

 

A ladybug visits me often

I call it my only friend

The only 'temple bell' to defy the pain.

 

Nature- I am so tiny.

So tiny to speak

A moisture-laden substance,

unknown

formidable.

 

Sickening moth on the soil.

Oh! I wish to rest now

along with your shores

quietly.


Bio: Devika Mathur resides in India and is a published poet, writer, editor. Her works have been published in Madras Courier, Modern Literature, Two Drops Of Ink, Dying Dahlia Review, Pif Magazine, Spillwords, Duane's Poetree, Piker Press, Mojave heart review, Whisper and the Roar amongst others. She is the founder of the surreal poetry website "Olive skins" and writes for https://myvaliantsoulsblog.wordpress.com/   She recently published her book "Crimson Skins". Her works are upcoming in two more anthologies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

12/27/21

New | Poetry | David B. Prather

        artwork via Wikimedia commons

 

 

Fluctuating Water Levels Reveal the Startling Trauma of an Unexpected Deified Species

 

 

The crocodile should be deified,

but surely certain peoples along the Nile have beaten me to it.  Despite this,

I go on, I repeat the process because some of us need reminding,

some of us need to hear day stifled

into night, and some of us must watch death

repetitively as though we could cast a spell, bring on the mojo that averts disaster.

The gods of disaster.

          We need to be persuaded,

shaken into rhetoric.  The dirt needs

brushed and swept and carted away to break the passionate embrace of geology

and biology; hundreds of millions of years between the lovers

that are mineral and bone—desire so powerful they fuse.  But, it’s this,

a disquieting evidence at our feet that tells us these reptiles survived

the others, those toothed and mythical beings, dinosaurs, thunder lizards.

 

Then, unearthing a skull is like proving the face of Thor.  A femur

gives body to Vishnu, who has appeared nine times on earth.  Which is nothing

compared to the centuries that Crocodile and its family have remained,

putting the fear of demise into all of us, as though into a specially-reserved gland in the brain.

A gland that accretes and expands

        with only those memories of the gods

of conscious death, the gods of being-eaten-alive.

 

 

Worshippers would come as zebra to the temple, the rain-swollen house

of the river, and faith would come as instinct or migration as they entered one

by one, carefully, into the muddy, sacrificial water.  And, yes,

 

a few will not make it across, coming to rest, instead, in pieces

in the stomachs of these carnal entities.

     And it would be considered an honor

to be held by the long white machetes of teeth, to be surrounded

by every hungry mouth of the pantheon—then the water rushing into the head,

like small fountains into the lungs, and the wrench and twist until

bone and muscle are audible, almost spoken,

prayers of the deconstructing

 

 

flesh.   The mating of crocodiles is, as yet, unseen.

The male climbs onto the ridged back of the female, and then they both disappear,

able to remain submerged up to three hours, into the darker pools…and this

leads to conjecture.

         Joined, as they must be, perhaps

they lock together in a spinning motion that could represent eternity.  Hidden

gods of perpetual cycles.  Or, they lie

motionless while occasionally snapping their jaws,

some kind of reptilian sweet nothings spoken at crucial moments

because it simply must be difficult and dangerous to conceive, or even comprehend,

such a misshapen ethereal smile.

 

Maybe they merge as one large body for a time, starting with the scalloped

edges of their tails, moving on to the callused pods of the feet, and finally, tooth

by sacramental tooth, they are fixed to a genderless form

from which they must tear themselves apart.  Beyond this,

 

it is all a matter of temperature, the embryos suddenly male or female

by the edict of a few degrees.  But it doesn’t matter, either way

they begin in terror, collected in the mother’s mouth,

so close—to the tongue, the palate, the throat—that survival itself is a miracle.

And each is transported to the water,

 leaping through the stars

which are teeth, out of the universe which is a gullet.  The gods of the mouth

swallowed by heaven.  Yes,

 

there is more.  Sometimes

drought reduces the House of Crocodile, and everyone sees

the mistakes of fear, which are numerous and cause the dying to imagine

other ways and other places in which to be born.  Under the temple

there is only more earth.  And it is fear that makes a god.

         To drink of the water

you must be brave, watch every ripple as it folds itself into the riverbank.  It spreads

 

without understanding or belief.  This is the fallacy

because as the water recedes, everyone steps closer, braver thinking

only to partake and depart.

 

And then, the rains will touch us like cloth

dragged slowly over the skin to tell us we will not always leave

 

this place.

 

 

 

 

 

Guiding Principle of Faith

 

 

If ever a god of cleanliness existed

it must have been responsible for

 

the soap beetle, which flicks itself

up onto the floating leaves

 

from the murk of a pond to bathe

in pressured air.  It is

 

an oddity, this beetle, angling its legs

to a spot behind the eyes until

 

a stream of bubbles foams down

each side—odd because

 

an ancient observer might have called this

magic or elemental or some such

 

cursory observation, instead

of what this is—a triggering of glands

 

that releases hydrogen peroxide.  Still,

this is strange, something utterly

 

inhuman, something that seems more

mechanical than natural, something that could

 

only have been constructed by

supernatural means.  Perhaps

 

the water strider, buoyant as a god,

is another mechanized body, unlovely

 

 


 

                           

                                                      and frightening, not because of what

it can do, but what others cannot.

 

Perhaps the same god leaned

over a work bench into

 

the wee hours of creation experimenting

with shapes and sizes, each one

 

sinking until the comprehension

of weight distribution entered those

 

patient fingers.  Then, each leg

fitted like the points of a compass, the insect

 

lifted a bead of water, north

south, east, and west, to praise

 

its maker—which it could not identify.

So let me step in for a moment to say

 

just this.  Apparently, the created

is lesser than the creator.  And yet,

 

a fundamental law of physics states

that matter is neither created nor destroyed.

 

In which case, I hold us all responsible

for, possibly, a man, a tinker

 

of sorts who learned to be immaculate

working in a bio lab, or

 

that is, a crude semblance of a lab

where leftover genetic material was tossed


 

 

for scraps.  Nobody expected anything

to come of this mish mash of DNA, RNA,

 

protoplasm and nucleotides.

Not even this man who pinpointed

 

what he liked to call “the clean gene.”

Which he inserted into every creature

 

as though it was a toy, and this gene

some sort of bio-microchip

 

pre-set at birth to assure the obsessive

washing of cats, the habit of birds

 

to frighten ants for showers of formic

acid, and the picking and prodding of certain

 

shrimp that clean not themselves, but others.

The universe reduced to cleansing.  Like a frog

 

that contorts its limbs to spread a moisturizing

fluid from the back of its eyes and the base

 

of its spine over the entire surface

of skin, sealing in the liquids

 

of its life, discarding old cells—

which is as peculiar as any number

 

of snakes.  Say, for instance, the king

coral snake, a typical representative

 

that yawns to snap the dull skin

from the head, which appears to break, and the scales


 

slowly release, an inverted ghost

of the living thing abandoned, useless,

 

a hollow misrepresentation.  Though,

it is not as easy as it sounds.  Most of us

 

lose our exterior one minute

particle at a time, never aware

 

how quickly we come undone, yet

the snake unravels all at once,

 

scratching and scraping itself along

any edge, stone or wood

 

or metallic gleam, to tear its way

out of the past and into the future.

 

If I may be so grandiose.  Yes.

This is a positive thing, this

 

washing—the hair, the face, the hands,

the body.  It is transformation, without

 

seeming so dramatic.  And this is also

insidious, replacing each cell with another,

 

except the brain, which is its own

godless creature.  And, if ever a god

 

of cleanliness existed, he has been replaced,

reduced to something we continually leave

 

and take for granted as it grows beneath us—

or we are the skin and are already lost.

 




Correspondence to Alan Turing: Who’s the Fairest?

 

 

There is no test for humanity, by which

I mean compassion.

By which I mean the results are inconclusive.

 

Yeah, people

call me names and push me around, but you

 

suffered chemical

castration, love without libido, Eros without

erotica.  When

 

you walked down the street under those spires

and fa├žades,

 

could you feel accusations pile up around you

with old newsprint

and the leavings of all those unexamined lives?

 

You know,

I have apple trees in my back yard, most of

 

the fruit pecked

and purloined by jays and juncos.  Everyone

thought you died

 

like Snow White, of a witch’s poison, a half-

eaten apple

 

by your lifeless hand.  But you never got that

reviving kiss.  Maybe

you have the answer to my query now:  Why

 

do smart people

fall in love with someone they know they


 

cannot trust?

If only you could have conjured the mathematics

of weather

 

to create a storm so strong it could have swept

you and your lover

 

to safety.  Was he worth your punishment?

Mine is,

but I’ve never been put to that test.  What if

 

all intelligence

is artificial?  What if birds have a sense of self,

 

if plants can

comprehend the cosmos?  The difference

between us

 

and gorillas is the smallest percentage of DNA,

that twisted ladder,

 

spiral staircase.  There’s an old library downtown

with a three-floor

spiral, glass floors it takes a couple of minutes

 

to get used to,

to make yourself believe you won’t fall through.

 

It’s been closed

for twenty years, and I imagine the books

left behind are dry-

 

rotted, those glass landings cracked, the walls

discolored with mold.

 

Would you know if I were man or machine

if I could only

answer you from the confines of that abandoned

 

building?  You might

tell me the general design of living things

 

is symmetry.

And I would respond, except inside, where

everything is

 

shifted to accommodate the heart.

                                    All mine to you,

 

 

                                                   Einstein Epistolary: Last Words

 

 

Dear Albert,

 

Were the McGuire Sisters singing Sincerely

when you died, the radio turned low in the next room?

April seems a terrible month to leave this world,

but you did it anyway, just as trees began to gossip

with spring wind.  I know you weren’t home,

but I find it more romantic than the antiseptic halls

of medicine.

 

I’ve heard your brain was stolen,

as though comprehension could be extracted

from the flesh.  It’s a labyrinth, all those folds

and crescents of intellect.  Was it your minotaur?

Or was it your daughter, Lieserl, born out of wedlock?

No one seems to know what happened to her,

adoption, scarlet fever, conspiracy, shame?

 

Perhaps

your marriage failed, withered with a lack of wisdom,

because of impure thoughts, because of unsound

decisions, because of ivy grown over your own

stone walls.  I imagine you, limestone,

blocks cut so perfectly they settle into each other

without mortar or earth tamped into every stone

seam, where mosses root and spread,

a long-lasting thing, like Hadrian’s Wall, ancient,

a memory of something that no longer exists.

 

People still find ways to prove your theories,

all those scraps you left behind.

 

 

                                                           I still think

you lost some of your joy when your second son

said he hated you.  But schizophrenia is like that,

the mind succumbing to electroconvulsive therapy.

Did you ever wonder at the insight of electricity,

the random results of lightning?

 

I know

your last words were German, but your nurse

didn’t understand anything other than English.

I used to play that imagination game where you were

my dinner guest, candles on the table, and me

asking your thoughts on traveling faster than

the speed of light.  And I would always be disappointed

with the answer.  You kept telling me that human

beings are not creatures of light.  We are soil

and water, hearts and minds.  And I imagine I am

that nurse, singing along to that tune drifting

down the hall, when you speak those final words,

which only I understand, so profound,

this theoretical moment, this academic secret.

 

Gratefully,

                                           My Autistic Nephew Reminds Me of Myself

 

 

He says, Hello, Uncle David, or Goodbye,

Uncle David, as he leans his whole body

into the entirety of mine.  But he always asks

 

my name first, not important enough

to remember, but significant enough to get

 

right.  He is sure there is only one way

to do everything.  If I don’t follow the pattern,

the rules, he reminds me.  Sometimes,

 

he screams until I give in.  How he survives

this world, I cannot say.  Rivers change

 

course.  They flood.  Storms take us

by surprise, midday and midnight,

our world rearranged.  When I sing

 

the wrong word, the wrong note,

the wrong key, he tells me to stop.

 

Sometimes, he won’t let me sing at all.

It’s not my normal voice.  There are days

I don’t like him.  Let me say that

 

again.  There are days I don’t like him.

But I only see him a few times a year.

 

And when he hugs me, he means it.

As though we were an ocean, stilled,

without the tug of an everchanging moon.