5/25/24

New | Review | Liminal Images: Photomontages by Sarvesh Wahie and Andrea Geyer

                                                                             

Winterbad



 A photograph is a mystery. It obscures what comes before and after, focusing instead on an elusive present, which according to Jean-Paul Sartre in Being and Nothingness is in ‘perpetual flight in the face of being’. As soon as the picture is taken, it becomes past; a memory; a symbol of something.

5/13/24

New | Poetry | Luoyang Chen

Artwork by Jo Nin*



The Sea is the Possibility

 

Sitting on an empty park bench, 

Flow is sunning himself.

No. That’s a lie. The wind blowing leaves 

Sounds like waves hitting rocks.

The sky is gloomy.

Flow is not in the park. He is at the beach 

Searching—



A hidden poem. A hidden eddy in the sea. A sea that is the possibility. A possibility of falling and being pushed back on the shore. Lurching. Full of sands. Not pretty. Though they will eventually fall away from him. The sea rejects him the way his mind rejects his body. The love that bonds them, like the sands on his body, is greedy but never ever sticky enough.


Wittgenstein and Flow

 

Wittgenstein came to see Flow last night. He spoke in German. But does it matter? Flow likes to take things to an extreme. He has been eating Marinara Spaghetti for a month, for example. He is thinking Thai tonight.

Flow should have called him Ludwig, not Wittgenstein. But Wittgenstein is a masterpiece. Define ‘master’. Define ‘piece’.

Enough languages. Enough games now. Do not play. 

Come,

flow with—

 

(*Artwork via wikimedia commons)

(The poems are from the collection Flow, published by Red River) 

New | Poetry | Kevin R. Pennington

Artwork by David Damour*

 

Antikythera Mechanism

 

Perhaps I am a

Antikythera Mechanism,

rusted, broken, forgotten,

like the tubes of the

mighty Colossus Mark 2,

disassembled and

decommissioned like

Alan Turing himself.

 

I am a 

punch card

from the

room-sized

mainframe days:

a forgotten

relic 

technology

from a 

different 

time.

 

Trauma curves 

my mind into a

Calabri-Yau manifold,

a quantum shape

that twists and turns

upon itself in ways

I barely comprehend.

It is a knot that

complicates my mind.

I must untangle

it somehow, but

I have no map of

what it should

look like, nor

any personal

geometry 

to rely upon.

 

I am a ghost particle

that decays quickly.

Gravity binds me

to the black holes

singularity.

Jets of energy,

the universes most

exact clock,

spins like a top.

 

Millions of 

tachyons

go backwards 

in time,

carrying me 

with them. 

 

In the formal

dining room,

the grandfather

clock fails to strike 

seven oclock,

and even the

coo-coo bird 

goes back inside

to hide.

 

I must face

my manifolds,

my knots,

my mind

 

            slowly,

            delicately,

             deliberately.

 

Can I unravel the knots

before I unravel myself?

 

 


 

Metamorphosis

(for Kristin Pennington)

 

Duhkha

 

Pain festers:

A terrible infection

throughout my body,

pulsing in agony,

pus-filled abscesses,

acne on my balls.

 

I transform

into something

from Kafka

or Burroughs.

 

I become a bug,

a cockroach, 

a talking asshole,

that lives in the

darkness of

my own mind.

All the while 

waiting for 

someone to

tell me I am

worthy of

my own 

humanity.

 

I want to ease

my suffering,

but it lingers still.

My coping

mechanisms are

ineffective.

I need a surgeon

to cut deep inside

and remove the

dead flesh that will

never heal.

 

Dammit,

everyone changes

as the years go by,

even you and I,

but the violence

in our minds

does not subside

until we find 

solace.

 

Yet even when

I do calm down, I

fear Im in the

eye of the storm,

and that there is

another destructive

hurricane on the

horizon.

 


 (*Artwork via wikimedia commons.) 

4/25/24

New | Novel | Serialised Fiction | Junk Days | Abhimanyu Kumar | Part III

Artwork via Wikimedia 

 


 

This is a lament for you, Robindranath Mazumdar. You, of the gangster scowl, the grandfather glasses, the bitter pride.

What happened to us?

I sit thinking of you as the cold wind blows on my top floor apartment, I am alone, I am going to be thirty soon, half my life gone, amounting to nothing. Where are you tonight? Last I heard you were home, your dad wasn’t well. I hope he gets better. You will take good care of him if you want to. You have a kind heart. You hear cries that other miss, see humiliation before others do.

I went to your place once. Diamond Harbour. Your dad read the papers lying on his bed most of the time. Hardly spoke. Your mother cooked for you your favourite things. You did not like fish. And you loved eggs. You had told me about your mother’s mental problems. Just like with Ginsberg’s mother.  Both your parents retired, dad as a state telecom official, mother a schoolteacher.  We smoked up on the terrace and went through your National Geographic collection. Listened to Anjan Dutta. We met your friend who seemed a bit slow in his head and divine at the same time. The holy fool. Like Ramkrishna Paramhansa. I was glad but not surprised to learn that you two were the only friends of each-other in school. We ate jhaal-moori that evening, standing on an anchored boat next to the dock, as the clouds gathered on the horizon, politely, quietly, like people for a social occasion.

Your brother in the US. Married, settled. Studied engineering at Jadavpur.

I also came to know that some time back your father called the police on you. I do not know what it was about. Apparently, you two had quarreled and you had left home or something.

You were once my hero. I envied how cool you were.  With that casual approach towards violence that I found attractive. That lack of guilt. The easy self-righteousness.

We started getting close only after Manik left for home after he got busted. I think you dropped out of German the same year. You were lying in your bed, stoned, when a classmate came to advise you to get serious and you asked him to shove it.

I moved to Tapti hostel. You moved in with me. As an illegal guest, technically.

Manik had done smack just a few times with Roy and his Patna gang – all of them from Patna. Childhood friends. Except Roy, the others worked in call centers.

They knew Arun da and Amitabh Vishal, since these two hailed from Patna too. That is how we got to meet each-other I think. Amitabh, the common link between all of us, was the man about town in JNU, apart from being a Party comrade, and senior to us. He took me to have beef for the first time – Manik had it earlier though he came along. Arun da was also elder to us. He was not around most of the time because he worked the night shift at a call-centre.

 First time I met Roy it was in a room in Munirka. Near Arun da’s place. Roy and others had some hash they had bought from Munirka. It was really bad, mixed with shoe-polish. But we smoked it all, cursing the motherfucker who sold it.

Roy seemed self-contained. Like he did not really need the others although he benefitted from their help, like everyone else. He had the manly confidence of those who effortlessly attract women which he often did, from lady doctors to a girl sharing the seat in the bus by chance or standing in front in a queue.  

We started meeting more often, at Arun da’s place, the three of us. Arun da’s place was our hangout. He would leave his key with us when he went to office at night and we would stay there, smoking up and listening to music. Robi and I would take turns writing on Arun da’s computer. Amitabh would drop by at times, always bringing the hottest women in the campus with him. Sometimes, some of Arun da’s call-centre colleagues would come with girls and we had to vacate or simply move to the roof.

Somewhere along the line this time around came Daniel Muhammad Khan, or DMK.

DMK was from Bengal, Khidirpur, dock-er chele, as he always proudly mentioned. A street-smart thug. A junkie proper. Thin, metal chains on his body and over his colourful clothes, a pierced eyebrow and chin. Goa and Manali kid. DJ.

He worked in a call-centre too, probably with either Ranjan or Aditya, who made up Roy’s Patna gang.

DMK used to say he was working because he needed to buy the gear to become a full-time DJ. But all that was just jazz. Some people are junkies. They are professionals. Junk is what they do best. That is the life they know most intimately. DMK was one of them. Not everyone can be a junkie. Only the chosen few. Rest of us try and fail, deterred by society, and our own illusions. DMK worked to keep his habit.

With him, we took the plunge into the netherworld of smack for the first time. The shadowy world of narrow alleys and quick decisions. Of quiet recognition and bonds without words. The hell of no trust.

We used to gather at Arun da’s place. DMK used to score. He rarely failed. And he was the master of ceremonies. He would make the pipe, flatten the foil, melt the stuff and get everyone to do it by holding the foil and lighting it underneath.

He could talk. If he were off junk, he would talk on and on. It could be about anything, about Nirvana, about Goa, about hash. You could ask him to shut up. Scream at him but he won’t stop talking. But once he got some junk, he would take his shirt off, scratch and shut up like death.

Soon, we realised that DMK seemed to be the highest of all of us all the time although we apparently did equal share of the stuff. But that was not really true. Since DMK got everyone to do it, he would not allow people to complete their lines. He would always stop a little before, claiming that the user was wasting the stuff by blowing it. He would then complete the line. Secondly, we suspected that he already did some before he shared the stuff he had scored for which we used to pay.

Later, we would all do the same thing in different circumstances. But back then, this made us want to score our own stuff.

4/15/24

NEW | Poetry | Andal Srivatsan

 


Artwork by Tachi Lloret*


Patang

 

The betel leaf vine ahead of the porch

hangs on the trellis like Ma’s dupatta.

My sister runs around with it, humming

a tune from an old flick. We go to the terrace,

he grins and points out that I walk like a girl.

I stand upright, mimic him as he kicks gravel

at the wall, doing what boys my age would do.

Today, we fly our patang. I hold it and walk backwards –

his face turns beautifully red with joy and when he yells

now, I let go and he makes a diamond frolic in the wind.

He looks like a painting; untethered, and unlike the

patang and I – moving the way we are told.




Paati’s home

 


Last night, my deceased grandmother called me on my phone

 

nee tirichy pakon eppo vara?

when are you coming towards Trichy?

 

therila. it depends on when I get offs.

 

naturally, I took the next train to her village,

crouched in first class,

crossed that familiar vista

 

nothing much had changed.

 

paint chipped off of the walls of her house,

broken down with disuse,

 

thatha’s wooden wicker chair still stood outside,

sooty.

 

the armrest would open up and pull up a footrest,

I called it magical as a child.

paati laughed; sound of rippling pearls,

fused with her wheezing.

 

inside the oonjal oscillated,

right ahead of the TV stand.

 

thatha and I used to fight over the remote,

almost always, tamil serials took over the evening.

 

outside, the tulasi madam was barren,

branches empty,

soil wearing a layer of white mould.

 

the house is the same

sans the clatter.

 

years ago,

she would paste spices on the ammikallu,

someone else slapped clothes on the pumice.

 

when she was tired, she’d pant,

put her hand on her hip, her podavai raised to her knees,

use the back of her hand to brush the strands of silver

hair on her face.

 

in her old bedroom, her many nine-yard

pattu sarees are neatly stacked in the cupboard,

 

I touch them, and they crumble into dust,

burst into the air, light up a little over my hair

 

her scent–

 

morning malipoovibuthi,

pervasive whiff of seekai podi,

ochre sandhanam 

 

follow me out

long after the doors to her home are locked.




* via wikimedia commons