Poems | Michael Creighton

Artwork : Divya Adusumilli

Left Out 

The fan may whine
but the curd and pickle
have no sympathy.
Anyway, there’s really
no helping it:
the rice pilau never
could take the April heat.

Outside on the doorstep,
the newspaper waits
for the day to unfold.


I didn’t get a look at her face
as she darted past me

in the back of that three-wheeler
on Ring Road—

just a glimpse of her long neck
as her thick black curls

flew up in the April wind
like a flight of startled swallows

or the feeling you get in your stomach
when something shifts

under distant mountains
and the tall buildings in your city

suddenly start to sway.

Water and Smoke

In the sudden rain, there’s no escape
from the dank press of men
beneath the paan walla’s tarp.

Some smoke, some scowl,
one laughs as he shoots
red streams of betel nut juice

into the flooded street.
Last night, I dreamed
I dropped off the edge

of the earth, into rough sea—
and now I see my reflection
in the window of a car

running slow through rushing water:
new lines, gray clumps spreading.
Across the street, the asphalt mixer

belches steam and soot
and the wind picks up,
throws rain across our shoes.

From a passing radio,
comes the high pitched wail
of an old Bollywood show tune:

Tonight, a burning lamp 
will turn to water and smoke—
ten rupees buys a single, then:

scratch, suck, glow,
and the easy brush
of shoulders and smoke.

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