Poetry | Sartaj Ghuman

pc: Brian Michael Barbeito

Four poems from the lit. fest/ faint echoes of the word escape

strangers in a strange city listening to strangers read their poetry
we vow to be amongst them next year to be up there next year to be
not so lonely next year. me in my pockmarked sweater and you in your overcoat
and high heels we exchange glances from across the crowd and then quickly retreat
pretending to write something or be completely absorbed in reading what we wrote
for we both know that fiddling with cellphones is just far too lame
and we won’t profess our loneliness, never, but instead claim
that we’re quite alright writing poetry about our lonely lives
for heartache is the substrate upon which art thrives
and so we quietly withdraw under art’s aegis
to cold beds and blank pages

i'm completely smitten by the bodies around
as they twist and turn into comfortable postures sitting cross-legged on the ground 
crouching on the parapet hugging vertical shins holding the camera up steady still
bending over the notebook the back a smooth arc the neck flat as over the pages hair spills
the head down horizontal the first two vertebrae like large beads above the t-shirt collar frayed
standing slouching against the wall with just a single shoulder blade touching it
your back a sensuous bow shooting arrows at me screaming to be sketched
hunched over in chairs the chin on the hand the elbow on the knees
leaning over sideways until the long earring hangs free
all straight lines and arcs and lovely shadows deep
if it wasn’t for the sketchbook i’d probably
be mistaken for a creep

the faces absorbed as they contemplate words that resonate
that float about and hang still around us fluttering about shimmering
amongst the back-lit leaves of the raintree or becoming a part of the masonry
forever embedded amongst the bricks and the whitewash in your memory
words barely audible words spoken softly words shouted out loud
words expertly flicked over the heads of the mesmerized crowd
words that caress your skin and get under your clothes
and claw at hearts and choke your throats
words that lacerate or lift weights off your chest
talking of things you love and  things you detest
eyes sparkling in awe at the dexterity
with which they breathe magic into words
and then set them free

i run around fixing things
making sure they run smoothly while my eyes stay fixed on you
i listen to the words that pour forth and think of what they might mean to you
i hang back trying to strike up a conversation but there’s nothing interesting that i do
while you are an accomplished poet with publications and residencies and books and ya, fans too
and you quickly get surrounded by them and i wonder if famous poets too get lonely sometimes
i wonder if you are ever spurned by a lover abandoned by words or deserted by rhyme
i imagine getting to know you and i imagine how if you asked me i would take
great pains to spell out my mail address very very carefully forming each alphabet
for people i’ve heard them say have been known to get

lost for nothing more than a spelling mistake

No comments:

Post a Comment