New | Poetry | Kapil Kachru


Columbus Avenue Cats




denial of our terminal rage, up/down

fury of opposable thumbs hates to love,

loves to hate


shallow deluge of silent majority laced

with spontaneous noisy camaraderie of

untuned instruments, groaning, ecstatic,

in self-imposed, sentimental, sub-terrain



all cages are connected, sticker on mail-

box says







dreams of starlings

in desert lands

drunk on fermented

dates honey hashish

n’ camel milk

hopping & flapping

dull with delight

along crazy edges

of baseball diamond

loosely sketched

on sloping sands

drenched in moon







in that deep

throated gutter



speech & song

terror of silence

sheds its


trembling skin

& dares to dance

naked as flame


on a









Breakfast of Hunters


Happiness, in those days

was hunting for sand crabs

& rock crabs off Carter Road


with an uncle

who almost became

a priest in Portugal


on the beach

& in craters of rock 

that fell from the moon

in a child’s dream


we never caught

a crustacean of any kind

by luck or cunning

didn’t stop us, though


going out on weekends

before the sun’s blistering

fingers were firmly on

the day’s brittle neck


a time when

decent people attend

to domestic rituals


not us, in-laws turned

outlaws, on the fringes

of respectable behavior


armed with nothing

but the raw ambition

of cutting teeth

& unfilled stomachs


secure in the knowledge

they’d be stopping by

D’Souza’s Cold Storage

on the way back


to pick up fresh supplies

of sausages, ham

& pepper salami for

the breakfast of hunters                              



American Shaman


Still as a statue on a slender post,

he gawks, in the fading glow of

fleeing dusk.


Head swiveled, peering over

shoulder, scanning a patch of

garden with stunning attention.


Moments after diverting eyes,

whirring in the air, thud on the

ground. You whip around to


catch the hawk dancing like an

American shaman, all feathers

and feet, shuffling to a primal


beat, whose unwrinkled

wisdom flows unimpeded

in his native heart.





First they cut off your arms

then they bit off your head, O India


how eloquently you’ve staggered

through the depraved deceit of decades

staggered & fallen without disgrace


in obscenely bright bazaars

where blind bystanders picked

each other’s pockets & looked the other way


nobody helped you up, O India

how could they, nobody had hands


there was nothing to lend

what wasn’t stolen was sold

you weren’t born yesterday, O India


you’ve extracted venom from

kings & cobras since the pagan

dawn of prehistory


tasted each poison

natural selection’s dreamed up


swallowed any virulence synthesized

by the insatiable imagination of men


you’ve burnt every desire, O India

& nurtured every antidote in your bones

for a price, of course, call it faith


I don’t blame you

for not writing it down right away


you were always a talker, O India

I wasn’t ready to listen


now continents have risen between us

separated by oceans of forgetting


so many sublime profanities

still left unsung


now unutterable, O India


Russian Roulette

(for Vladimir Mayakovsky)


(raises his hand,

takes center stage)


with the singular

desolation of crisp linen


he sneers


through the unevenly bleached

pages of a 1964 edition


now splutters


a disjointed curse

on the third party forehead

of bureaucratic decency


now wipes


angled lips over the dandy scruff

of his perpetual winter coat


Do not doubt your loyalty

comrade poet, do not doubt


the essential veins

of your tailored homeless soul

were stitched with the joyous iron thread

of Revolutionary Realism


your atheist tax evading liturgy

forced down the collective throat

of pleased proletariat like potatoes


Do not doubt


(he pauses)


at the indecisive gunpoint of


insufficient pen scratching paper

bleeding ink


(he pauses)


inevitably, the dream was wrought

with pig iron in endless fields of wheat

swaying obedient, glad


is God a pervert

clapping in hollow heaven

at our restless naked folly?


O tortured orphan

of destiny unspoken,


(he moves to the side,



as of writing

life sustains

unedited, poetic

germinating in


failing hours of

super-natural half light

disappearing down corridors

of State Office doors


rusty hinges

deliberately ajar

to betray glorious



of imminent




No comments:

Post a Comment