by Sabyasachi Nag
Holding a clammy hand of my six-year-old
as he complains about the poke in his eye at school
I am hoping for a miracle cheque from an estranged sister
in another continent.
At the community mail box I find instead a letter of recall
from the meat plant just two towns away in Troy.
I look up to the late September sky.
The beauty of his deep brown eyes shine abruptly.
In the shrill screech of the bright green truck,
the precise movements of the loader throwing trash
into its open mouth and the shadows of emptied recycling bins
lengthening in the slant of twilight, it’s still Thursday.
In Karachi, a thirty two year old mother of a teenage girl
carved her husband into fifty one pieces
and cooked a vindaloo; the stench was far reaching.
A thirty three year old man in New Delhi, slapped a lawmaker to protest
rising prices. Put away in a madhouse, a magistrate will decide,
in the coming days, if he is really as insane as his parents claim.
Down in Windsor, Ontario, the first homicide was reported
in two years – a thirty year old stabbed an old acquaintance
with a weapon that’s missing; there are no drugs involved.
Meanwhile in Detroit, it’s one murder a day
and farther away east in Cairo, the twenty five year old pregnant wife
of a news anchor has been kidnapped –
You dirty dog…don’t insult your masters again
are the only clues to the theft – the sky has boiled
over in a million bubbles, the songbirds haven’t said a thing.
Down by the ravines, the coyotes howled all night complaining
late winter, lost sleep. It’s November, the Hornets won,
and the languid waters of the Credit River crusted on the corners.
Skunks dug up a furrow near the out wall under the dwarf blue spruce.
The pipe to the lung narrowed, breath deepened. A neighbour’s daughter
lost her earring under the deck trying to snare a toad.
The remains of a dead maple was cut in pieces and stowed on the sides
with forest rubble, dead rock tripe, winter green. A wan moon shone
on their exposed rib cage revealing a riddle and somewhere else, a star exploded.
Mad Man’s Love Song
Kashmir, you are the mirror that makes me cry.
I nail you to my eyes. Through your nettled veil, like a mad man, I kiss and caress.
You look back straight. That’s not me, I say. Your eyes have dried.
Ridges and wrinkles, bruises and burns, yes, I get the dialectics of time.
But you point me back to the black hole right between my eyes.
After five thousand years of dreaming, am I becoming blind?
Your wicked cinch hurts the wrist – you have no trust – you think I will fly
off to other orbits. You lead me through saffron, through the scythes and the watercress.
You lead me out of gravity and wish: I will spiral inward, implode with light.
Kashmir, is it my method or my mind that you so dislike?
Is there another way of loving you? You have my blood, my innocence.
Don’t your needs ever end? Are you the fig tree that can’t be sliced?
If I lift your veil and press my lips on the blue flame that lights
your eyes, could you not keep them shut tonight? Not see, just sense?
Kashmir why do you look at me and make me cry.
If your arms were wrapped just around my ribs, I would find
a way to out-wriggle you. But you pump my arteries, seed my groins, light my chest,
fire up my fucking head, what would I be without you? So cry,
cry with me Kashmir, your eyes have dried.
at a sales conference out of town –
immaculately clear, dark brown and simmering
under a coiled hood –
steam in the shape of a white dome rising
to a brand new Heaven made in America –
now ribbed and ‘new’ inside blood red matte.
Inside a crematorium
overwhelming the sandalwood incense and tuberoses –
frothy, thick, and bitter after the jab on the red button
started the burners –
after-taste out-lasting the final witness
in the cold January draught.
Inside a train on a bright spring morning –
coarse ground, with white Sambuca splashed on top.
At the station stop when the Italian lady walked in –
her nose up in the air, her cracked skin clear as paper
she knew at once she wasn’t the only one wondering: why all this grass
when there can be turnips and tomatoes on the lawn.
Elsewhere, at a wedding in Richmond Hill –
sweet, syrupy and unreal.
A crack in the fancy mud cup marking time
to everyone’s embarrassment on the banquet alabaster –
but for the bride and groom gyrating
in a trance, to lewd Bollywood numbers.
Hard Boiled Sugar Candies at the Job Fair
Red stripes on hard boiled candies converge
in a feverish dance inside the polished glass jar at the job fair hotel.
The telephone rings into the heart of the soft snow piling on railing caps.
Job applicants have left their trail deep into the tan carpet.
It’s time to go home. Forget
Sheri B from Tiny, Ontario
whose mother died last month from tumors in the spinal cord.
And father, the year before, from hallucinations
after a bullet wound in Afghanistan.
What was she doing all these years squeezing the soul out
a used toothpaste tube? She knew something more –
she couldn’t fake dead just because the bones were so close to skin.
And then she heard the rattle, smelt its wasted breath when the draught
from the disjointed window oozed it out of her chattering teeth.
Truth – a bowl of sugar candies wrapped in plastic – who wants that?
The directory of names is just one name spelt variously.
Sheri B – with eyes the blue of molten iron – is she just another hallucinated meme
that would go away?
Did you believe in heaven elsewhere?
You have large hands, Sherri B.
Too large for the everyday tasks on the narrow assembly line.