The Defendant Say what you will. Swear by the lifted book. Slowly lift up your gentle face and look. There shall be no safe questions. I sit to trace Your life beyond the confines of the case. When all is said and done, there must remain Among the detritus of slipshod rain, Between the callous solace and the real, In fine, the fine print of the broken deal. Beyond the foofaraw of life spent in The fearful meditation on loss and ruin, There is a country where the trees all knot Into the stunned kinesics of a thought, And lift up crooked waftures to the sky — There shall you be exiled. To dream and die. Concord The fish-halves glisten, one on the scale, the other a-slither beside the dripping instrument. Morning at the window. His Balaam’s-ass-eyes, hardly betraying the indifference greyer than their own, betray a decent cheer instead. He has wondered whether the crowded world, gushing with vision and rhetoric, muddied by the ambergris reek of skill and style, swept aloft magic rugs of approbation, were suddenly deprived of objects. Under the pillow (he prods the canker here) is the piece he scrawled the night before. Digging out the soap wrap (his favourite, the matchbox), he skims the lines in a blur of desultory awe. The mingled odour of soap and ink cannot — not anymore — tease his conscience, if only for the sheer want of it. So, he sifts the splotched edges of the words (obliteration seeping towards the centre, perpetually advancing), and has to yawn thrice in order to fathom unmeaning….Yet to ponder without promising oneself? To peer into the abyss and not act? To spare one’s lies those roborant shake-ups?…Day tiptoes around the crests of tidaling rage. The sun spears down on tin sheets down which hotfoot ibons skid. Nothing less than the world to save, or be saved by. Nothing less than Light to be extinguished with. Discord Light, shadowless light! The much-coveted morn; the much-cherished time when a promise slurred is promise kept. So, he thought, looking at the precious soap wrap curled like a roach on the dustpan, and smiled. Outside, the shadowless day, fat-clogged with our bathroom-bolted age sneezing into the toilet-bowl. Mirligoes of sustainable salvations! A hand, ever-extending, through whorls of steel. A banana peel enclosing dust. “…sheesh, but up yours too, Callimachus! if your schtick lies but in mousseing away under a leaf. Grind like a root through the mouldy concrete!” Morning, petulant with bells and screams and sales, paid his words back in mint-hot coins of flatulence. Such a silent century. Such loud days. The caged parakeet shaking off a summary bath; the urchin sucking his thumb; flies rippling on a gouged-out crescent of squash (one drumhumming around the vendor’s temples); the falling banknote, the heifer chomping, cylinders clanging—“all, all, folded, foetalized inside the soapsuds of vision. A thousand eyes, a thousand ayes, a thousand leaps. Without a face one loves and leaves. Without—” His awe gasped out two inches from his pen. La civilizzazione—will only need his shoelaces to end at. Ghat The water sleeps between my toes. In just Two minutes I’ll forget. Here there’s no thrust Of sea, no rolling billows to remind My feet that they stand in the lull and grind Of ocean. Looking up at the drawn sky I shall remember faces and descry Their pervert hopes for contentment and death, And maybe sigh or swear under my breath, Then nod to you who stands and bides her time On land and listens, listens to the rhyme And knows not what at last to make of all That which is neither here nor there. Until I call Your name and say, with neither joy nor grief: It’s three steps to the water, one to life. Fapped off last night. It came to nothing much Fapped off last night. It came to nothing much, Save sleep in which the alpha hissed in such A way I coughed awake, shot at the clock A phantom half-nod to wash up and talk. This bitter Satur sucks — will take no time To worsen with a sinful turn to rhyme, And worsen still by noon, thanks to dear here Where tufturds hope for life and live to fear. There’s chores to finish, fears to choose, And mates to come across and mates to lose, And none to wonder why I didn’t call No matter we be twee-tongue strangers all. And yet, for all this fapsy-tipsy chant This much is settled. Ruled. Decreed — avaunt! Stunt The whole of it through that. It is so bright For all the world outside where there's not light Enough to show the squint-eyed goer across The night, the end of going and the cause. What is the end, if not the flicked release Of my hands from these cuffs, the rhapsodies Of all who’ve walked into the hall to see The curled-up culus peaking up at three? What face should be that face that looks upon The lookers-on, if not a face ill-known And other-cheeked into a cast of bone And looking askance while it's looking on? What feet should be those feet, what hands those hands — What body, if not the one that comprehends?
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Susmit Panda, born in 1996, is a poet living in Kolkata. His poems and criticism have appeared in Boog City, Coldnoon, Indian Cultural Forum, Guftugu, The Boston Compass, and The Journal (London), and are forthcoming in Fulcrum: An Anthology of Poetry and Aesthetics. He participated in the Poesia 2021 World Poetry Day Festival.
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