Do You See?

>CITYSPEAK — a Poem (for once I thought I became a city!)

>This was my last contribution to poet and activist Dustin Brookshire‘s Project Verse. Something that I wrote in a tearing hurry between power outages and a summer of 100 F + heat outside in Delhi. While I sweltered and wrote, my mind went back to New York and Chicago, mostly experienced in cooler climes :), and what they appeared to my not-too-accustomed eyes in relation to my six years of residence in the US. Actually I cheated a bit. This poem is written from a sketchy draft I already had in my mind, had probably even written down somewhere… I just resurrected it. The exercise was about metaphors and similes.

Why is the speaker a city? Why is there reference to cities as siblings? You tell me. I’m an unabashed city-lover and dweller so my opinion may be biased! Here is the poem:


I didn’t have half brothers or sisters, now I do

Siblings in angst, about who grew up faster, smarter.

Macadamized heartbeats, belching, lying in the sun

bristling in the smog of hyperventilating rush hours

toenails curled inwards. That’s how we are.

Brother Chicago, from my labyrinth of freeways

I’ve seen your billboards flashing its psychedelic lure

your finger slow-motioning from the cloud tops

entwining me to your belly button deep and bright.

Your other brother or sister – that gushy half-sibling

New York is Woody Allen. Worried, glib! It arcs

a sharp tongue across Manhattan’s cacophony

rips off the rootedness of our shared metro mangrove.

Laying with its jaunty back of a brooding T-rex

Chicago squints at the waterside, not ready to budge

polishes its towering whiskers – unperturbed even in the snow.

New York slams me for calling out its name

for even thinking I could write these words –

its skyline a lost ship that hopes someone will come

anchor in its teenaged grudge. Well, let it gnaw!

Listen two cities. Don’t tell Kafka, I’ve turned into a city

unyielding, aching and stymied. Forever looking inside.

A silently gregarious square tucked into my seams.

Image from my computer: Downtown Chicago

5 comments on “>CITYSPEAK — a Poem (for once I thought I became a city!)

  1. Tim Buck
    October 4, 2009

    >Nabina! I like this. It is good. It is dandy and sort of fun (can serious poetry be fun?). I like all of it, but the NY stuff jumps out. This is marvelous! –New York slams me for calling out its namefor even thinking I could write these words –its skyline a lost ship that hopes someone will comeanchor in its teenaged grudge. Well, let it gnaw!And any poem that name drops Kafka is A-OK in my book! 🙂

  2. fleuve-souterrain
    October 4, 2009

    >hey thanks Tim!I had a feeling you'd like it although you seem like a far-from-the-maddening-cities type of person :)… but the best one to understand my city 'angst'! The ciritque tha tI got on this poem elsewhere is why Chicago and NYC? Why not SFO and NYC or Chicago and SFO or LA or NYC…. sort of thing. That's all redundant. What matters to me is this is how I related to 2 big metros I've experiences a little more than the other ones, and got them entrenched in my system a bit. Thank you!

  3. tikulicious
    October 10, 2009

    >Though I don't know much about the city of NY but I loved the poem. Guess I can share and move with your feelings and be one at times. cities fill you up with so many different emotions ..I am tempted to write one too .. excellent .

  4. denny hoffman
    October 28, 2009

    >Beutifully done Nabina. Thank you for bing my Friend and inviting me to read your wonderful poetry. Hopefully we share many more poetic moments to come – dammit.

  5. fleuve-souterrain
    February 24, 2010

    >@Tiku… thanks dear friend! Every city is so unique whatever continent they are in…@Denny — very very glad to have your here. Yes, more to poetry and friendship!

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This entry was posted on October 3, 2009 by in Chicago, Cityspeak, Dustin Brookshire, Nabina Das, New York, poetry, Project Verse.
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