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"Wood-Story Before the Millennium and Now": New Poem in DM 34

Brand new poem on DANSE MACABRE XXXIV‘s all-poetry April issue “Belles-Lettres“.

This is from a series I am writing under my Sarai-CSDS fellowship “The Migrant City”. You can read it here or below:

Wood-Story Before the Millennium and Now

This is a table where we used to keep a glass vase in the nineties

the sun a syruping gooseberry often tumbling out of it reckless

a wooden table, smooth-plank body of a tree dressed for our

weekend dinners. Some clutter as it happens with faces clustered

coats of varnish and heavy-lashed lacquerware, dead-white ceramic

this will still be the same surface where we will spill the gravy

push the sparkling tea across, lick any fallen crumbs with thumbs


Keep the fast, it gives long life

to your husband, those elderly

women will implore and

let the table carry ornate

plates of offerings you won’t easily touch

only after the moon does first

its shadow on the water on your silver tray.

And then the table can sing like a cricket

all that crockery clattering

we will eat everything before

the moon-shadow devours the mind

ignoring what the women say.

In fact, you will know, I only cared

about just crickets because they

love the blackness of soul just as I do.


When I close my eyes I see my aunt lissome and dark with her braid

long like those thick twines for hauling country boats to shore

she smiles and shows a tooth we were told is of the elephant, rare.

I see her on her back on the bed tossing a red plastic ball over her chest

lob and drop and lob and show the gajadanta smile while my uncle

sits two feet away on a table, the one they never dined on, used as a shelf

for things, littered for the most time. He dangling his black-shoed feet as

if he is a kid watching the unbelievable enchantress woman’s trick

of lobbing a red-desire ball high up; the head of the old-fashioned bed

preventing him to leap forward, also because I zip into the room

looking for my cousin as uncle shifts, legs undangle, the table creaks.


The life story of woods

when they come from

forests of greenness

tells of more lines and stars

than found on our palms.


I don’t remember when Habib Tanveer or Gangubai the siren throat died

when was it bringing home wads of cash that quick dirty jobs paid was cool

money for home, food, electronics, but no song or lines; but I do remember

rehearsing one afternoon with Habib for a play we would perform in a street

where racketeers and launderers ran their shops; they watched, we stood

on the dust as if on breadcrumb crusts strewn on a table top, hewn uneven

because no one cleaned; a china cup stayed back, the old tea leaves telling

a tale of the millennium as they should, like all things emancipated and sweetly old.

This work is supported by Sarai-CSDS, New Delhi.

Image from Danse Macabre literary journal


2 comments on “"Wood-Story Before the Millennium and Now": New Poem in DM 34

  1. Kon Abaga
    April 10, 2010

    >i visited your site n was good enough then othere site that i visited last monthwork and study

  2. fleuve-souterrain
    April 11, 2010

    >is this comment about my site and the poem Kon?Well, do take some time to read in your next visit 🙂

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