I have tried
to know you
Like a fish in a rich man’s aquarium
Tries to know
When three-hundred and seventy five chairs
Are stacked against each other,
In great order
I have allowed myself to find the one
Where the soul of Buddha sits unaffected by suffering
For centuries until,
He discovers that he is now Rosa Parks, and that suffering
So large, it groans, and Rosa Parks
Continues to sit so utterly affected that the wheels of
The city bus turn away.
In every city bus, I have allowed
Myself to look for her sitting
Intact and undisturbed.
Kaval Bairasandra, my stop has come
It is the last stop and there,
Isn’t a hurry and yet I somehow forget to turn back and see
If Rosa Parks still sits there.
Very close to pleasure there is a sick cat.
In the confines of your apartment, white tiles
Fading yellow, two and a half balconies.
Note of your whereabouts is taken carefully.
Break, break, break the turpentine ashtray
Where the dust is a spectacle, turned grey
What are you waiting for in the cold of the night?
My grandfather once told me that it was awfully cold
Where he studied his masters that he had to have a job
To pay for.
To keep him warm, he picked a cigarette.
A butt-ended Prometheus that stole him fire for winter.
By the time he got rid of it, it was a little late.
To his momentary happiness, was the cat.
It shrieks out loud.
Walk down the pavement, dribble through the garbage
The city has its song, if you pay attention.
But do you?
The city is loud and the alley roads are full of stray cats
On their way to the parade of midnight. It is no time to be sick.
To live, one needs more than these roads have to offer.
More than Camus and music and doses of positive psychology,
More than my grandfather’s cigarette wisdom.
To live, one
Needs to pay attention, to the shrieking aging willowing old cat:
Always here. Right here. Very close to you. Very close to pleasure.
The azaan summons me, but it’s seven twenty-two
The city-bus is running late and the sunset overdue,
Angels of my city turn on the streetlights one by one,
The day at the dead-end liquor shop has hardly begun,
The angels of my city in their uniforms brazen green
Walk back home with hands in pockets, despair in between.
Another long and brave new day has reached its evening
Tell me if you’ve found a better word for my longing.
Another shot, warps and all, and another can of beer,
Another shot, comrades, and I will be out of here,
Drunkenness is vulgar and angelic through and through
The azaan summons me, but it’s seven twenty-two.
You still haven’t found the word? It’s called foolishness.
And if it all comes down to dust, I’d do it nonetheless.
Tomorrow has announced itself, tonight bids adieu
If the azaan summons me, it must be looking for you.
Suryashekhar is an undergrad student of media and literature. His research areas include
political economy, literature and critical theory. Among other things, he wishes for his poetry to be an instrument of change in the people’s struggles.