By Lopa Banerjee
They plunge in the adrenaline rush of yet another day.
Converge with the faceless crowd, the rough rhythm
And noise, crackling all around.
They walk, long, tired steps in the dusty bends
Of the winding city streets.
The cars, trolleys and the fresh paint
Of the sightseeing city buses brush past,
Nonchalant, no strings attached.
The parched, plastic look of the buildings
And skyscrapers, the placid nooks and corners
Of the giant fast food joints, a city throbbing
With rootless souls, fusing in transient comfort zones.
The madness and euphoria of trampling on
Their forlorn ancestral homes, meandering,
Scattered, cutting through their repainted contours.
The city entraps them, greedy, formulaic,
In long-term mortgage and bills.
The lumps in the throat, the cracks on the skin
Forgotten embers rekindle, tongue-tied,
Gather and circle around the murky night
in speckled, torn flesh.
They had nibbled on the juicy recesses
Of their roots, stripping bare
While the morning coffee and croissants
Numbed their mouths, pale, bitter, tasteless.
With mismatched steps, they now meet,
Talk a load of crap and forsake each other
In the dead end of the city, panicked, restless.
The red, green, yellow street signs flash at me.
With trembling hands, I honk, whisk.
The faint neon lights of the city flicker and blaze.
I am steering my way to the rhythm and pace of vehicles
Moving sideways, up, down and center.
I am using the break incessantly,
Cursing every twisted move I make,
Every street sign I am unable to follow,
Every wrong turn I end up with.
I am riding, in bumps and bolts,
While the neon lights, the streets fly past me
In synchronized movements, cooked with frenzy and oblivion.
In the blinding maze of uncertain miles
Wild bugs screech inside my stomach
Make cracking movements, as my legs race up the accelerator.
I am shoving the car, its wheels and our bodies
Into the city’s farthest boundaries, mapping each road,
Each turn, each exit, rolling and stuffing them in my pockets,
The wheels crushing footprints.
I am chewing on my bite-sized pieces of proximity,
Hatching the intrigue of flying distant realms
While the city calls me out in broken syllables.
I have a splintered grin, wave at the hoisted hands,
The outstretched fingers, the harmonic choir.
The streets are winding and long,
Embracing highways and horizons under abstract skies.
I weigh my latitudes, my longitudes of leaving.
The default settings of my memories,
They concede with the journey.
I collect them, stuff them in cardboard boxes,
Reincarnate to push the boundaries.
I am shoving the car, in the dead end of the city.
Shattered, in splinters and shards.
Down the quiet, grey streets, I drive like an old ghost,
As flashlights blink like omens.
Lopa Banerjee is an author, poet and freelance writer based in Nebraska, US. She has a Masters’ in English with a thesis in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her unpublished memoir ‘Thwarted Escape’ has been First Place Category Winner at the Journey Awards 2014 hosted by Chanticleer Reviews. Her poetry, stories and essays have appeared at ‘Words, Pauses, Noises’, the creative writers’ blog of Kingston University, UK, ‘Café Dissensus’, ‘eFiction India’, ‘Earthen Lamp Journal’, ‘Camel Saloon’ (special anthology published on International Women’s Day), ‘About Place Journal’, ‘Spark Magazine’, ‘Northeast Review’, ‘Indian Review’, ‘River Poets’ Journal’. She has also been a recipient of the critic award and ‘Poem of the Month’ award at Destiny Poets International Community of Poets, UK. She tweets at: @rooafza.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City, USA. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
Read the latest issues of Cafe Dissensus Magazine on ‘Disability: Art and Culture’, edited by Shilpaa Anand, MANUU, Hyderabad & Nandini Ghosh, IDS Kolkata.