By Sabyasachi Nag
What Should I Write?
Don’t ask me to write about snow;
hoar frost; spider plants
left out in the cold; sidewalks elsewhere,
where the moon stands still
and men in singlets stretch their sleep,
tugging the corners of a broken blanket.
The moon stands and watches –
don’t ask me to write about the moon;
witnesses, voyeurs, I hate them,
also, the gutters elsewhere
where the moon has drowned
and the dark face of water –
a million years old,
and slow to the point of death,
not yet dead, but stooped and folded
under the weight of a million more years –
it has been asked to stow
the dirt from the womb of the city
to the mouth of the river – the hurt river
slowly sinking into earth;
the slow earth slowly sinking into sky.
Don’t ask me to write about the sky.
There is nothing in the winds that
shall stand this test of time;
no god awake at this hour to help
birth the dark passion
I need to stand this war tonight;
this war with never ending, slithery shadows.
Don’t ask me to write about the end.
Don’t ask me to write about the day after.
Don’t ask me to write about blinding light,
or the blindness settling everywhere.
The Big Fight in the City Hall
In the City Hall, after the dog show
two old men started a fight;
strangers squeezed into tight aisles
egged them on.
They seemed like old friends,
dressed in mirrors.
You are a liberal fart, said one.
You are a fascist turd, the other riposted.
Waving the walking stick like saber,
they repeated wicked slurs, over
and over and over and over:
you cock-sucking parasite.
You gutter worm in a man’s hide.
Given a chance, you’d pawn your mother.
Look who’s talking, the serial rapist out on bail.
Soon they were shaking each other by the throat;
belching anguished gasps (for they were at a loss
for words) into each other’s eyes.
The crowd stood on the edge of time, waiting
for something to happen: first
the wigs came off, then the glasses,
then they were off each other’s hair,
crawling the length of the hall’s cracked floor
looking for their teeth.
Help me find my voice you rascals, one said,
head cocked toward the cheering crowd;
help me find my head you bastards,
the other repeated. Not one moved an inch.
No one wanted to show up sucker.
No one knew if it was for real or a piece for TV.
Sabyasachi Nag is the author of two previous collections of poetry: Bloodlines (Writers Workshop, 2006) and Could You Please, Please Stop Singing (Mosaic Press, 2015). His third poetry collection, Uncharted (Mansfield Press) is forthcoming in Spring 2020. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming in several anthologies and publications including Canadian Literature, Grain, The Antigonish Review, The Dalhousie Review, The Maynard and Vallum among others. He is a graduate of the Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University and holds a graduate certificate in Creative Writing from the Humber School for Writers.
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