Poetry / Satya Dash
:: Flare ::
Ash and petal plastered on the forehead of the saint who refused to wake up from his nap, the profundity of his slanted semi- conscious gaze such that it looked powerful enough to tame the departure of soul, every word his mouth muttered in this tranced chant alliterated holy, every word an angular rainy lilt of an ancient cloudy tongue, the tune of which could have passed for the searing hum of an archetypal 90’s Bollywood lovesick song or the fervent intensity of a former cricketer’s catchphrase on air ( —the ball went to the boundary like a tracer bullet ), the tune captivating the large crowd of onlookers who had thronged from nearby villages to witness either a miracle or a divine death or both, among them a boy standing with his father and growing increasingly restless to go home and watch TV, the boy who had only recently learnt about the finality of death from history textbooks, his face turning glowering red while wishing for the saint to immediately die when his father slapped him hard for pissing at the base of the holy basil plant in the corner of the saint’s derelict garden.
:: Ignition ::
A stickler for detail—the monkey fooling around the window today or even my intoxicated eyes on a sticky May evening at a local bar washroom peering hard into a dirt stained mirror at the indentation on my upper lip, the sort resembling a birthmark but delivered acute by a mishap, the sort a hot metal brush could impinge from its mere acknowledgement; it gives my smile some character, says my father, his words impressing on me the permanence assumed by this mark, the evanescence of days accentuated for a moment by the compounding effect of such a tiny feature if regular and relentless like friction, how a 1% day-on-day growth makes a thing 38 times of itself at year-end, the responsibility for this scar assigned to the young doctor who did my stitches, who despite my dilapidated condition I remember for having a striking face, his kind eyes and symmetric swordfish jaws inducing envy that transformed without notice into comfort, the rapid change of heart that comes upon starving crops during glistening rainbow rains or that in the middle of a heated fight causes the incision on your mouth to be nibbled by your new lover, leaving the tongue glazed with a ring of volcanic amber usually found seething beneath the tip of a burning incense stick.
From the writer
:: Account ::
I have often been fascinated by the energy of the long sentence, similar to a power line running through a city, conducting voltage at a pace that at once beholds and electrifies. In this regard, recently reading Anuk Arudpragasam’s “The Story of a Brief Marriage” shook me in ways both visceral and artistic. The novel, set in the midst of the Sri Lankan Civil War, has many a glorious long sentence that meditates upon the fundamental human condition. Most of these sentences that took my breath away had commonalities: they were long and had the intrinsic force of a poem. I felt an urge to isolate these sentences, study them on a blank page, use line breaks and white space as a means to regulate their immense energy, to both calm and surprise the reader. This took me back to one of my favorite poems, “Gold Leaf” by Carl Phillips, one that embodies a majestic long sentence and continues to add or modify meaning through multiple readings. I often find that a good long sentence keeps its secrets intact. And through its accumulated kinetic flow, its payoff is built.
These poems are part of a series that attempts to use one long sentence as an instrument to navigate a network, to shine light upon its connections, tie together underlying fractures to furnish the body of a poem toward the body of a living organism. As I wrote these poems, the compound sentence transcended form to become a vehicle for the restless thought itself, almost like a train stopping at junctions along the way to allow intermittent rests for logic, finding new ways to twist and turn, both sonically and imagistically. I suspect it helps weave on the page what the mind sometimes yearns for—an adventure.
Satya Dash is the recipient of the 2020 Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize and a finalist for the 2020 Broken River Prize. His poems appear in The Boiler, Anomaly, Chestnut Review, Rhino Poetry, Cincinnati Review, and Diagram, among others. Apart from having a degree in electronics from BITS Pilani-Goa, he has been a cricket commentator. He has been nominated previously for Pushcart, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets. He grew up in Cuttack and now lives in Bangalore, India. He tweets at: @satya043