Two Poems

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