Apr/May 2009 Poetry

Three Poems

by Rohith Sundararaman

before the monsoon

around june every year,
the sky is fished
out of an inkpot
and hung out to dry
over a drooping clothesline
that hunkers down on
the city while the wind plays
truant: a dog that refuses
to fetch the stick.
a frenzied sea of human-
ity snakes its way past
mortar roads, breaking down
into sweat that seeps right
through the varied fabric
of singular skin, shimmering
on rock and boulders that make taut
the polyester slant across run-down
walls lining sidewalks: a man crunched
into the tent, inspecting sheets for a tear
as his wife peers across the horizon


the planes, they land with a thud

when you drive to the city
from the airport, you will pass sidewalk
houses not larger than a car, and at dusk
you see foot-long pyramids of charred wood
and coal balanced on shoe-shorn paver blocks
with the sun in-between. its glow cups soot-kissed
aluminium pans that reveal the secret life of water to kids
who dare to hover their faces above, shimmer dissolving dirt
from skin. women squat by the fire, their fingers white from flour
as they slap dough into rotis, stirring only for the vessel. men gather
in a huddle, flicking down cards with one hand while scratching
their backs with the other. later, streetlights twinkle on
their skin and the earth is swept by women, each
stroke raising a galaxy of dust to the air


the spring gurgles dry rock pebbles

with a sickle sliced
through the field, he
arches his eyes over
the horizon, past his
brown-red dead scrub
and white-specked cattle
ranch as the sun melts
in the distance, a splash
of gold in calm river sky


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