‘Of Poets’ & ‘The Event Horizon’ by Aditya Shankar

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Of Poets

Let’s give it to them. They say what we want to.
Over and over. They use the word together with

intent; may be as important as a hoarding punch line.
If salesmen, they had sell fire to the sun, and air to the

wind. If henchmen, they had swirl their cudgel at the
cruel master, first thing. Sorry for the simile. I panic

over their employability. Their resume, not clean
according to corporate lingo. Their references, the

inverted bar chart of a stock in free fall, a statisticians
nightmare. Their friends, unfaithful narks who offer

a bed for the night, only to turn them in. Their savings,
dang! The kids know more about banks. Their credit

score so low they can’t buy a cigar on loan. Hardly a
surprise then, only dead-metaphor-types write poems

about the beauty and grief of the world and become
important in the eyes of pet dogs and gardeners, or the

secretary of an apartment association, the editor of a
corporate funded magazine, the advisor of a corrupt

government. While poets rot away in detention, their
hands bend irrevocably, their penis nailed to the table.

Their anti-fascist mouths, sutured. Their legs, tied to the
prison bars, stunted. Their face veiled in sedition, banished.

They return from exile and torture to see that their words
have gone out of vogue, that we have stopped printing

their quotes on T-shirts, placards or flags. So they curl
on pavements, along with their poems and stray cats,

until their esse surface like a ballooned cadaver. Stench
of their words, undying. Poets, the bleeding tongue of time.

The Event Horizon

Take note:

the home clock is
an open eye
of surveillance,
of detached vigil,

even after
years of togetherness.

A tearless eye,
at the deathbed.

A parched well, in
the barren expanse
of vacuum.

A twisted mirror,
even in grief.

Isn’t it time that
we split ways,

evade the
event horizon*,

return to the
world of mortal eyes?

There is drama
in their waiting.

Throbs oust ticks, the
rhythm of breakdown
fades like windshield mist.

The one who waits
stands on a cliff,
ascends a tall tree,
perches on church-top cross.

Either to fly,
or to fall.

In the one
about to
turn the corner,

we would see
a nest for lovers,

a neo time in it, that
ticks only for us.

The eye of that
clock never turns
into a camera —

It chants
a mantra of
wilful sacrifices.

Note: * – A notional boundary around a black hole beyond which no light or other radiation can escape.

Aditya Shankar is an Indian poet, flash fiction author, and translator. His poetry collections include After Seeing (2006), Party Poopers (2014), and XXL (2018). His book of translations titled ‘Tiny Judges Shall Arrive’ is forthcoming from Hong Kong. His animated shorts have participated in International Film Festivals. He lives in Bangalore, India.

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