On the screen
Kurosowa’s weeping demon says,
waiting to die is not living.
Japan dreams about nuclear rape –
Beheaded peaches dance
the dance of death.
Upon the knee-deep snow on mountains
men encounter slumber
and the strangling fairy.
In the corn fields of Arles
Van Gogh walks into the burning horizon of death
where the crows do a swirl dance.
Mutated blossoms cuckold
humans to give them horns.
Those whom death has spared
live in wait of death
among the zombies clamouring for life.
In these halls of suffering,
tubes sown deep into the veins
lie the lambs of sacrifice.
Blood creeps down the tubes
dark with toxic waste,
to be washed and recycled
until it goes threadbare
in this relentless struggle for survival.
Dialysis confronts Dionysus.
Just about two hundred metres away
a man shot up from the sea
like a flying fish,
slumped back throwing up
sharpnels of foam.
A meteor crashed through
the blue sky of afternoon sea;
breakers licked our feet.
He didn’t emerge a second time.
Anna told me, “It was an optical illusion
caused by the pressure of the sun
on your retina.”
She began chasing
a measly cat that had just appeared
from beneath an overturned fishing boat
the carcass of a sperm whale
on the seashore.
She followed it clucking
to the other side of the boat.
She said, “The cat too
is an optical illusion.” Then
she shaded her eyes from the sun,
studied me in great detail
and declared that I was
an optical illusion too.
For the rest of the day
we took care to disbelieve
the urges we felt for each other.
The little girl stretches her arm –
kids do when they cry out in fear.
She is white and blood spots her face.
In the frame, a helicopter
dots the sky, a man lies supine
behind her; the half of a fallen wall at
her side. She sits, for she is yet
not the walking age. She calls you
in the loneliness of the war.
Under your gaze she becomes black,
desert is what gives birth to her.
In the sky vultures, behind her
the skeleton of a camel.
She cries for a drink of water
and a grub of bread. Her arm begs
of you to shade her from the sun.
Prathap Kamath is a poet from India. His published works are Ekalavya: a book of poems (2012) and Tableaux: poems of life and creatures (2017). His poems have been anthologized in The Dance of the Peacock: An Anthology of English Poetry from India (Hidden Brook Press, 2013), and published in journals like Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts, Journal of Literature and Aesthetics, Chandrabhaga, Muse India, Open Road Review, Modern Literture, Madras Courier, Literary Yard, Tuck Magazine etc. He is Associate Professor and Research Guide of English with University of Kerala in India.