The Manchester Review
Vivek Narayanan
Two Poems
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Three Part Circumnavigation of Mr. Subramanian’s Simultaneous Presents


Waking up in the simultaneous present:

Enter, in the very midst of awakening’s wrangle
a sudden but not unusual recall of being alone
in the afternoon
          of another life, another city. It is only human
to live in the past, but a code
in the noisy determinedly disinterred bar
of the brain. Too many places,
each one different. Too many themes, all of them
same. Once to have entered that there but not
be able to later. Witness is all
he has to offer. A number of many humans leaving
trails, wrangling their way along.

Does it matter if it counts as a dream? In that mild afternoon alone, he walks, happy and
in the morning of the poem he wakes happy, alone and if he were bright our hero might
          snap to make snazzy connections between the two
but all he knows as he rises to boil the milk, switch on the geyser
is the relentless pressure to continue and
that the cumulative effect of more than one happinesses
is somehow sadnesses, the longing godlike to be
in many places, all the time, with afternoon already entering
in this one, already going in that one, his coat put away,
the ceiling fan resuscitated, and summer, deadly summer,
wrangling in its brand of bright decaying life. Human,
too human, alone with his spangling self
and the suicidal pigeons on the ledge who in fact
are more persistent than suicidal in attempts
to enter the gauze, Monsieur S. himself
is not quite cracking the code of the succession
of moments that is he (reality would be my favourite movie,
a friend said, except that it never begins).


A brief catalogue of discernments:

In Hillbrow, Johannesburg, it is that very afternoon, and in the afternoon the escort agencies are relatively quiet; a pregnant woman scuttles from one to the other.

In Barranquilla, it is morning, and the rain there rivers the streets.

In Dubrovnik, it is evening long before the first bomb, and hunger has set in. A man insists that he is not gay.

In Tokyo, one has entered a morning that gives off the smoke of heat and perfume.

In New York, biography clings to poetry alone, encryption, in the hope that contours of life emerge. But there is a price we pay for telling our stories. That price is the stories of others.

In Kumbakkonam, the Government College is still a Cambridge of the Eastern World, no fetid cannibalistic weeds yet bungle the flow of the great Kaveri. Efflorescence is understood to be a right. Was.

And here, in the place of writing, the taps are always hissing.


Fragment: coda

o let it dangle then that disinterred afternoon
let alone be the code for human
for in our oneness our crinkled codes will diverge
in the alone afternoon I enter as human