Issue 3

Vivek Narayanan
Two Poems

Short Prayer to the Economy

prayers for fishes, tossed each to each in translucent glue
prayers for the hairy beasts, roistering in rolling tundra
if we are to conceive a world, conceive it—at all risk—one

prayers for the particular bicycle, knight of secular propulsion
prayers for uncoagulated human residue impossible to weigh in balance
and our economy that intricate grows, beyond forebearance

I’ve found I don’t know I need I to know who can I talk to who can I call what must I do where must I put it how can I use it what is your number who will you call where will we go how will we make it where will we put it who can I finger how will they take it where is the button how can I find it how did he get there who does he know what can it do where does it go how do you work it what will it work take what it will work it you do how does it where what can it do who does he know who did he get there how did he find it how is the button where will they take it how can I finger who will we put it where make it how we will go where call you what who number how how must I put where do I must what call I can who talk to I who can to know I need I know I don’t I found I feed

prayers for the musical crow, the intimate mosquito, whose kisses are here to stay
prayers for the contract killer, the contractual signer, unspeakable unimpeachable bond
and our shared godless theology translucent that hooks the day to day

prayers for all projectiles, red, yellow—somewhat bluish, spinning inert, riskily pulsed—
prayers for gashes of quarried stone, saunas of smelted aluminum, ever thinning
          veins of copper
from where the monstrous weather grows

I need to know he knows to talk to whom I catch we have to hear they have to give it has to know they could be us it could be risked if he will fund it risks a need it might survive if we can kill she could be right you could be caught he might be gone it could not happen they will be sharp it’s short it’s long they’re long we’re short it’s caught it’s sharp you could be right she could survive they need a risk it might be caught they fund we will if risked it could be killed they might survive it could survive it knows to give it has to have we risked them here they hear I catch to whom to talk he knows to know I need

prayers for the intestinal tract, whose winding road grows hidden
prayers for the rickety aeroplane, suspended in the air
the prickly fog will take us, we’ll soon be there

prayers for every scrawny stick uncountable, each one that I know by name
prayers for the murderous author, the dead reader, the dead read, the dead good
and lastly that arithmetic not of our making, its obsolete fire

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