Cold-Boned Doggerel: Ranjani Murali
Bollywood Soundbite: We Are What Love?
In there, we string palms. Weed-stung, the melancholies
of withered gourd-seed scatter,
announcing the auspicious end. No black-mouthed villain
awaits in the post-production darkroom. Instead, we encounter
the razing of outtakes and silences. Movement finds
no arrhythmia here; to view is an act of repudiating direction.
I manifest the scene, he says, working with toes, every clip
a beak slitting interspaces, every snap of reel
another cellular imprint. Why trail words when creating
the artful sofa-dent, pulse-sprint, thigh-quiver
and sated throat unfolds within
his cataract? Why call the south-flying bird meanderer when
the trajectory of sun dictates taxonomy? Listening for
his feet when we embraced
before a patch of lilies, we cannot pretend to forge wing-
faces when the flight toward light has ceased. He will work
us over with his feet— a sun winding
our coronas, brooking no eclipse that may question our emergence.
We are stars and no trace of luminescence is our keeping.
S. Michigan Eye-Corner
Cold-boned doggerel— you mince
no word. No semblance of sublime
escapes your panoramic alleys, no
foghorn blares pierce glass.
Your offer: a stare. The unblinking
staccato of heel-dust and simmering
blankets of grease over rooftops—
such is your measured excess.
No song I sung patterns itself
on walls, no palm-print remains
on train windows. I want no cessation,
no prayer beads strung
on cotton, no fresh-pressed
paperbacks, no plugs blotting
out I’m short of a dollar. Got
change? I want no empty taxi,
no coupons for haircuts. The night
steams undone and my eyes open to your
rained-on fingers silhouetted against
a loop. Dear city, I begin.
I woke up leaning toward a flatness
that you never devoured
entirely. Your winding alleys,
your lavish pedestrian landings,
carpeted hallways (in free public
museums), and briefcase-tapping
commuters have seared nation
state on all my backpacks. I am
standing in the Midwestern
underbrush now, bare and flesh-
shorn, enticed by the sprouting
of spring-water, squirrel-scamper
and shadows careening off log-
roof train stations. The idea
of afternoon has emerged
again, amidst a polis carved off
watershed and bleaching knuckles,
and a pier that docks no
mammoth ship-mouths but
only my feet in blusters.
My toes are bound tight. An ink-
blotched goodbye rests on my forehead.
In a week, the muffling trickle
of asphalt-rain will commence.
Colonies of ants will sprout from
my tongue—a broken cicada wing.
Workhands will pour steaming tar in
shapes of lost symmetry. Their scent-
spittle and womb-scraping cranes
will clear fingers of pressed
bone off new beds. No wasting
cage-birds or finches shall be
heard trilling. New gravel falls
on eyehole and a new keyhole
sings in my throat. In some years,
a spine of Mysore thorn
shall spring from their villas,
trimmed hedges, colonnades
suspending electric lovebirds,
tanks brimming like thick
tongues, and their diagonal windows
speckled with shadows of ants.