Collapsifera indica

in whose drooping shade
our nation’s fate
is read today

by what fury
charged with bile
by what fury
by what fury
crying havoc
by what fury
gorged on itself
by what fury

by what fury?


Say that one word that will bring back
itihasa taareekh istoria

one valise in which all the saved generations might find
a cracked eyeglass a thumbed magazine
a toothbrush


for Sudhir Patwardhan

Hand at the gate
fist around the stone

hand on the placard
fist around the stone

hand around the flagpole
fist around the stone

hand around the baton
fist around the stone

grip the flint-edge clarity
of breath ebbing from stone


The lightest smear of bird
balancing on a fluted column of air

the branches of the snow tree
outside our window

have settled on the surface
of the coffee we’re about to drink

what will complete us
falls from the sky


On dark nights scorched by welders’ torches,
alphabets rasp and click in gleaming beaks.

The wires overhead, necklaced with pigeons,
tweak messages with each slow swing

to static. Five men have been trying
to hoist a flag, whipping back an ocean of wind.

One of them remembers to toss you
an elephant’s tail. You tick that

off your list. One more to go.
Halfway down the hill

you stop. The brick steps have rained
on the valley’s sleeping roofs.

Sing, you tell yourself. There
are no more clues to be read.