4

The poetics of skin

۱.
the poem’s warm soul awaits your
ax, and its cut is cut from the forgotten

ribbon, the blight that soared in at half
past when, the riddle to cure the hunch

and bare the knuckle that sheathes the
curve that moves the curtain of a timid night.

۲.

There is a poem stuck in
  midthroatwhere
  pillageofnight
Dwells it is here that the ...
  The defanged poet is the limitless unbite
      We could pit an
      Inkpot of stain
  Versus context clamoring ...

۳.
The poetics of skin is
the fecund saying of

Yes; the laughable saying
more; the immutable

Want and the desecration
of dust as it mixes

With sweat; the sweet
Musk of the tall whispers

Masking a small anxiety.

۴

This poem rasps an aspiration balks at the tawny mold speaks night when what is 
true is not near at hand this poem is the antithesis of a humble dawn but breaks 
no bone no 
                   bone at/
all - we climb clamor call
      we              call what is beneath the calm           at sundown you 
shake down syllables
                           what is beneath the calm
                                                              at full moon you 
remember the one from yesterday the same the blood of the same the calm of the 
blood as it thawed
                      call what is beneath the calm    speaks night when what is 
true is not near - the hub of becoming stalls the broom of what is at hand is at 
hand and now
3

Where exactly?

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” – Rumi

Where exactly? Beyond morals - peeve of the evolutionary creed?
               Beyond night/day - where philosophy shoves
                                  and you move the castle
                                  of happenings/unhappenings?
               Beyond Thou & I - where self is wrought
                                   ere self is naught?
               Beyond earth soil the lounge of the nethervilles
               Below  earth soil the sum of all veils SurelyYou
               Jest RumBoy SurelyYou
               Jest
2

Notes from Monrovia – II

An unverified lock, at
Peace with the key of dawn, at sea, at
Tentive

To

   War as it unravels
       as it un

Derstands nothing, at
Sea;
                   the argument rolls out
                                rolls   t
Oo another seemingly benign tap
                            tap
                            tap.

Aug 25, 2016
Fresh out of a family trip to Malaysia, after taking in the expansive green, I was struck by the unapologetic African green on my hour long drive from Monrovia’s airport to the city proper. But proper it wasn’t in so many ways. The lush green of humanity that underlies all earth has its peculiar infringement here: the stark signs of an unasked for ‘development’; the fancy NGO cars contrasted with mostly older local ones; the few good expat-catering restaurants with security guards and the others unguarded, catering to locals; the expensive everything in a poor poor city.

In the sense of following two different trajectories of neoliberal development, Liberia is similar to Malaysia, only on the opposite ends of well-being; the one being a model for the other. While Malaysian greenery is being tamed to showcase exotic development, the rawness of African green has yet to be tamed; always a reminder that something more powerful lurks below the sheen that is currently being desperately aimed for.


Undone by what I admire, the in
Most anchor, the

Brass measure of all that is bold,
Is crass, is class,

The feed of foul and its brethren of
Impure, the brew

And vole that burrows each hold on
Touch and bruise.

Sep 6, 2016
Left Monrovia three days ago and came back home yesterday. Since the first impression I wrote above, I spoke with the people I worked with, getting their take on the history of Liberia and their take alone (deliberately avoiding reading up online), and this is what I got.

In the 1820s, freed American slaves (Americo-Liberians) started colonizing a number of African states including Liberia and Sierra Leone under the organizing umbrella of a religious organization, the American colonization society. By 1847, the Americo-Liberians, who had pretty much taken over the country, freed themselves of the yoke of the controlling church. This is what is referred to as Liberian Independence. More than a hundred years of being under the Americo-Liberians, the 1970s saw two favorable rulers in the 1960s and 70s in terms of having an inclusive stance towards the indigenous Liberians, especially William Tolbert who ruled from 1971 till he was executed by the ‘accidental’ indigenous military coup-leader, William Doe, in 1980. During the ten years of Doe’s rule, the Americo-Liberians tried this way and that to remove him after which the horrible civil war began in 1989, and Doe was removed by execution in 1990. Charles Taylor entered the fray during this period. In 2003, war finally ended and after a series of interim governments, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became president in 2006 and still rules.


That poet, he don’t do justice; does
Artful thought, renaissance

Crumble on a peach souffle, does heart;
don’t do justice; does wire

frame necessity capturing mouthful of
soul, prancing about the

hoary precipices of Saturn’s myth; don’t
do justice; peachy pie – chalk;

2

Tagore Kabir XIV: Is it not like a bellows?

This is the sixth post in the Tagore/Kabir series.

The bridge is the swan that tickles your
fickle feather at night; it is the shadow

That falls between heaven and
The idea of earth; it is the

Bellows that swings between the
Real and what passes for the act

Of motion and its resting place; it is
The poem, but you knew that, no?

Tagore/Kabir

II. 59. jânh, cet acet khambh dôû

  Between the poles of the conscious and the unconscious, there has
    the mind made a swing:
  Thereon hang all beings and all worlds, and that swing never
    ceases its sway.
  Millions of beings are there: the sun and the moon in their
    courses are there:
  Millions of ages pass, and the swing goes on.
  All swing! the sky and the earth and the air and the water; and
    the Lord Himself taking form:
  And the sight of this has made Kabîr a servant.

T.S. Eliot/Lao Tsu
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow – T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men”

The space between Heaven and Earth
Is it not like a bellows?
Empty, and yet never exhausted
It moves, and produces more. – Lao Tsu, “Tao Te Ching”

4

A permanent sizzle

But he who looks down from above
sees only long slender hooks hanging down from the oil lamps.

Excerpt from a translation of the poem, “A Night of Nihilism”, by a contemporary Chinese poet, Yan Hen, that I stumbled at here.

The power from above is a frayed
Silence, boutiqued on rosebuds,
Premised on huge stone steps, looking

Down at long slender hooks; the oil lamps
Have yet to burn a permanent sizzle, the
Calves of flame are tender, need rub & hue.
5

Notes from Monrovia – I

These are some wordspills from the last few days in Monrovia, Liberia. More detail, perhaps even more clarity, to follow.

I

So you have the sense of a
   long now, the perhaps of               a fire, a
                         Truce, axiomatic

Burn, the cut of a thousand
      the but of another
      sense of another
      calm of 

Tooth, axe,
       postulate of norm
       pestilence   harm of your unknowns

II

the pin of an inconsistent
    raw
                        ness - the
                        pine of ferment its disdain
    for
    all that isindolent
             isincohate

III

The sense of being a toy or a
    hound as a new world spills - dregs of 
                                  myinkpot
2

Tagore/Kabir XIII. X

This is my fifth post in the Tagore/Kabir series.

To be blind to all
     but X
To be exfoliated 
     of X
The retributive
     was X
Whence the unknown
     is X
Where the X itself is
     not X

Here’s Tagore channeling Kabir

II. 37. angadhiyâ devâ

  O Lord Increate, who will serve Thee?
  Every votary offers his worship to the God of his own creation:
    each day he receives service—
  None seek Him, the Perfect: Brahma, the Indivisible Lord.
  They believe in ten Avatars; but no Avatar can be the Infinite
    Spirit, for he suffers the results of his deeds:
  The Supreme One must be other than this.
  The Yogi, the Sanyasi, the Ascetics, are disputing one with
    another:
  Kabîr says, "O brother! he who has seen that radiance of love,
    he is saved."

Let’s count the ways

Let's count the ways the dead ravine
    Speaks; let's

Dine with hampsters and speak ill of
    Their fathers;

Let's see what's in store for the red
     Pillage of my

Ink tying throbknots with yours; let's
     Turn this eye

And go blind.
4

When you speak dissent

Doubt is never green
Doubt is never green; it
Can pose as a subtle shade

Of green, but the facade
Stops in two seconds; the

First instant you re-create
The mill of worry; in the second

You forget the question that
Raises the head of the hound.

The bull of an unwant
The bull of an unwant, the hull
Of fear, stroke of morn, hurry!
Call the vet, the cat of a million
Anchors needs play but won’t,

Can’t; the subterfuge of reason,
the stroke of morn, the hull of
Fear, hurry! the white of your
Eyes is lulled, void, seeks red.

When you speak dissent
When you speak dissent you strike a
Chord with deep, you

Mingle with the ecstatic component of
Hyperbole and reduce

It to mean, to song, when you speak
Dissent, you call the

Fire in netherworlds to answer, to respond
In repose, resplendent.

The structure of verse
i. The possibility of pain is an epistemological
boon ii. A permanent fire burns my hand,

and it sizzles iii. Deem the thread inviolable,
the threat inveterate iv. Cast a net that crowns

the sense of the ineffable v. The sensible is but an articulate corollary

The terrifying responsibility of action
The terrifying responsibility of
Action willing

Science to matter and verse to
Argument, parting

Seas into neat countables and un
Nameables, wishing

With tables, minutae, verbal and
Occular –

6

Tagore/Kabir XIV: the hue of hubris

This is the fourth post in the Tagore/Kabir series.

You seek the hue of hubris in
The pine flavor of sky and you
Call it I; you rest in the palm of
Wilful Sky and try, try and call it
I; you bring me the pulp of a paper
Cut sluiced and threaded with dread
and call it I; there are many I’s, no?

The original representation of the even more original

II. 56. dariyâ kî lahar dariyâo hai jî

  The river and its waves are one
  surf: where is the difference between the river and its waves?
  When the wave rises, it is the water; and when it falls, it is
    the same water again. Tell me, Sir, where is the distinction?
  Because it has been named as wave, shall it no longer be
    considered as water?
  Within the Supreme Brahma, the worlds are being told like beads:
  Look upon that rosary with the eyes of wisdom.

And here’s a useful tangent
The way you create a deliberate lilt
In the fabric

And let the hazelnut fry your brain’s
Abruptness,

Its thrust into being another, its voltage
Of stammer

And becoming, walking; this stroll through
A laugh and

Hammer.

8

The song of missing

So the song of
Missing goes out in the flame of care, the
Frame of care;

Being outside
We caress the patina of hard edges and hard
Messiahs, for

They are bare;
How my mind conceals your eye from me is
Beyond sight-