I had an interesting kind of trouble while writing this note. I could not pick out a singular line for commentary and separate it from its whole; the meaning of an individual line depended on the linkages with other lines, the cadences followed each other, all of it felt like the part of a wholeness I could not divide. That is the power of mathew dominic’s surprising syntax.
Artful syntax is easily noticeable for it is a departure from the usual way of arranging a line. Its strange music and rhythm reach your ear before you’ve had the chance to ‘understand’ anything. It’s not just about what the poem is trying to say but how. mathew dominic’s work is exactly like that. You don’t know where his Carl Phillips-like winding, twisty, long sentence will take you but you don’t care because you enjoy the journey of his poetic line – stalling, teasing, breaking phrases, spilling clauses, changing directions and finally releasing the thread of what it wants to say.
— Kunjana Parashar
The Bombay Literary Magazine
these are things that are. such as
these, these and these.
the bower of branches crisscrossing
above, and the sparse light parsed by
all the laws of light and falling onto
the many layered leaf, of the leaves
of many layers, of the decomposing
forest floor, of the organism that lives
in the leaves, and leaves, but yet
it still is, beneath, from above, this
is something that is.
at one point of time, something was
done. something is being done. in that
something, the things that are to be
done line up in perspective all zeroing
into that dot on the horizon. unsplitting,
unsuspecting in the formation of a note,
a syllable, a dot, all of them, spontaneous,
river drop, river bed, pregnant cloud,
the circle of water, the cycle of death,
the cycle of being.
being opens its eyes only when there is
thirst, then water is found, and then the
eyes are closed, yet the water still is, so
is being, and neither knows the other, the
other is the one, the source thirsts, the source
and memory, it collides, bricks are being built,
being built from the soil: the superstructure of points,
cascading ambition and the slippery slope
of the climb. memory is this, so are you, in you is
memory, it is in you, just as you are it, think
about it and it fades, you fade, yet you remember
what you were, now you are and these are
such things that persist and are, they are, they’re all.
redemption song for joseph
the chair had a very flat top
its brimming but not a drop
of water is spilling
from the crafted surface
I can hear him sharpen his files,
the father of the son of God
the transient nature of things
is revealed when I leave the chair
my feet probing
the cool verandah
from the first breath was issued the first rock.
between these two events, millions of events.
the first rock was shaped and went through many
many many carbon dreams. then ideas
water, the surface, sky, rupture, voices within
closed rooms, the first virus was born. it felt
powerless, pointless, immortal and so
it took form upon form upon form. still
dreaming, it descended. upon arriving,
it had an idea: I shall rise.
fruit of this tree
you’ve been through the thousand
phases of compression
to arrive at this moment of falling
so fall to the ground
and let the marrow spill
one day you’ll become a tree
notes in a train part 1
a year after college
the narrator started travelling.
on a train, a distant girlfriend
asked a question through the phone.
he did not say, ‘I have embarked
on a search for God’
or did he? memory fails.
it could have been anything
perhaps the perfect tomato.
what would that be like?
fed on the lush alluvium
of a french village
sweet and oddly shaped
so tender, unwilling
into a boiling pot for blanching
and the ruthless skinning —
no, it wasn’t God he was looking for.
it could have been anything but.
he recalls that day. today, a sudden
grinding of cogs, rusted machinery
a sudden unease that twists the spine
shapeless. he is not at home,
there are no tomatoes, cheeses.
no goats standing tall,
just a plain sunflower horizon.
the sharp twang of a late autumn.
he picks up the fallen bicycle
then feeds his eyelids, shut
to the lush glow of sun
falling into the skin,
of his own eye.
notes in a train part 2
a straight-faced man rises from his seat.
midday, highlights clipping, the heat, bearable.
his nose is a feature, underlined by a thick dyed block of black.
he rises and becomes a man. then disappears in passing.
this is going to be a long journey.
a few days ago, today
and all of today’s plans
were just numbers. the next thing I know –
I’m packing sambar, hot
one fried mackerel, rice steaming in a leaf
and the sun rains down. I’m running
with my intent packed in plastic, crossing the ballast
and climbing into the train. the man exits.
my mother had called, unaware. objected to my indifference.
but I confused her for another mother. in this midday locomotive,
I’m thinking of my mother.
behind closed eyelids, relativity disappears. and
so does einstein’s wild, wild hair, mine, and everyone else.
all directions converge at one simultaneous point. truth is,
we’re probably afloat . and the paravur lake
passes beneath. but that is only the truth. who ever depended
on something so fickle? is it even worthy
of its space in the air? I turn my attention
to the sky. it looms above, nonplussed, dressed
in metaphor. an expansive skirt of joy.
I catch a glimpse of something
that refuses to cease.
Artist: Jayashree Venkat.
Work: These are things.
Image reproduced here with the permission of the artist.
A special note of thanks to Jayshree for her generosity and giving us a cover to accompany mathew’s poems at such short notice. More of her work can be enjoyed at her Insta account: @jayashree212.
Author | mathew dominic
mathew is an artist, film maker and poet from south India. he likes microscopy and snakes, and is making slow progress to a new collection of poems.