Editor's Note

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

of thirst.

 

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

*

we aspire

to fullness.

 

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.

*

father,

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,

 

the incarnadine

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.

Acknowledgments

Image credits:

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.

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