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.






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.


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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