Two Poems

Ajay Kumar Nair

2021

touchscream

diwali outside, & names smoke on my tongue
with the taste of burning diyas / in the TV’s

glitching glow the blue chips packet is passed
around, the remote has a coat of masala magic

from our fingers / with a touch, I harvest red
notification blossoms on green whatsapp boughs

watch the single tick split into two, then turn
blue under the dotted shade of typing, online

typing, last seen, typing… click on clickbaits
to be proven right / like a worm in the damp

soil of the internet, hooked onto a promise of
water, however salty, only to come undone in

an algorithm of annuli / scroll thumbnails on
pornsites, looking for something the shape of

us / but not clicking on it, guilted by what I am
looking for / when a rare torrent finds a firm

seed, I feel the world might just get along sharing
touchscreen dreams from broken echochambers

in the 3am heat, a hum through a flame of clapping
hands becomes a hymn / apocalyptically lit blue

packets of petrol pumps dot my dream like masala
magic fireflies alighting on the branches of a dark

country creeping north / I wake up shooting pebbles
across eddying shallows of my mind to roiling blues

of my body & trace its descent into the phosphorous
dark while being kneedeep in it myself / I wake up

under a blue blanket patterned with leaves fleshing
peach at the tips, burned by fireworks of yesterday

*

homecome

by morning, we arrive & the first thing I see
is the hand pipe planted in the front yard with

a hose running all the way to the toilet in the
back fitted with a new western / grandpa gets

up from his armchair & looks at us & sinks back
in the last of his skin holding onto his bones with

fingers around an inhaler / as he breathes into it
the capsules inside swirl like anchovies / it isn’t

as easy as it used to be, he says / we cousins sit in
silence & watch the justcleared sky with a harp of

smoke strung by a singing wingspan / come see me
if you want to see me alive for the last time, he had

said to his children & his children came, taking us
along / I find the last VHS of my parents’ marriage

unspooling quietly in a rotting closet but not
before they salvaged it onto a hard disk / but not

without pink & green glitchstains / dad cuts banana
leaves & aunt serves us fish in it that tastes more of

earth than water / a single strand of steelwool is then
a memory sitting down crosslegged on the winterfed

mosaic floor / a luxury to have made hunger patient
by habit / the children keep forgetting what they came

for / their father on his armchair in the verandah, inhaler
to his lips like the beedis in his youth, talking of spirits

that have stopped coming because they’re afraid of
electric lines / regrets his career in the electricity board

but collects his pension anyway / pointing at spots in the sky
where rainclouds snakecharm peacocks / it thunders like gods

cocked a gun into clouds & went bang / a dog takes cover
under a coconut / my cousin on his phone returns a smile

that sinks somewhere between us before ebbing again
at the first scent of his ringtone / it isn’t as easy as it

used to be / there will be ash on our shuttles as we
homecome / it is purple evening & we have to do

something / we shuffle a deck of cards stitched
together from two incomplete sets / a game of

donkey becomes the saltburdened mule with each
passing round / the smoke of the kerosene lamp

licks my grandma’s portraits in which she was
edited into a sari she never wore with a necklace

she never had / to show we already had what we
have gained / at night a whiff of the mat with its

fraying weave undoing the palmfuls of effort wished
into it / we resort to grandma’s old saris sunk in mothballs

of closeted air / the glitchstained TV is plugged out
to make way for the table fan/ from the stool it scans us

like a god’s judgment encrypted in a theory of winds
as we go to take a piss before we go to sleep / it thunders

but the tired sky only grumbles with ghosts clouded
in wrinkles / the toilet has a rope so that grandpa can get up

by himself / burnt firewood ash meets the ebbing of the water
all the way from the yard pipe / we boys can go in the woods

so we go to rain & come back wet / wait for the others to return
& look at grandma’s portrait with a garland shriveled to rosary

when everyone has returned we go to sleep under old saris
spirited with windy judgments / I dream of a dog with a spine

of sawdust walking through a dam of coconut shells to unbury
a VHS & some pills & a corpse of a fat lizard / by next morning
we depart, waving hands to erase some inevitable unseen shape

***

Scroll To Top