“Will you be as gods? Gaze in your omphalos”.
– Ulysses, James Joyce

I have a deep and mouse-eyed fear
of my navel. An eyeless socket,
it has something ominous about it.

The tangled scar it cradles
is a disfigured rosebud that yearns
to open into perfection in some

exotic garden. When I have run
a mile or defied gravity, it traps
the transparent elephants

of my sweat in its abysmal ditch
covered with the palm fronds
of belly hair. It is the slipknot

on whose flimsy guarantee my skin
is stitched together, an asterisk
to which the organs are a footnote,

and the hub around which my body rotates.
When I feel the strong migratory pull
of its half-sunk industrial city

sweltering under the flimsy heat shield
of polycotton, I hold on tenaciously
to my extremities dreaming naively

of a cosier future in the centre
away from dirt and direct exposure
to life’s varied unpleasantness.



Kind is the night that divides our room
into muted light and the monstrous shadows
of our bodies carried by the bed—
a pack animal of wood— across the marshes
of sleep. Kind its moon-masked face
rinsed by rain, kind its voice that speaks

of impending ruination. On the table lie
the whorls of a jungle geranium—
a coronet of torturous thorns
for humanity’s head—and a half-torn page
sodden with the effluents of my penmanship,
a poem murdered before it could come

rampaging into our midst. Poetry runs dry
like potable water and its last drops stick
to my conscience like blood stains
on a vampire’s hungry lips. Ambrosial once,
we wonder if it has the strength to salvage
our life of shared illusions

stretched between the gladiatorial arena
of the mobile screen
where our commitments collide
and the TV that suckles us like a she-wolf
for the kingdom of post-truth.

Our desire must digress from ourselves
to a simpler love for coexistence
if we are to jump through the white-hot hoops
we have hammered our future into. Ancestral plants
should grow between us and our bed turn

fertile for reviving a dying planet;
we should feel humbled when green whispers
hatch a dream of sunrise in our spine
so fantastical that our blood goes mad
with the nomadic singing of chlorophyll.


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