Poems by Anirban Dam

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Language

this noise binds us in peculiar ways
as if it knows the frequency
at which we resonate

I can predict the weather
by the lilt in your voice and you
can pinpoint my location
by the clamor on the streets.

evening is when the suburb
breaks down into episodes,
but all I can think of is the time you accidentally
fell asleep on a park bench one fine day

ignorant of the cold,
unaware of the consequence.

time knows nothing
about waking up dreamless, the way you do.

and perhaps our silence functions phonetically —
having no regard for semantics or syntax

but where we come from, it’s rude
not to fake an accent, but it’s okay
to fumble in your native tongue.

maybe, we are clusters of commotion
slowly evolving into language —

sound melding sound,
noise overlapping noise,
no more, no less.

 

Details

somewhere north,
a tree I’ve never seen is changing color,
while the air heavy with politics
runs its course.

on days like these,
you speak of space and other obscure concepts

half of which I’ve never heard,
some of which I pretend to know.
(you never call my bluff.)

instead, you tell me about
the cities you dislike, cuisines you hate

my tone acknowledging
the futility of sophistication,
your laughter putting
everything into context.

maybe, we are just minute amongst the minuscule:
tiny snippets of sequence steadily
developing into a pattern
one speck at a time.

or perhaps, distance does to humans
what windows do to a landscape —
compressing your visual periphery
into a tiny little frame

forcing you to squint your eyes
till you finally notice the color
of that tree up north.

as if to say,
look closer!
affection is in the details.

 

Platform No. 3

Outside the platform,
there used to be a temple.
Every evening, you could sense the whiff of divinity
blend into the traffic

Devout pedestrians marching homewards
quickly stopped to bow and acknowledge the intangible,
their collars radiating from crisis
their faces wearing the absence of arrival.

P​u​ndits in their saffron mantle
bellowed their conforming choruses
the chiming of the bells subduing the chant of vendors.

Amid the tumult
an old lady on the stairs sold flowers
(they’d grant your wishes if you paid her extra)

It’s beautiful sound binds everything to make sense

Perhaps, some cities are just composed of commotion,
the clamor of footsteps breaching every conversation
the cry of a boy getting lost in the crowd

or maybe noise calibrates a language the same way
need amplifies a prayer

Years later you find yourself in the same spot
waiting in line at the ticket window,
staring the old lady who now sells sequins

And besides her a stray dog
licking at the leftovers on the floor
as if time picking at the scabs that history left behind.

 

The Commuter

March is a month of held breaths
only sweat trickling down a frayed collar
knows the roughness of a spine.

like any other day,
he browses through the share prices first;
bag tucked between the legs
hand shifting from one straphanger
to the next till there’s enough room
to accommodate his body weight.
the subtle yet perceptible
tremors in his right hand
gives away his age
regardless the neatly dyed hair

 

(age discolors a man
the same way photgraphs are
reduced to portraits with time’s passage)

his pasty skin mirrors the pages
of the wrinkled newspaper,
he sifts through the untidy crowd every once in a while
the disapproval in his tone subdued
by the din of mundanity.

homeward-bound,
the tomatoes are barely fresh,
unlike the turmeric stains.
his​ ​rolled-up sleeves reveal​ ​patches of grafted skin,
the body,an overworked machinery, gives in
to the rhythmic jerks of the train.

soon, he will get down and arrive
home, doused in alcohol, under the same roof,
staring at pictures, while being
consumed by the static of vacancy

(nothing fractures a man more
than the ability to foresee his past)

his chest turning into a trinket
that once held something valuable,
bones tuning​ ​in to the frequency
at which loss resonates like a lullaby​

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Anirban is a twenty-something parasite that thrives of guilt-free sarcasm and gluten-free poetry.

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