Poetry | ‘Reverse Triage’ & ‘A Benevolent Lion’ | By Adil Hasan

Adil Hasan’s prose poems are a surprising interlacing of abstract and fablery taking over the trail-edges of mist-filled suspense

Reverse Triage

Billowing smoke through the broken shape of a leaf filled with grief. Colour spreads like blood through the veins of a sinewy arm. The spot where a man’s head should be is turning a liquid blue. From inside, a gurney is turning the corner, the pink blanket propped heavy, the body motionless. Of the five red beds monitored, two do not make it into the night. The nurse skates to the door and screams, “Transport, transport!” Freeing hands from large pockets, two sleepy men come running. One turns and nods to the head of a family come to identify a missing relative. Helter-skelter her children run for the exits. A shrill whistle is heard. Outside, I’m jumping into a rickshaw, negotiating with the driver showing me his bruises. A paramedical facility fighting in court to become a hospital. Up high, crows on railings stare belligerently into the one room reserved for critical care. Blue light from the TV cascades down the steel and glass hostel opposite. No parking. An unnamed side street in the city of Bangalore. A camouflaged helicopter paces the sky, thrice in two minutes. White clouds spread, cotton-wool tossed. Precipitation was expected. It pours.

A Benevolent Lion

In the open cage, amidst a large contingent of small animals – a benevolent lion. Instantly shy, I shield my eyes from the gilded sanctuary beyond the barbed wire. With leaden legs I emerge from sleep to a crisis in the far country. My companions lie motionless on the bank, like dispersed boulders in mud on the moon. From across the moat to the other side, reaching high into deep blue space is the jaipur castle. Through sandy windows come choral notes and the sound of a noisy stereo. There is soon to be a show of pomp and fantasy we’ve been waiting for. Androgynes. Androgynes will walk those aisles…

Now on the ascendant, the lion lowers his mighty jaw, making to speak. I flap my ears open and begin to weep. Spears and wooden tongues lash out at him. My companions belch and stutter, coiled tails sweeping arcs at his feet. In the escaping light of those distant days, this beast must come padding in. His throne the muddy mound, the androgynes will court, dancing in their old graceful ways, singing of the stars above. In the far country when you leave me to die, leave me to dream another crisis. But ordain just this: first, kingly flight through a jaipur castle, then the bitter descent to my sandy cage – as you fashion for me, amidst a large contingent of small animals – a continent of benevolent, gilded lions.

Adil Hasan was born in 1971 in Shillong, North-East India and lived in Bangalore for nineteen years before he moved to Pune last year. Having previously worked in the banking industry, he is now a visual artist and a freelance writer. His poems and short tales have appeared in Kitaab, Half and One, and The Thumb Print magazines. An exhibition of his art titled Escape The Dark – A Digital Fantasy was held in 2014. 

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