Poetry | ‘Obelisk’ & ‘Panorama’ by Ajay Kumar Nair | Issue 37 (Jan, 2021)


tonight, I fall in obsession with anyone
who notices me, drag them to that shore
of half sleep where reaching towards a
dream feels better than being in it, caress
them in the fridge glow of fantasy, incu-

bate their impressions then foster them
fettered in my fusty mind, to the point
that the real & the imagined become
strangers walking back to return their
cups of chai, one smoking a filter at the

dangling lighter, the other scouring his
fingers with oil from a plastic wrapped
jaggery bun, one spilling kafka the other
filling frost, two people diverge in my
mellow hood & I’m sorry I’ve lost them

both, at the end of the day we’re all alone
but hey it’s only morning now so I carry
an obelisk on my shoulders, black hole
in color, horizon in shape, reaching to-
wards that shore & draping it like a

double helix shawl of hourglass sand &
even though parts of my mind war secrets
at each other I touch myself with the obe-
lisk, with the world, scratch my body in
vinyl scars that make me music as I run

against my falling obsessions, touched
by the stylus of the world in exit wounds.


someone has to slide to the doorway
to fit the whole family in the frame-
everyone a splitting image
of everyone else.

holding the picture the girl
is reminded that jellyfish
is ninety-five percent water
but still jellyfish not water.

ants gladiatored in the colosseum
plastic box which once was
full of naranga mittai lemon candy
in grandpa’s greenshuttered shop
& later would heavy with surf excel
but at the time was pricked
for breathing space bathed in wonder
ants wouldn’t fight even though
the boy had picked them up
from different tree castes.

father spreadsheeted formulations
of organic compounds like frogs
desire, karupatti coffee, embraces.
mother was all the words at once
invading meaning by the sound of it.

when she hit him with her girl knuckles
learned everyone would have helped
had she soaked up the punch with tears instead.

boy will unlid & bury the exhausted
ants will be going on with a tulsi leaf
to mark their graves even though
he will shed all rituals becoming man.

mother will boy when father goes
she stops letting the neighboring sounds
tamper with the meaning of family.

the girl holding the picture mothers
when the father goes she tilaks
his garlanded memory & the fumes
of the lamp blacken her knuckles.

when she whispers the life inside her
none of her words are all her own.

when boy fathers his baby will suck
the girl’s knuckles reminding them
there is no gluttony in landscape
that everyone was always scrambling
up the plastic walls climbing
the fragrance of lemons & detergent
& all the images leaning on the walls
threatening to rubble them into dust.

Ajay Kumar Nair is a student and writer from Chennai, India. His work has appeared in Rattle, The Bangalore Review, The Shore and Muse India among others.

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