Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Poem Nine


Madurai, India

Those smooth leg, hairy leg, sticky details
of the slowly explosive touching
ending the modeling session

for this sign suggesting women showering here
dress à la Miss
Illicit Nightclub
Bombay 1966,starched-to-high-goofiness shorts for the gents,

out from those parts of his job
the attendant figures it’s simple survival
to mouth-breathe through,
black clogs, the clotted mop, knotted muscles
shot through by the red arrow
labeled No. 2 pointing at the dim part,
the squat latrines. But those figures,
ultimately sexless,

cling to their clean nameless distance
of personal soapy spaces and resist

his scrunching together
the lobes of his brain
to make them touch from each otheryet
another reason to shower.
And as rupees clink in steam of soapsuds gone to stink,
bell timers jostle his concentration blurry back
to business, back
to soul,

bare breast visions sheared clean
by a blinding slice of Lord Jagganath light,
and the visiting temple priest from Allahabad’s head
suddenly a torch at being poked like that.

Tonight out back
stray brown dogs
will warm wormy stomachs
on the fire built from whatever scraps

of cloth he’ll find left in the stalls.
Dust, ash, the woven mat his dreams forge
into a bed of nails
from which he’ll rise all holes,

all injuries absorbed,
snooty doubters
finally forced

to consider seriously
his claim:
“Clean feet, worthy armpit pilgrims.
Without me, the temple loses meaning. Our

Lord’s dignity,
dirt. ”


At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love this poem. i have nothing particular to say other than i really like the whole thing.

At 7:31 PM, Anonymous RK said...

As usual, great stuff here.

One interesting thing is that the tone seems to shift (intentionally, I sense) when the dog is brought into it. It feels like when you're seeing a band play live, and all of the instruments are strumming/drumming/pounding/etc. at once, and then they all stop, and there's just that one piano note playing slowly like a pulse. Not sure if that makes sense, but I think it's a good sign that the poem makes me think of an entire band playing onstage...


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