Satya Dash

A fire that sings when doused

         Long before I ever lit a kitchen stove, I sat on verandahs
and dreamt about the rosy fire of hearths I saw in English movies.
Years later under the leafless blanket of a strange city, I found it hissing
in my own pits while drinking from the heat of surrendering

to another’s. As a kid I often sat cross legged at temples watching
flames grow into ochre trees, reciting prayers in beats of multiplication
tables. Chanting was the tongue’s way of living the brilliance of sound.
        A voice recording infinitesimal in everything God had to offer.

        Now any small knowledge, any sweetness of smoke is sacred.
Cold water leaping against the hot of pan, streams sluicing down
a sinkhole or just human slivers disappearing in blithe light.
The fever of twirling moments is not lost on my woozy mouth.

In my backyard a baby chases a scurrying cockroach
thinking it’s chocolate moving on earth’s floor. Such another
reason I’m alive is that everyone I’ve ever loved has justified
        to me the flowing vastness of the human heart.

        The earliest cardiologists proved there’s a theater of moods
in a corner of our hearts. Tell me, how do I seek a corner
in thumping myth, churning force like dam on borders of our thrill.
Bone orchard dangling bobs of bloodfruit, calling my name.

But still evading tips of fingers, the curving countries of palms.
The elusion so smooth, even conceit is graceful. A search for
derelict theater finds me a constellation of clues― usually in a person
        or their room. I swear I would do all of it again in God’s lashing rain

        to drift on rocking boat, chant verse with hitched throat,
even in the tongues I don’t speak. For the bone of song isn’t anthem
or dirge, its dim bulb shining an overhead lightning surge. To reach where
the serpent of thunder winds up is not the reason I so unabashedly sing.


I’m meeting a friend      it’s been years
the bar’s dingy shade      hovering on her head
her acerbic humour      she hasn’t lost a tad
I read my latest      your poems are still sad huh
we glug whiskey neat      she belches tendrils of meat
it’s a ritual of venom      to culminate in sermon
her mascara drips      in slow trickle on chilly chicken
I watch this botched gastronomy      morph into slow blossom
I ask if she’s okay      we recount days from college
they’re now arduous to summon      their total reckless abandon
she says she wants forgiveness      she doesn’t know where to look
her eyes crackle in dim flood      rubbed soft in Marlboro smoke
the hands of a dusty clock      in the barren tundra bar
hum in my ear      the weightlessness of midnight
thrumming my conscience      it’s time to leave
when she whispers like balm      read me another, please

Satya Dash’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in Passages North, Cosmonauts Avenue, The Florida Review, Pidgeonholes, Glass Poetry, and Prelude, amongst others. Apart from having a degree in electronics from BITS Pilani-Goa, he has been a cricket commentator, too. His work has been twice nominated for the Orison Anthology. He spent his early years in Odisha, India and now lives in Bangalore. He tweets at @satya043

Previous: Michael AkuchieIssue 10 • Next: Ellen Sander