In the Land of Blemishes


If the angel you were reluctant to love
the villain you were in love with                     crossed paths,
how long before your memory outgrew                        your embarrassment?

At the brief intersection of their paths, you watch
the grass grow harder in protest like toothbrush bristles
stiff from their trysts with enamel, the soil of the momentous patch
soft like a halo to preserve the dignity of an upright
being desperately leaning towards grace.
                                                                  Rest assured, you’ll be given enough time to dip
                                                                              your body in hot or cold water, to scorch
                                                                           or rinse the mass of recalling formed inside
                                                                                      that helped you arrive at the answer.
To be fascinated with longitudes is the earliest memory
you have of the planet, kickstarting the singularity of life
in your head. And how time suddenly grew precious—each
degree on the map multiplied by 4 to know how far
ahead or behind, in minutes, the lashes on your limbs
were from the ones on your eyes.


As a consequence of neat millisecond blinking
you saw over the cliff—three consecutive moons
and in the jeep, the four wheels making
almost perpendicular blind turns on a hilly road, your mother—two
faced in grime and gloaming
wonder, the inevitable shade the second half of a journey waxes over
an earnest face. The trip doesn’t end when the flight lands,
                                               the trip ends when mother and son share a tear looking away
                                                                                to commemorate the years that went by,
                                                         much like the postal department releasing in reverence
              a pictorial stamp with a printed denomination—what picture would you choose?
                            Would you choose a single wash like a shade from a catalog of house paints?
                                                                            Since you’re thinking about it now, which color?
When you inherited a box           full of stamps from your father,
you called yourself a philatelist           until it demanded of you
an individual contribution.
                 When you sit on the sofa, pummeled by the concept of                     orgasm,
                                           your brainstem is irate           from the use of the word come,
                                its history of flummoxing climaxes masquerading as memo of puns.
                                                     Would you view fire with the same remorse, if you were
                                                   an ant? Would your antennae be receptive to concepts?
Is this a dramedy?           Only if you’re in a good mood. Only if you want to role play.


Often you learn to enjoy a thing, after watching
someone enjoy it. Mimetic, your constitution
to learn the formulas of pleasure.
On listening to a man in a black tweed coat deliver
a tipsy lecture on the vanishing freedom
of speech in the country
at your favorite bar, you’re relieved to know
                                                                                 the formula changes without warning
                                                                   or structure. Also a relief that the bar is empty.
                                                                                      You whisk away imagistic prompts
                                                           from his intoxicated offering. The bartender glances
                                                                           at you. He knows this is not your first time
                                                                as a beneficiary of either eloquence or generosity.

SATYA DASH is the recipient of the 2020 Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize and a finalist for the 2020 Broken River Prize. His poems appear in The Boiler, Anomaly, Chestnut Review, Rhino Poetry, Cincinnati Review, and Diagram, among others. Apart from having a degree in electronics from BITS Pilani-Goa, he has been a cricket commentator. He has been nominated previously for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets. He grew up in Cuttack and now lives in Bangalore, India. He tweets at: @satya043.