Kushal Poddar – Quarantine Diaries

Day Eight – Migrants

I like the heat this summer brings.
It is vitamin-d warm.
It is burn-the-dead-free scorching.

I turn up the news until
its loudness drowns the meaning
and the message.

Trapezing along a naked blade
migrants appear at the town’s gate,
and there they evaporate.

Hush. One neighbor coughs.
Should we call the authority?
No electric rage runs within or outside.
The tall grass gleams clean.

A droplet of liquid light rolls
between two blades of green
as if in its translucence
some gypsy sees us from past.

Day Seven – Spawn

I stare at the shiver that the doe and its fawn
become where my neighborhood trail alters
into a cloud so white it may not even be there.
I stare at the nature healing back its itchy wound.

A woman on the same pavement mumbles,
“My mother she was who led me to my profession,
and now see, now that no one visits my pussy
I know not how to elongate my life.” The signal
turns red. No traffic, of course. Another day. Lockdown.

Day Six – Plague

The nineteen eighteen army man
comes in my gloaming’s requiem –
they threw him into the sea,
and he, demised in the Flu struck ship,
sunk into being infinite, ice, arctic, melted only recently to
a ruthless restlessness here and now.

This dream plagues my quarantine day.
They took his money, took his soul.
The spectre howls my nervous lanes, a ghoul.
Then you say, “No. This comes from the neighbor.
The couple of a pending murder remains
stuck together in the box of isolation.
A berserk act is bound to happen.”
We listen. The breaking porcelain yells
to the shattering glasses. We listen.
The grass outside grows to form the wind,
and wind herds the fire to the end of sun.
I hold your hand, forever young. The plaguing
emotion combs the hair strands on our arms.

I read some haiku, aloud. Perhaps the neighbors
can hear me in desolated images tiptoeing
through calmness and seasons. Then
I throw the book against the panes for
no reason at all. A crow tilts its solitaire.
“Remember me!” Whispers an apparition
from nineteen eighteen. Long gone. Here. Now.

Day Five – Death Prowls

“We need to stockpile air-freshners” I declare.
“Why?” Asks my wife. “Because,” I sigh,
“death prowls outside.”
“This means you have misplaced
your marbles once more.” She decides,
“This is no sci-fi.”

The grocer has shaved lately,
declines to value the old world credit system
he runs for his regulars, “Tomorrow sings
a song no one ever hears.”
One weary hearse rattles past the colonnade.

Later in the silence of dusk
I meet the youth who has
spent all his excitement because
no longer the factory works – no,
not even his mother can make him
toil for his puny enormous household.
We both lack any income. Savings
stream as if summer’s inhaled
all of the brook. I chronicle,
“US has declared a bounty on
Venezuelan president. Fifteen
millions bucks for a narco-terrorist.”
He rises, “Let’s rock.” “To collect the prize?”
“No.” He says, “to refuel my chillum.”

Day Four – Hair and Plague

I can see myself in John Lennon
moonbeams flow on the terraces of my shoulder.
Who, I say, who will venture to go to a barber,
into that intimacy, foam and lather?

I see my growing hair hiss to the one strolling
by me. His hair hiss them back. I observe
an abandoned truck rolling past the roadblock.
When they search for the drivers they will be surprised
to see their locks devouring them and puking them back.

Imagine not these. Imagine no heaven laughs at us.
No bird is dodo now. My mane sings, hiss not. La la la.
A few more days and brightness will cry – a neonate;
holding its warmth in our trembling arms,
will test our emotional strength. It will pull our hair;
the act will make us laugh, and perhaps our feigned moue
will mutate to a smile – longevous.

Day Three, You Know What

The tiny window of ours zeroing to nilch
broadcasts a fight for the province between the crows and the magpies.
The world is theirs.

The low cough wanes to appease my nerves,
and I use my tongue to explore you anew,
and then the tension for the ration hits us with a brick.

I loiter to observe the lockdown, phase one,
show the prescription for my wife as passport.
A perforated soccer ball, still in the sidewalk,
reminds me of a gravestone for people unnamed
and buried in a hurry as a group.

A workless road worker asks me if I know
a cheap diner open. I stare at him. An illusion
no doubt. The busloads of no ones disappear
to the end of nowhere.

Day Two, Lockdown

“Don’t wobble”, I tell my brain.
In the fog an army of dreams
camps and demises in a flu.

Metaphors apart sprawls
the meta-city becoming
not what it began but where it began.

If you ever visited a third world bazaar
you will feel what I do
standings in someone else’s night,

and breeze needs my hair
to flesh out its yarn;
hope needs some flesh to forge itself;

I stand there – a tourist-whisperer
guiding you who have never arrived
through Ali’s mutton shop, Raghu’s fish,

the bad jokes our vegetable seller cracks
(I wonder why I never asked his name)
and through the pigeons waiting to be fed.

Nothingness plagues the piazza.
I message you – be the essential!
hope requires flesh to forge itself.

Day One, Lockdown

Blame my neighbor’s titillating apparition
who has drained her stock of Botox
by the first day of isolation – I feel
the hairs of my nape whisper, and at first
I know not how to recognise her,
then words form a sighing communication.

The first of the days of isolation. A gust of larks
and common pigeons sweeps the lane in-between.
She talks from her porch and I from mine.

There seems nothing else to talk about but
this, nowhere to go but here,
no man exists save those we see.
For one who takes pride in tales of her
exotic traveling she hides her thoroughfares well.
From an unseen corner howls of the pariahs say –
Truth passes the place. Then silence.

Later I call Donna, “How are the things over there?”
Noise of sneezing and coughing answers.
“How are you?” Yet my mouth utters, “All
will shine back to summer high.”
Droplets of hope traverse the length of ether.

Kushal Poddar @Kushalpoe is a writer and visual artist and is the author of ‘The Circus Came To My Island’, ‘A Place For Your Ghost Animals, Understanding The Neighborhood’, ‘Scratches Within’, ‘Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems’, ‘Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems’ and now ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel’ (Alien Buddha Press). Author Page – amazon.com/author/kushalpoddar_thepoet

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