Old Man in Sorrow (On the Threshold of Eternity) - Vincent Van Gogh 1890, Oil on canvas
What kind of ache? What sort of void? What sequestration? Who administers the medication? Who crumbles in increments beneath the hard white sky? Who tears? What rain of talons and teeth on tired skin? What sleep? What dream? What pointless narrative—clear and quick and predictive.
My heart pounds in the sunlight. Quiet afternoons, long drawn and narrow. Life blood runs over bones. How I move my arms, weighed by relentless friction. What color, composition, shape, hunger. Each wrinkle’s secret tucked inside it to forage at leisure. What recess? What relaxation? How to count birds rooting for warmth in the hollow of my cheek? What songs whistling tornado balloons the heart. What cache of winged seedlings died awaiting rain? What doings encased in photo-albums behind veils of plastic? What un-doings snooze in cerebral cup like blacked-out graffiti? What life stored in twenty-seven disorderly boxes.
How youth in a trumpet roared sharp scaredy in city alleys. Listen. How time hammocked in pubescence snored inveigle shapes—blackberries, boobs, bananas. How plans folded smooth like honey, moon pigments, firefly flutters on tongue—taste of freedom in the wind. How rainbows whirled dervish on new bone wandering under dresses with white fingertips and red awakenings. How mud caked in hands as hands caked mud into utopic designs. How tempest, temptress eased into cytoplasm instituting mellifluous laughter, noise, boner. An idea alive in each hair—treasure quests—now lifeless gray ashes falling.
Why not topple and fall down dreams until I sink deep through layers of time? Why not crawl in remnants of lives unknown I have known—wing-flaps, halos, banjo monkeys, cookbooks, tricycles, sea-shells? Why not find a tree to hang a swing between two highest points, infinitely pendulating? Why roots, loose old roots holding, for a man made of breeze? What hopeful wishing in knotted spine that will not unbend. What chocolate sludge swirling out of acrylic teeth in a water-glass. What lips wrinkled with water, with age, with lemon rind, with gin and tonic? What creature over exerted to all points pinning the skin of the earth to regression? What regret? What redemption?
Reminiscent of air borne babies. If I can’t wing down this plot, I must embrace the turning. All the attainments encased in the fingers of the gloves, bottomless and rotting leather smells. Carapace of warmth to shroud skin stinging with cold liquid twinges of marrow, mouths, memories, eyes pressed against the sleeve of time, my anxious uncertain heart unseeing. I will sweep the mutable with my fingers. What obedience in old blood humming. What compliance in brittle bones snoring. What tales tucked in deceased tail sperming the consenting moment of unrest. Let the thickened optics trick out the days.
What disciplined ebbing, bone to froth. What over-roasted life, dry, unhandy with machinery, pen, shovel. What anamnesis of cheap thrills, ex-wicked wit, fields of unyielding endeavor, circuitous courtships with the beloved, gut, glamour, grace. What after thought extending to far reaches of self to collect sun and poppies from a fair summer with silk dove sails and a strong sense of purposefulness? What question marks yes. What error in negatives. What blind mouthless dream dreaming. What silence. What friendless yard. Where is the limit? Where I, not yet. Am I there?
What notion of today. What ideation of past. What cacophony like boulders like bees. What shoulders? What headstands? What knees? What umbilical graveyard scattered with shriveled bones of discontent. What plays what sky what stays? What old man dreams. What want? What one last thought? I was a child once and I had it all.
The Uncertainty of the Poet - Giorgio de Chirico 1913, Oil on canvas
As the horizon reclines, night forms around the dents between the trees. Through the net of eucalyptus, inquiry fishes the sky for stars that sift the dark for principles carried from far perimeters—zero, infinity—and that’s the math inside of which we weal and woe, dividing contentions into sums to fit life; The stars’ Braille reads comprehension without an end, micro receding to nano. Is it universal or clusters of particulars? Dreams make resonant multiplications. We engineer boundary commissioners to gallop theories for answers; everything needs to be found, given a form. Verbs exist to be conjugated. Mice, to be dissected. Only three twos can enter a six. Salt is the bone of the sea. Most humans are born headfirst. 206 bones in a human body, heart is not one of them. But it breaks. Enter poetry. As many twos can enter six as you like. Black on black, feathers scribbling graphite dust (C, atomic number 6, atomic weight 12.011) across riddles ribs (12 pairs) to rescue the night. Science, of course, is factual, proven, with roots in stone. If it weren’t for it we would have no way of understanding (check one) o Time o Volume o Gravity o Oxygen o Pituitary Gland, and we’d be an unnumbered anarchy of bones and atrophy eating and feeding on the fossil of a bang thinking it all swivels and circles around us—poetry, of course, is chimerical, fleeting, with water for roots. Between stone and water, inquiry. Zero, Infinity. The comma is where Descartes planted his doubt.
I and the Village - Marc Chagall 1911, Oil on Canvas
Painting limed upon the mind bent by the saddle of time is a fairytale in a rubik's cube where construing presents truth like a drunk dream, translucent, fractured and anti gravity. If clarity of shadow: Envy. If moon scars: Arsenal. If goat: goat-milking the memories retained in the pore skin of Alexandria. Like hydroid. Like hindsight. Like circuitous conclusions to absurd days. Like an old timely button pressed upon your cheek. Like the shape of a wishing. Like no one has ever released banshee on canvas.
ANUPMA JHA lives in San Diego, California. She has been published in The Battered Suitcase and Caper Literary Journal. She is currently finishing up her first book of poetry.