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BOMBAY SAPPHIRE, ARAB SPRINGS (AND OTHER POEMS)

"Fishermen at the Corniche" by Vahan Luder Artinian

Bombay Sapphire, Arab Springs


Bombay Sapphire and scotch-tape.
If you were a comic, you might
do a bit about how one’s to drown
the pain, the other’s to keep its damn
mouth straight. Faltering laments


from a mosque, and in my mind,
the dizzying acceptance that all
our breaths were created equal—
stifled, alive. Hind’s telling me
about her grandfather, then her


father. About dissent, then around
4 or so, bequest. We’re wasted on
dry gin and the confluence of our
ethnic poetries. She’s telling me
how, if you’re Palestinian, you


get used to the idea of hyphenation.
Her tears glisten like minefields
of yesterday, and between the wry
glitter of cleansing, she reminds me
that her name means India, that


her parents must’ve known,
by way of cosmic arithmetic.
I remember things, kissed by
the wryness of dry gin—Doaa,
her eyes of rich, lost diamonds,


fuelled by the fires of a galloping
homeland; Tariq, his camera
as his mouth as Beirut burns
like a kerosenic angel; poets
and their livid prophecies, a


consummation of truth that
refuses to go down neat, or
smooth. Within the squalls of
incandescence that fleck this
negotiated city with its negotiated


nights, I think of home, how
every story here is allayed to an
Indian heartbeat—the sad,
prosperous savannahs of
Shillong and Sikkim; the song


of love and of letting go that
drapes Kashmir like the lightest
of Pashmina; coastal dreamlands
with colonial accents, having to
redraw their notions of memoir;


deltas and their manifestos,
tributaries and their names of
remembered intent. The night
has left, the gin is through. In
the shrill nothingness before


dawn breaks, an avalanche of
breathless telegrams, in this here
avalanche of negotiated lives.
Home. Stop. Home. Stop.
Home. Stop.

 

A Ghazal of Two Cities


I take you Beirut and raise you a Bombay. A poem sung twice; our scattered hearts
We drown our arak in the raucousness of melody. Cohen, drunk sliced. Our scattered hearts


It’s only when my eyes are closed that I hear Fairuz, her voice of silk and a known fire
The breeze mehfils us away to our most precious tragedies. Broken, flung dice, our scattered hearts


Let me play some Begum Akhtar for you via the fierce fickleness of tormented vinyl
Let her mouth be an encrypted encomium. Spoken tongue twine. Our scattered hearts


The Sufis speak of inherited love, like letters sent muskily from a faraway postal code
What is love but a song thrown at endlessness. An ocean lung spliced. Our scattered hearts


An Arabian Sea weds the Indian Ocean, engulfing our lives of woven, embroidered threads
Each thread, a story; each story, an inscription. Known, numb knives—our scattered hearts     


I take beautiful, slow sips from Bombay’s beautiful, slow jazz, its rush of liquid romance
Wild is the heartbeat of the world’s touched cities—a stolen, stung vice; our scattered hearts


Love is contraband, smuggled into the crevices of our folkloric, amalgamated poems
We move to the majesty of our proud, broken cities. Roses once thrived. Our scattered hearts


You write unfinished letters to me from Beirut, while in Bombay, the mythos of unspoken love. We dance like drunkards on tables and oceans. Swollen. Punk. Tides. Our scattered hearts   

 

Cinema! Cinema!


Amitabh Bachchan. Twilight broadcast and Technicolor ether.
The surround sound of our carefully scripted days. In a café,
in Cairo, as Layal tells me, the women dream a dream written
only in Hindi. Who’s to say how exactly cinema reaches across,
plants a kiss, and swallows a life into the fluster of frames—
Aamir Khan, serenading Marrakech beneath a brutal moon.
Damascus, Amman and the full-throated divinity of Shah Rukh,
the consecrated Khan. Lovers and lost mystics. The mystique
of movement. Bureaus of heartlands and diplomats of love,
or whatever comes closest to love. Bottle-thrush and the filmic
aristocracy. I could choreograph your happy ending, come, sit
awhile and watch the roar. Hrithik Roshan and his love-psalm
on a street in Istanbul. Who’s to say why cinema is the alchemy…
India on her lips. Substituted for a prayer. She folds her mat
and slips into some Prada. Life is a song that erupts, like, sorrow.
Burgundy, saffron, and amethyst. Scene: Exterior: Night—
the moon is a guillotine. An Arab chimera, marooned within
the utterances of ishq and zindagi, statued beside the lexicon of
raat and kismet. Because God can only be in so many places at
the one time. In the end, it’s only cinema that will truly save you.

Contributor
Siddharth Dasgupta

Siddharth Dasgupta writes poetry and fiction from lost hometowns, cafés dappled in early morning light, and cities inflicted with an existential throb. His fourth book—A Moveable East—has arrived in March '21. Having lived in the Middle East for over a decade, he maintains loving friendships with specific souls, a fierce love for arak, and a fondness for the land's older addresses. He lives in the Indian city of Poona, embraced by Irani chai and an always fickle muse.

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<p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">Siddharth Dasgupta writes poetry and fiction from lost hometowns, cafés dappled in early morning light, and cities inflicted with an existential throb. His fourth book—A Moveable East—has arrived in March '21. Having lived in the Middle East for over a decade, he maintains loving friendships with specific souls, a fierce love for arak, and a fondness for the land's older addresses. He lives in the Indian city of Poona, embraced by Irani chai and an always fickle muse.<span id="docs-internal-guid-ea0dc199-7fff-64b0-57c7-dbf0811cfd51" style="caret-color: #000000; color: #000000; text-size-adjust: auto;"></span></p>

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