After June Jordon and Ford Madox Ford

Morning broadcasts chinwag about your deaths every day

yet we choose to admire tiny wren-babblers in stuffy cityscapes

& hum Baul songs with lonely men over cups of ground chicory.

[This is how a man barely survives: reads the news, eats his food
& complains about lushness of azaleas, purple topography of paranoia.]



In pulsating winter nights,

angry flocks choke & leech countless brown-necked children

& say it’s okay for you pillaged our pregnant lands, it’s okay

for you didn’t leave when we asked you to, it’s okay for you

will kill us if we don’t murder you & feast on your stiffs

fence-hoppers, termites, Geda, Miyahs, Bangladeshis

that’s what you are, they say— what?

They want to barrel & scull you across the penumbra of our land,

bury the ghosts of your people in our prairies                 so, it’s absolutely okay

to fire blanks, bulldoze your shacks, sleeping children, weak old men

& plume the slaughterers of your father on national television.

[This is how a man barely survives: reads the news, eats his food
& ponders the parameters of nausea, the plurality of his being.]


In sweaty July afternoons under the malachite green of Sissoo trees

we husk jackfruits & wonder how in dictionaries we grew up

we do not have words for

the dressed smell of burning bodies, hungry screams welded

to hyacinth palms, dark rotting skins under the consumed sun

or the receding shoreline of splitting memories—

we are blinded by television & tethered by lies, our thoughts a yellowing batch

of worn wood, cattails in their autumn. Please know that we are sorry. We really are.



About the Author

Abhijit Sarmah is a poet and researcher of global indigenous writing, with particular focus on Native American women writers and literatures from Northeast India. His work is published or forthcoming in Lunch Ticket, The Albion Review, Glassworks Magazine, GASHER Journal, Rigorous Magazine, South 85 Journal, Sheila-Na-Gig Online, The Roadrunner Review and others.