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In A Year of Burning, 1975


ISSUE:  Spring 1976
Just why do I scratch out these impotent words
deface such immaculately virginal paper?
Words are neither bread nor water
syllables do not give shelter.
Why then?

Outside my window an exploding India
cataclysms of nature, rape in the estuary
heavings and elemental sunderings of earth.
By a broken bridge on the Chambal they sit:
cattle and children; stone-cutters; rib-thin, in the sand.

In the cities, hysteria in the streets;
men poised for suicide; in the slums, knives;
terror burning the flanks of the city
banners flung wetly down
slashed flags slapping on the hard pavement.

Think of all this tonight as you make that perfect serve
my worthy Galahad of the floodlit tennis court
while a savage India like a frenzied hound
leaps forward to assail your door
 leaps.

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