Skip to main content

Who Is This Guy?

ISSUE:  Summer 2020


Now that I’m dead too, just like the living dead on TV, 
fat chance that the merely living will be saved 
by doing what they did when I was merely living— 
nailing their doors shut against me, 
hurricane-proofing the windows, 
positioning snipers at the embrasures.
Now that I have a dead army too, fat chance 
for the living, for the strength of my dead legions
is the eternal and irrepressible 
strength of nonbeing, nonbeing that terrified 
being into birthing the world, 
and then licked the afterbirth clean 
until the world gleamed with nothingness. 
Fat chance for the living in the face of that. 
Quail they will in the sensible storm of nonbeing, 
and weep will they in the face 
of my dead army’s weapons: not guns and sharp swords, 
but the residual fragrances of their lives on Earth, 
the leftover aromatics of the dead, time bombs, 
memory’s mines in memory’s fields, 
each memory wrapped in a fragrance,
each memory a drop of time
around which a translucent agate has formed
redolent with what was left behind 
when its owners vanished.
A molecule of honeysuckle and it is that summer night. 
The long shadows. The risen full moon 
casts a veil of leaf shadows over a face. The eyes swim up at you. 
Then an odor of roses, but powdery and particulate.
A stewardess at the dawn of the age of universal jet-travel. 
Your mother holds your hand in hers. 
You will be given biscuits in foil and chocolates 
made in a country called Switzerland. 
Then the burning maple leaves. Then the faint odor 
of tin before the monsoon sweeps in.
Then the torrents in the gutter and the smashed mango pods.
Then the rainbow. 
Then the rich, delicious mildew of the trailer on the floodplain.
You forgot yourself there. 
You never afterwards remembered what you forgot, 
never recollected yourself. You will recollect yourself now, 
in these fragrances, the indices of memory and the engines 
of my dead army. Now will the living know 
what they were meant to mean, and they 
will know that what they’ve lost 
isn’t lost at all, but is there, right there, 
dancing on the other side of time—
what they were and what it was, 
what it meant and what it means
just on the other side of time. 
The confusion can’t be endured. 
The longing is as if it were a knife, and for that longing alone— 
piercing and inevitable—
the living, the beautiful living, would, if I weren’t already dead, 
kill me again and again.



This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Michael Klein's picture
Michael Klein · 3 years ago

This poem is fan-fucking-tastic! For a few years now, I've been wanting to write--and most importantly, wanting to read--poems that not only face with a kind of bewildered but precise sensitibility, the 360-degree-ness of our current moment in civilization, which somehow articulates all the insanity and horror with some repreives of beauty included, too. I am still trying to write that poem (and may send you something in that direction). But you, dear Vijay, have written it! THANK YOU-- perfect prelude to a Friday in this year of forever.


Recommended Reading