The Flaneur: A Two-Parted Poem Written at the End of Another Year in India

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Part I: Bus to Delhi

      In this moment of bias,

as another city I leave behind faints
like a dazed beggar;

as the maroon monks
   I sit beside
   talk of god
      knows what —

                           The jewels of Nagarjuna?
                           Life in general?

I see the life I’ve been leading
has a little less tact
than I’d thought.

Who I am?

Where am I?

When will I ever grow up?

I’m living in India now but India
remains a mystery;
will always
remain a mystery.

Far away my country commits suicide
but I feel no obligation
   to pay the taxes
      it wastes
to pretend it’s not.

And my mind?

My mind is functioning sleekly,
ghostlike, pretending
   my problems aren’t there.

The world
   has always
      been burning,
it says.
   Let it burn. Focus
on the faces immediately around you, on the ashes
   in your every breath.

Part II: Upon Returning to Jogibara

Back in my room I open the glowing rectangle to check the news
   and the jewelry of it deafens me.

things hung,
                                on the brink.

The world I grew up in,
now only glimpsable through the web
is so foreign.

The days back there
just seem to hang there
like lynched men,

   and the minutes
never seem able
to be divided

I close the glowing rectangle and go outside
   to smoke a cigarette in my hammock and look up
      at Dharamshala.

The whole town’s electricity winks
   off and on.

The moon hovers up from the mountains’ lowest hump.

Another year
comes to its end
   in India.

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