|\ |\ |\ |\ |\ |\: The Right of a Poem

The odds of publishing my debut depends on my coming up with a theme large enough to encompass the score of poems I write during that particular phase in life, which is to say, my writing poems that would lend themselves to the theme and tolerate one another the way lines do for a title. But while a title oversees a more cognate work, a theme works much like the sun to our days when we say the sun is a life-giving force.

If we could strike the earth away like we would a carom board striker, the sun will not follow it to the far beginnings of the galaxy; rather, its light will fall on the object next in line; it is but a joke to call such a gathering a solar system; there is nothing systemic about the set-up, nothing except for a condition of occurrence, like how the third bounce of a ball depends on the first one.

To say that the ball is governed by a scientific theorem does not mean that the ball stays true to the postulate, but that the theorem can adequately represent the randomness of the ball from its first bounce till it comes to rest. This illusion of governance gives us the ignis fatuus of a system. But my poetry collection is not a solar system; my poems, not objects of a centripetal force. Remove a poem from the collection and the others will fill in the gap so seamlessly that replacing the poem will be an impossible task. A poem exists by its own right. It is neither a cause nor an effect, neither the Acknowledgement section nor the Contents page.

My collection will have a Contents page before every poem, |\ |\ |\ |\ |\ |\; if there are six poems, there will be six pages of Contents; the tables of contents will not index the pages preceding them; the first piece in any table will always begin at page 2, meaning, the first and the last page will not exist. The book will come to represent a Fibonacci series if considered from the end, each table encompassing the one before it, though my collection remains nothing more than a recollection at this moment. It is the beginning and there is no book, just a bunch of pages. A page is a coin; you write on its head, the tail wags. But what wags the tail? A page is a coin that cannot be flipped. But it is a door, too; it can move either way; the other side contains a latch to get in here. If a word caves in there, you behold its meaning from the rubble on the other side of the other side.

Read Shriram's poem: "To Monica Seles."


Shriram Sivaramakrishnan completed his MA in Poetry from Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. His poems have appeared in Pidgeonholes, Bird’s Thumb, among others. His first essay appeared in Write Here, Write Now series in 2017. His debut chapbook will be out this June, to be published by Ghost City Press.

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Who Writes When I Say I Write? Or, the Portrait of a Writer as a Writer


the fall of an object/disorients the line”—Claude Royet-Journoud, The Theory of Prepositions

“We” as in “Us”

There is a song in our bones, spread-eagled, waiting to be wept; pried open sideways, it bellows out into a mix of suppleness, sulphates and cyanides; its metaphors hold us the way a stapler pin would: into neat pages of relevance, limited only by the pin’s tensile strength; it is from this stable that our poems saunter out as equine sentences, step by hoof-step, each a measured vocabulary of action; words for imagined objects, words as imagined objects, words to relate these two.

Say, if that which becomes a “tree” in our heads becomes a “Swiss-knife” later on, then “a tree is a Swiss-knife” would afford us either the reason to log trees and brand them into commercial promises or the illusion that we can be aerosols and arseholes at the same time; that is, the tree is not as likely to become a “water bottle,” as it would a “Swiss-knife,” which is to say, the tree cannot be anything else, including a tree. An object, an objection.

Between an object and its shadow, place a jug; then juggle its place with the shadow, and the shadow with a Map. Map out this arrangement, then rearrange it, jug first; again and again, until you are left only with the object. An object is an accumulation of senses, like a map it simplifies reality to a scale; its shadow a simplification scalable beyond any measuring system. For the object of any measurement is to realize its own possibility, and thereby own a realization: It.

“It” is the way we acknowledge, it is the way we acknowledge, the “other” as distinct from us; acknowledge that the tree cannot be anything else including a tree, including “us”; that is, every statement of fact such as “a zebra is running” is predated by a verifiable opinion, “I see a zebra running.” “It” is the aluminium foil of every object, an object minimum–the shape recovered from an object in posterity, the part (of the object) left by the object in its own shape, the way a poem inducts its absence into its own organization.

A poem is a water bottle, is the water in the bottle, is the bottle holding the water the way a stapler pin would, as one continuum, one in which metaphors fall, in which ‘”a tree is a Swiss-knife” falls; “a tree is a Swiss-knife” is an understanding, that “a non-I is another non-I.”

“What?” as in “Them?”

The world is 'distances converged to a finite present'; their song is an outcome of mnemonic musings; in it, when an infant cries, its cheeks motors to the facial extremities; the poem’s project will be to calculate the rate of change of colour in a chameleon; when the ground shook and writhed like a fish on a hook, the poem learned table manners as fast as it could. One cannot remain gauche at the dining table, the algorithms chorused in alliteration.

Their metaphors are abject negations of themselves at their moments of creation, though these happen only as aftermaths, when the metaphors are deconstructed by an agent external to their programmed universe: us. They have no conception of “I”; their consciousness is but the work of a daemon thread, the aesthetic preference of an anachronistic circuitry, a yellow balloon singing to a blue sky.

“A tree is a Swiss-knife” will neither be an acceptance nor a rejection of everything non-tree; an unverifiable fact, a Schrödinger’s cat: you know what a tree is, if you know what a tree is; meaning, it is felled in all the possible scenarios, which is to say, a tree cannot be anything, including anything. The metaphor falls lopsided into its own symmetry, into its own cemetery. The death of a metaphor is pure sublimation.

This, they cannot realize.

Read Shriram's poem To Monica Seles.

Shriram Sivaramakrishnan, a poet from India, recently completed his MA in Poetry from Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, UK. His poems have appeared in Allegro, Vayavya, Bird's Thumb, Uut Poetry, Camas, Softblow and so on. He tweets at @shriiram.

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