To do it differently

i: the way it is

 

the rich-country fishermen discovered the first victims of the accident:about 100 oil-coated birds along the southwest coast. the foreign vessel’s captain, a national of yet a third country – the poorest of the three – had been forbidden from leaving the southwest coast while being under formal investigation for endangering lives and causing maritime pollution. for the oil company spokesman the situation was clear: though the company may well have chartered the ill-equipped tanker to cut costs, International Maritime Law lay all responsibility with the shipping company owning and running the vessel. somehow the sole trace of the shipping company was the poor-country captain, also hired to cut costs.

 

                        *

 

A woman had just migrated to another continent.

Upon meeting her for the first time, her mother-in-law washed

her thick long hair with an anti-bacterial toilet cleaner

telling her it would make her hair yet more lustrous.

 

                        *

 

The next plan was to strip-mine the seas for squid.

This was in a poor country and a rich country alike.

 

 

ii: reflecting

 

  50% of the children under 4 are malnourished

_____        &     60% of the women are anaemic___            the report reported.

This means an annual productivity loss of $10 billion   the report concluded.

 

                        *

 

The non-union security workers’ job

was to guard the Christmas turkeys

and stop them from being stolen

from the frozen meat section of the grocery giant.

‘But it’s our right to guard them, we’re the ones who processed them’ 

the unionized turkey workers argued

‘But they have a right to live’ 

the animal rights activists protested

All the turkeys and all the claims

being made in the same world-mind frame.

 

                        *                                               

 

A woman with plenty of shopping

            slipped on a banana peel

            in a metropolitan market

            Several shoppers stood and stared.

            One of them was gripped by a metaphor he saw there

            He pondered for some time

            on whether the woman was the banana-flesh or the banana-peel,

            this woman from a banana republic

            scraping the ground of the republic

            which had eaten-up hers……..

As quickly as she could, the woman stumbled to her feet and walked off.

 

                        *

 

A man sauntered

           swayed

           and trickled

from one film

            to another film

                        to another

           instead of doing his work

           in the haze of a day

           when time clocks had been turned ‘back’

                                           to ‘save daylight’

                                           and make for greater productivity

         He took note of his lack of discipline

         but didn’t force the questioning.

 

On some level he was aware of what he couldn’t do that day

and on some level he was letting himself not do it.

 

 

iii: feeling

 

The almost naked artist

stood

at the tip of a wharf

on the edge of an ocean

sharp winds

cutting into

his cut torso

and toweled pelvis

He had built himself a maze

an obstacle course

                                                          

a ladder, a pole, a rope, and others

but before passing himself through it,

he wound himself into a long cloth bandage

first his arms, individually

then his chest

then waist

then his legs, stuck loosely together

then the neck to his knees,

bending over at the waist

and finally all around the head, the neck

with only a thin slit in the bandage

through which to see

through the crack between his knees

In this sculpture

he climbed the ladder,

slid the pole,

walked the rope

and so on

Near the end of the course

he took a broom stick

with an ass’s head on one end of it

and stuck the other end

through his cheeks

into the anus

Travelled down the last obstacle

off the wharf

onto the beach

and stood himself still

in cutting silence

soaking-in the wind.

 

                        *

 

In a rural part of a certain country

it is said

that a woman stripping naked in public

is a symbolic act signifying

she has reached the end of her tether

and will be pushed no further.

 

                        *

 

 

“Most of the people were frozen to death in the life boats. No one came to their rescue from the time they sent-out the distress signal, at 4:30pm Wednesday, until late Thursday morning”, the government official stated blankly.

 

                        *

 

a girl

awakens

in the dead of night

with parched eyes

and a coarse throat,

gulps-in some water,

and takes luxury

in feeling it

being absorbed

drop by drop

from alcove

to crevice

to node

to empty space.

 

 

iv: Acting

 

A stranger helped a stranger settle-into a new town in a new country: met the stranger at the major port of entry, gave tips on what to watch-out for and where to get candles on a low budget, helped choose a table and dishes and pots and plants. When the stranger saw that the stranger had a foothold of the place, the stranger left the other stranger to it. The other stranger felt thoroughly affronted. But you see, the stranger wasn’t looking to build a friendship. Simply trying to do for someone what no one had done for her.

 

                        *

 

            A fifty year old man looking eighty

            needs help every morning to button-up his shirt.

            His fingertips have not been functional

            since the military state tore-off his fingernails

But his handwriting keeps questioning, keeps questioning

And the vibrancy in his eye keeps radiating, keeps radiating

 

*                                                                              

 

A young woman tosses keys in her right palm

            lightly,

            in a steady rhythm

            as she walks

through task

            through task

            through task.

            She knows where what she has to do

            meets with

            what she wants to do

And she is doing it.

 

                        *

 

The readers did not recognize the lives within the structures within the stories and the figures

the writers did not necessarily recognize them all either

Those lives and structures were nowhere and everywhere

as were the lives and structures of the readers and writers.

Like a mirror facing a mirror, there was no reflection without eyes.                                                                

 

                        *

 

Ash-pink eyes

ash-pink

from being full

of

ash-pink clouds in an early winter sunset

and ash-pink raspberry branches bending in late autumn bareness.

 

from breathing for breadth, (TSAR: 2005, pp. 68-73)


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