Two Poems by Vikas K. Menon
These poems were submitted by Vikas K. Menon as part of the 2015 PEN World Voices Online Anthology.
Vikas K. Menon’s event: Priya’s Shakti: Augmented Reality Comic Book and Exhibition
Dysmoored, my hands wandered
that sterile landscape
of black & white keys, searching
for my sound. Like shopping at Sears
for my traitor body:
all overspilt belly & male breast shame
I wore Husky jeans and slouched
at the piano as I did
in front of mirrors, a series of winces.
Where was Monk then? With his jabs & feints
between the staid steps
of equal temperament, like Billie skipping rope
all kneescrape & spit,
precious in broken glass.
If only I could have heard his
bumbling & humbled embrace,
flitting among the ruins. Because
I was a slurred roaring welt with anvil hands.
Trapped in my brown body, I sought cathode-ray
escapes, and found
unslakeable thirsts disguised as gifts.
You remember it don’t you?
you could not be made you want.
You were young.
I was young.
Did you hear what I did not?
What Monk heard:
our fractured & lovely
any available light.
for Brian Michael Donnelly
In your apartment, family pictures
crowd the shelves, a quiet host.
I open your grandmother’s copy of
Leaves of Grass and a handmade
bookmark falls to the floor.
In her hand is copied What
is the word we wait on,
why should we not speak?
Stranger, don’t pass us by.
She had told you how, as a child,
she had found her father’s
white robe and white hood
in the attic. How a schoolmate,
his skin like dusk, would trail
her home, watching over her,
though both knew not to speak.
In my home, my grandmother spoke
of men covering their mouths
with their hands, those who couldn’t
even be seen. Those, who,
after their first blood, were
trapped behind wooden bars.
Our grandmothers weaved
stories from silences
as I do now: there was
a heat that for years you
could not name, words
that for years I swallowed.
But Walt Whitman’s sweetly other tongue
always sang in us,
my Brother, my Stranger—
even as children, when
all we owned
were our silences.