Inside a wanly lit room
Of a Newari café in a Newari suburb,
People who call themselves ‘poets’ appear.
I, too, walk in—
As if I have all the leisure in the world.
We—the ‘poets’—have walked a long way.
Now the weary legs take a rest.
The metallic tables reflect the fluorescent,
Almost blinding us for a second,
& with the wafting sent of coffee in the air
Wherever we’re from sucks,
& wherever we grew up sucks,
& each one of us looks like
An ugly lamp or a broken souvenir coffee cup.
Most of us have merely reached puberty,
But we write poems about
The independence & freedom
Of our penises & vaginas.
So, we who call ourselves ‘poets’
All the time—
Ask for beers & cigarettes
& drink like our favorite poets
Because we believe that all great writing
Comes from drinking & smoking;
& when drunk we turn our chubby poems
Over & over in our muddled heads.
Advancing to the stage like some
Of our favorite movie stars,
We read, one by one, our poems about
Our ex-boyfriends & ex-girlfriends
& how we miss their touch or smell.
But we might as well begin by saying
How much we like the titles:
“Hi, I’m a slut!” A blonde begins her poem.
“To My Virgin Girlfriend,” a pockmarked boy starts.
Immediately the poem has our attention,
In fact, it has grabbed us by the scruff of our neck,
& hurled us into its very center.
The first stanza, the words of which
Throw some dumplings on the ground,
Which we pick up & shovel it into our mouths,
& this act of word-eating establishes the mood.
Then comes the middle stanzas—
We can almost taste sauce of dumpling
With every passing word.
What we really find engaging
Are the series of images—hot like the sun—
Cool like ice—quiet like a cemetery—
Which give us a very clear picture.
Most of all, we really like the way
We, as ‘poets’, ‘bumped into stars’
& ‘tasted the lozenges of fire’, while
‘Roaming around the decaffeinated streets.’
We nod our heads & smirk at each other.
We, our bodies trapped in Amish pants,
Our minds full of crushed beer cans
& half-eaten bowls of dumplings,
Cheer & applaud,
& when the reading is over
We drink more beer,
& smoke more cigarettes,
& I love all of this, because I have
All the leisure of the world.
We stand up when the last stanza ends,
Because, we know, that’s the best part,
Where the scene keeps shifting from
Aerodrome to garden to cemetery.
But, we wonder, what kind of cemetery it is!
Is it an indoor cemetery, perhaps?
Because the poet was in the aerodrome
In the first line, & in the second line he was
With his lover in the garden
While in the third line they both lay inside coffin boxes.
Maybe there was ‘death’ looming
From the very first stanza,
Which we might have sadly missed,
& thought that it was a love poem.
After that series of powerful readings,
We go back to our usual,
Tin shacks of rented rooms,
& watch some French movies—
& think that we are Camus.
From one shit-hole to another,
We travel, & like all the great losers
Of this city, we too, in the evenings,
Watch porn & jerk off
With modern-age cyber dildos & butt-plugs,
& sometimes even the Vaseline looks more desirable
Than our genitals,
& we dream of getting laid—
Maybe with someone from the poetry reading—
& we dream of getting published one day,
& keep on dreaming until
We, with our tired bodies, slink away into
The yawning abyss of great oblivion,