In a Poetry Reading



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

We realize—

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,

Half-heartedly exploding.


Twitter @bibek_writes


2 thoughts on “In a Poetry Reading

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