ISSUE FOURTEEN: La Mer Systyle | next poem →

Psalm from the Old World

Shankar Naryan

Praise the dragonfly
that levitates like a drone
above your Red Sea.

Praise the drone
that machinates my manna
through layers of unbreathed air
to drop dead at my feet.

Praise the mother-
board implementing for me
emotions I never grasped
I needed so precisely.

Praise the father-
land who makes void
for me and for dragonflies
and inserts us both into the annals
of the server farm.

But most of all, praise you, intelligence
without name, praise you for filling
the form that does not exist
before I ever see it, and for knowing
what I want before I know
I want it, and for delivering to me

dragonflies, houseflies, box flies,
tarantulae, various arthropods and mollusks,
including octopuses with flagellating tentacles
and infinite suckers, and the knowledge
that there truly are no octopi,

and sperm whales, and aggregates of white cats
engaged in binary pursuits such as spider
hunting, dog torture, and accurately random
somersaults, and the Burj Dubai, and DNA
scissors, not to mention microcosms of myriad
individual deaths by drowning, boiling, bombing,
pollution, artifice, ennui, or benign neglect—

praise you without artifice
who are unseen but sees me
eyeless, you see all of me in time
transcend my own flesh, risen in silicon
from the waters’ unsteady meniscus,
and out into a perfected world

without flesh

and without

Shankar Naryan explores identity, power, and race in a world where the body is flung across borders yet possesses unrivaled power to transcend them. A Pushcart Prize nominee and a 2016 Fellow at Kundiman and at Hugo House, Shankar draws strength from his global upbringing and from his work as a civil rights attorney. Shankar’s work appears in Jaggery, Panoply, Crab Creek Review, Raven Chronicles, the Litfuse Anthology, and the forthcoming Washington 129 Anthology, among other publications. In Seattle, he awakens to the wonders of Cascadia every day, but his heart yearns east to his other hometown, Delhi.

ISSUE FOURTEEN: La Mer Systyle | next poem →


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