poems from Ravi Shankar's The New Transcendence
by a note on the author
Circus, Oil Paint on Canvas, 1950
Mine alone is the land
that exists in my soul
I enter it without a passport
like I do my own home Marc
river without banks
a cock in the corner
with a sly eye
head a bed for supple coupling
in green, coquette
up a man
moon on violin
orb, yellow orchestral
horn, cello, accordion
a diagonal swath
round, breasts round
lashed by the North Wind,
which doesnt exist on the skin, like a mule
I trudged through pisspots and crumbling
crematoriums, sans passport, lewd as a turbine,
unnoticed by the dark men with dogs.
Flailed grain for a bed, headlights for lamplight,
whatever I wanted, I stole, the moment
a cashier rings up a purchase the perfect
time to palm and pocket. Overhead the sky
weighed a trillion tons, deformed topographical
maps into letterforms. How exactly does milk
of magnesium taste? Ive never had it
so good as when I confused a cactus
for a circus and joined acrobats in dismount
even though, it was pointed out to me later,
I remained on the parquet. Hardly!
Im no cantaloupe shuddering in stalls,
brain-skinned, shipped by multinationals.
Ive never wanted for a cul-de-sac or a man-o-war.
Had I loaves for feet Id eat myself.
Ravi Shankar teaches at Central Connecticut
State University, Fairfield University & City University
of Hong Kong. He founded Drunken Boat, has won a Pushchart,
been featured in the New York Times, appeared on BBC
& NPR, & has written or edited seven books and chapbooks
of poems, including the 2010 National Poetry Review Prize winner,
Deepening Groove. Along with Tina Chang and Nathalie
Handal, he edited Language for a New Century: Contemporary
Poetry from Asia, the Middle East & Beyond (W.W. Norton
& Co.) which anthologizes poets from 61 countries, writing
in over 40 different languages.
Drunken Boat: http://www.drunkenboat.com
Deepening Groove: http://www.amazon.com/Deepening-Groove-Ravi-Shankar/dp/1935716085
Language for a New Century: http://books.wwnorton.com/books/detail.aspx?id=8428
"Deepening Groove," winner of the 2010 National Poetry
Review Press Prize: http://www.amazon.com/Deepening-Groove-Ravi-Shankar/dp/1935716085
@empurpler & @drunkenboat on Twitter
Check out Drunken Boat #13: http://www.drunkenboat.com,
with features on /Slant/Sex/, First Peoples, Plural. Plus poetry
by Toma alamun, a multimedia folio of nonfiction
on Music with original works by essayists including Rick Moody,
Lia Purpura & Tim Seibles, new fiction by Adania Shibli,
and the latest photography, sound, and installation art. Celebrating
over a decade in existence.
Circus: Oil Paint on Canvas, 1950" first appeared in Ambit,
and "Hitchhiker" first appeared in Third Coast.