E·ratio 11 · 2008



E·ratio 11 · 2008




Bombay Diary


  by Gautam Verma





First Morning


everything wilting in the humidity: hair, towels,       toast, newspapers

headlines today a mix of glibness, hysteria,
     home-spun philosophy

doing the Sunday crossword have to look up the      word apostasy

apo: of, with, from? what does rootstock mean      exactly —

an absolute erosion of my karma (a 100 years of      misery!)

killing flies at the rate of six an hour



“your pleas today will be met again by the overwhelming refusal to see





2nd Night


book covers curled in the humidity

wood-swell and the door stuck in the door jamb

and a long discourse on resemblance and dreams
     (& on silly Foucault)

with the resident rat confined both

to the balcony



“the dreamer and the dreamed overlapped

so completely in whose dream did the terror

begin and who was it sigilated to the sheets





4th Morning


flash showers a cascade

of horns a man selling

mosambis on the island

below marooned this

past hour on the first

letter of the alphabet



“you cannot dream your dream and face it

too Orpheus descent would seem to relate





6th Afternoon


while pruning branches of the banyan tree the man fell and broke his leg he got drunk with money he received and sits with his back to the compound wall berated by women in his family their shrill voices carry up into the balcony





7th Afternoon


reading Foucault on Magritte: formidable stones


spell the airiness of dreams


in the caligramatic double:


annulled and annealed





12th Evening


benediction of pigeon droppings

palm green fern green in violet

evening light an oaken staircase

risen into shadows guttered like

a candle looking down the long

chute of memory past the cricket

net’s metal grating as in a dream

the uncanny means your being

there is nowhere to be seen



“in the shrouded hour a turning

thing unfolding there the abiding

blindness at its back





13th Morning


reading B.E.’s Altman’s Tongue I describe (to myself) alternately as a “theatre of cruelty” or the “will to death” I have to look up the word anamnesis recalling it as I rise but wanting then to confirm that recollection





14th Night


a man with a blind person’s cane shuffles in front of the car — will you be giving me a lift he asks — where to — Bhudwar park — I’m sorry I say I don’t know where that is — and drive away what does or does not constitute today an adequate response to the world





16th Morning (save a thought for Farnesiana tredici)


builders are keen

to bulldoze it tenants

huddle in their tenements


far away and out of

reach I scheme in my

sleep a way to save

the unsuspecting plants

their cellar-dank dreams





20th Night


whatever there is in the light

that draws the moth the moth

may not have it it throws

itself against the glass its

dizzy and demented flight





23rd Morning


reflected bird flight

in the window behind

(vector, laser, light) cuts

through space as though

flown out of your eye





28th Afternoon


spelunking lost the word last night and fou

nd it again in the crossword this morning






Gautam Verma lives and works in Piacenza, Italy, where he has been since completing graduate work at the University of Denver.  His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Free Verse, 26, BlazeVox, Big Bridge, Word For/Word, Drunken Boat, Diagram and Moria.  His chapbooks include Tombs and In Ladakh from Shearsman and Soundings, an e-chap, from BlazeVox.

E · Poetry Journal