Satya Dash


lurching from eating to sleeping and back                               to make wings
      of iconic orange                                      to the monarch’s antennae its short 
life span still hot and momentous                       the monarch doesn’t dream 
      of greatness                                   but aspires towards seasoned equilibrium

of the tight-rope-walker                                                   with no trampoline 
      below                                 for an audience: teeth chattering on a ring of fire 
the girdle                                                     that renders the hip’s blasphemy 
      holy                                     I discovered the heat of this alchemy when I fell 

asleep in your lap                                     I discovered having swallowed fire 
      I couldn’t dissipate the elements at will                      a gastric phenomenon 
hormones regaling a fiery bath with refrain       even the monarch swallows 
      hurt to grow                   in nano-bladders milkweed toxins harnessing scent

of poisons to warn off predators           the blackbird that eats butterfly wings
      falls sick                      did I tell you I have gamma ions running in my veins
the doctors told me—                    I never recovered from your nuclear diet
      now the state waits for vaporized urine                 to rain back & skin hangs

on bone like shirts on a summer clothesline                          believe it or not
      the apocalypse isn’t this but yet to come       & my story is still being written
on the penultimate page                                       of the lepidopterist’s thesis
      while on the final page already inked                        are both our obituaries

Midnight Train

Carousel spin         of electron pollen         sticking 
              to corners          of a serpentine quadrilateral          formed

                      by the opportune displacement                   of dewy bodies
                            by waves          of post colonial gales               turning

                                the sulfur-pounded sky tidal          with a tapestry 
                                 redolent of intricate designs                   inscribed

                            on the archaic walls          of the imambara I visited
                        to spend an afternoon          gurgling        in my warm

                   idiot throat          the heat of another afternoon we spent here
            your resting head          making of my black denim lap        a bloom
of night tulip blood          names of birds shimmering
              on your zinc forehead          the layers of occasional gold

                      summery refractions glint      my skin rustling beneath fabric :
                              a chiffon doused          in the fragrance of your

                              effervescent shampoo :      packaged and labeled in batches 
                             at a laboratory             that spent years       perfecting 

                        its precise chemistry             to guarantee such wild parades
                     of the wily olfactory         crystal hooves jutting sharp

                pressing mark          into        thick calluses      
         of time          who knew
nails could relieve



From the Author: Some of my latest work orbits the inundation of unease and doom we as a species continue bringing upon ourselves. As a poetic mode of thinking, I’ve been invested in the intersection of human desire with nature, in attempting confluences of myth, memory and image, hoping to uncover any resonances and dissonances in the process. Both of these poems attempt a strategy of links of consciousness as a way to connect ecological impulses in our interior and exterior worlds already past the brink of irreversible climate change. Both try doing it with a fragmented lyric to accentuate the precariousness on this precipice. 

Satya Dash is the recipient of the 2020 Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize and a finalist for the 2020 Broken River Prize. His poems appear in Poet Lore, ANMLY, Waxwing, Rhino Poetry, Cincinnati Review, and Diagram, among others. Apart from having a degree in electronics from BITS Pilani-Goa, he has been a cricket commentator. He has been nominated previously for Pushcart, Best of the Net, Orison Anthology and Best New Poets. He grew up in Cuttack and now lives in Bangalore, India. He tweets at: @satya043.