Warm light filters through the window, killing the perfect night. The gravity of bed still holds - as eyelids deny sight. And life's order would wrench me out from under the cover, but for the allure and the bliss of my love, and lover. Why must the sun be on the march? Why must we heed its place, and surrender that entwinement - chest pillow against face?
Relentless sound, relentlessly pounds —
throbbing throughout the town.
They crank the volume up so loud;
I turn it right back down.
But songs sung in quiet, they grind
on the sour side of mind.
Some lump of cells tries hard to find
the sound below the line.
And when the sound yields to silence,
my brain asks where it went,
and how I sit astride the fence
about rowdy or silent?
This collection of 34 poems by Vijay Seshadri won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The book includes free verse poetry, lyric poetry, and prose poems. There are poems that reflect Seshadri’s Indian heritage, such as “Three Urdu Poems,” but like Seshadri himself – who moved from Bangalore to America at age five – the preponderance of poems reflect an American experience. Most of the poems are a single page each or less, but the prose poems at the end, such as “Pacific Fishes of Canada,” cover about a dozen pages.
The human and human society, as opposed to nature, takes center stage Seshadri’s work. Dystopian notions that have crept to the fore in the popular conscious are seen in poems such as “Secret Police.” However, this may be more indicative of a look back to the Cold War, which features prominently in the aforementioned nostalgic prose poem “Pacific Fishes of Canada.” The philosophical meditation also plays prominently in this work.
I enjoyed this little sixty-seven page collection, and found it to be evocative and thought-provoking.