Issue 12 · 2009



Days Dreams, A Reprise


  by Gautam Verma





separated by the thickness of a dream

furtive and fertile like the weather measured

by 315 crosswords printed on the backs

of discarded poems



in the dream state a profound

unrelationality (you occupy the border

absent/present at the site of your encounters)

crosswords belie by cutting both ways



one never knows what one will need till one has need of it

it would seem meticulously prepared the bag with books

4 books of poetry 2 novels (one slight one substantial)

1 book of biographia to excoriate 1 book to translate missing

E.B.’s Literary Essays what can I do? call L. have her

scan some pages email them to me worlds within reach

exorcism of needs



at the airport I turned round repeatedly to look for you

and you were there and you were there and you were




from the airplane the city a circuit board circulatory

system arteries ablaze (bright burning headlamps of cars)




outside the airport the cabbie with the toothless smile

lends me his phone to call mine who are late he would

like to change some euro coins for rupees I haven’t any

so then he would like to add to his collection my fingers

fumble in my pocket draw up by the laws of likelihood

the largest so it is his I am blessed a profound unreality



what has to do with not being able to inhabit the moment

you are in?



but lying in bed this morning on the near surface

of sleep the car horns the people the blares the beeps

whistles accelerating motors tire squeals all that is

indubitably unmistakably real



but everyone says it seems like yesterday

I was here






we move from need to necessity to what can be

found S.R.’s Shalimar the Clown I begin




by dint of this distance I begin to see you again

in your absence as by your proximity you were

blurred and blunt and buttressed what Modigliani knew

when he neglected to paint the eyes of his subjects

and look at them unimpeded


rediscovering the adjective words most

like words themselves




the world is a fact the earth

a mystery


any world that in its world making would

destroy the earth that sustain it

be a limit condition point of its own



but an argument between earth and world

cannot come down wholly on the side of earth

for existence may mean nothing other

than the making and unmaking of worlds


world contained informed

by its procedures what words

of resistance would you write

and rewrite the sentence

still chained to its syntax?



(from Arguments between Earth and World)







the inwardness of gaze or eyes

directed at events “off-stage”

or looks crisscrossing into and

out of the frame


what the camera “steals” or



privilege the privacy

of external space in dappled

sunlight in a garden a

certain dis-interestedness

on the part of women

gathered there in baroque

Indian dress is the power

they wield over their own



color came to the photograph

transforming the everlasting

into the transitory the mythic

into the mundane



(after the Raghu Rai retrospective)











that the wrong thing be done for the right reasons

or the right thing provide the worst possible end

for all involved and we still be able to maintain

categories of right and wrong seems to suggest

(one would have to read Kant on this et al) an ethical

understanding precedes our rationalization of it


that there is a certain dis-simulation practiced

and performed as rhetoric (rhetoric itself a form

of dissimulation) mobilized circulates about

an absent center in service of our satisfactions



(after the film Gone Baby Gone)








Itinerary: leave 8th night arrive PP 9th morning all day in city

               10th visit genocide museum killing fields

               11th early boat to SR visit Angkor Wat

               12th 13th all day with the temples

               14th leave SR arrive Bombay late evening








Things to Read / See: Adorno, Minima Moralia

                                 Eileen Chang / Yukio Mishima

                                 Ingeborg Bachmann, Selected Poems, Malina

                                 Samira Makmalbah, At 5 o’clock in
                                   the afternoon

                                 Ang Lee, Lust Caution









and then there is this other thing of which we have not spoken

(gestures in the direction of metafiction or “the whites are coming”

encroachment entitlement exploitation or over and again the

victim who asks to be forgiven) writing itself as an act of violence

usurpation of its subject estrangement and destabilization othering

akin to murder



(after I.B.’s Ways of Dying series)















or that our indignation be cut from the same moral cloth that

drapes the perpetrators of outrage so B.N. would remind us








Earlier I never paid attention to dreams, nor did they amount to much, usually hazy and full of wandering and sometimes colorful, but now, how menacing, because it doesn’t seem strange, it’s part of me and I have come to inhabit my own dreams.  The puzzle of my days is more important than the puzzle of my dreams, for you should understand that there’s no dream puzzle, but rather the puzzle itself, the puzzle of days, the undetectable chaos of reality that tries to articulate itself in a dream . . .


                                             I.B. from “The Book of Franza”









Gautam Verma’s first full-length volume, The Opacity of Frosted Glass, is forthcoming from Moria Books


E · Poetry Journal