Surveillance: 3

By | 1 October 2020


Listen, why do you think the armed constabulary
shot all the able bodied men that evening in ‘eighty seven?

A – Because the constabulary had guns

B – Because water sources have always needed blood
sacrifice of the young, they were rounded up and shot near the canal
although washing blood out of a canal is impossible

C – Because they had a truck
(and blood is a non sequitur)


Listen carefully now

They’ll call it Reinforcement of Internal Security
Or Control of Anti-National Activity
Or, more neatly, Procedure

Procedure will ring the doorbell eleven times
between three and four in the morning
yanking you out of a deep sleep dream in which an ex
wears mascara and wanders unbathed into a nice hotel

Procedure will riffle through cupboards
ask you to empty out drawers and make precise lists
of contents: your grandmother’s watch,
cultured rice pearls, plans
for a house not yet built

Procedure will politely ask the cab driver to pull over
on the expressway, flashing mysterious
IDs, requesting you to come answer a few questions
without specifying where

Procedure will concern itself with proof:
papers you can furnish, phone lists to establish
whether you have journalist artist professor
friends who might make a noise if you disappeared
or were found to have confessed to something
via methods popular in the eleventh century CE

Procedure will stand guard
as fire snakes through your township
documenting what becomes of solar rooftop panels,
underground sewage tanks and compost pits
under high heat circumstances before updating
the procedural manual

Listen to me:
Do not allow
an anxious fingertip to check how thick
the dust on your great-grandfather’s rifle
lying in safe deposit

Return to the newspaper
and tomato-cucumber breakfasts
Turn to the comics page
Read your horoscope
Listen for it:

When it begins, you must not insist
on calling Procedure to its face

Gather up the children likeliest
to die under the biggest tree
and surrender to them
the a-b-c’s of your language

At noon, take the littlest ones
into your lap and chant
a rhyme about the kid
who ate almonds and walnuts
and drank soda water

Conduct frog leap races
potato-spoon races
thread-the-needle races
sack races
cartwheel races

Take those of your people
who do not yet understand
to the cinema

Those who refuse to eat
outside food,
buy them cakes

Juice the air for laughs

Hold your arms wide and squeeze
the breath out of their gnawed hearts


Grow old overnight

Toss salty head from left shoulder to right
and run to empty swings in a park you watched
grow emptier

Listen for it:
Procedure (war)

Now, loud, call it:


The town is a black hole

Dangling in neat rows
fairy lights in
glass front store

Inside hang some more
in rude bunches of
white military formation

These lights are your tunnel
At the end of it
you may go blind

Orange green peacock blue
mosaic shells clasp
trees in spider embrace
sucking out of your eyes
the handful of soil you were saving up
for your own grave

you, who have been fed your own flesh
you cannot tell pain from victual

Too long you sat through meals
where the blood of your brother
set lips smacking
Too long you pursed your mouth to suck
at the wound in the infinite body
of the republic

Eyed by the watchful
you stoked fire

You hurried past your kul devi
and devta, giving them sweets
and yellow thread
never the heart’s blood
that is due to the gods

It is not too late
Unglue lips from the wound
and say,
I do not drink

Stop sticking that knife into
God’s underarm
Say, my brother is my brother
not my meal

Say, my brothers fill the hole
in my being

Say, forgive me
I did not know

* * *

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