Three poems by Vasantha Surya

A Quick Fix 

Hang my picture on your wall.

That’s all you have to do.

I’ll do the rest.

I know what’s best

for you.

This misery you’re going through

Feel free to pass on

to me.

I’m not like you.

I’m wise. I’m strong.

  

I’ll rid you of all your furies,

Your torments, your guilty memories.

Make over to me your brain’s keys

Along with the usual small change

At today’s rate of Faustian exchange.

 

Hang my picture on your wall!

Have no doubt

I’ll pest-control your mind, and fumigate

its every cubbyhole and shelf.

Take this opportunity

to opt out

of all responsibility.

Don’t hesitate.

I guarantee to find, and eliminate

Your fleeing, feeling self.

 

Keynote Address 

Science here is dead,

he said.

We are here to find out

why. But there’s no doubt

that science here is dead,

he said.

 

We don’t seem to know just how to get ahead,

he said.

Though for craft and magic we earn praise,

in our climate commonsense decays.

Neither of our seasons is right for reason.

One withers sense, the other breeds decadence.

At this rate we’ll never get to outer space.

Figures show we’re not even in the race.

No one takes us seriously abroad.

Our best is mediocre, our worst a fraud.

 

Science here is dead,

he said.

Yet I’m proud to say

we have the expertise today

to analyse

to organize

to perform our own post-mortems,

pickle, label, shelve our problems.

We are foreign-qualified.

We know how myths are magnified.

 

First we’ll choose which blade to use –

sickle, laser, razor’s edge –

select techniques appropriate

(depending on whose grant we get).

 

Make a notch at the chin.

Slit down to the crotch.

Bore a hole in the skull.

Go right down to the soul.

 

Group one will probe the rot

the cancer at the throat of thought

the many-tumoured logic knot

which smothers faith and throttles doubt

but keeps us dreaming all the same

in and out and roundabout,

tethered,

tame.

 

Group two will isolate

the toxin in the cells of state

which made the blood coagulate.

 

Group three will extricate

what’s loosely translated as fate,

a ball and chain

within the brain

which, even when it’s rusted through,

retains a certain antique value.

 

Group four will undertake to find

old questions buried below the face

on time and space

on thought and mind

trampled in the ceaseless ooze

of answers, under the hooves

of dreams driven along a whirling road

with promise of release a goad.

 

No wonder science is dead,

he said.

Sickly mother, stillborn child.

It’s shocking that she’s still fertile!

We knew the outcome long ago.

Last year we met in Mexico,

the previous year in Rome.

Now we’re home.

The food I find quite excellent.

I carry my own mosquito repellent.

 

We meet again after lunch.

Be ready with your explanation suggestion strategy plan

excuse.

I have a hunch

none will be of any use,

he said. For

 

science here is dead,

science here is dead,

science here is dead,

he said.

  

Angle of Ascent

When did this train of thought

take wing?

Watching the shadows of wheeled hours,

hearing them  hurtling down habit’s grooves,

I missed the moment of leave-taking,

the garlanded farewell,

the angle of ascent.

 

Flights of parrots sweep with green

the threshold of the day, preparing it for the sun’s

fresh design.

Riding in his chariot, I have left

all time-tables and maps

behind.

 

Below, the landscape falls at last

into obedient shapes.

Rivers assume a manageable size, and roads

are seen to reach their destinations.

The horizon respectfully

withdraws.

 

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