Reflections of a Cartographer
November 5, 2016
Through the thick magnifying glass—
Veins in my honed eye
Streams of red—the contour
Lines are taut webs, gradients
Coalesce from blue to green,
To the burnt sienna of dry blood,
To spurs concaved and drowned,
To bludgeoned, pocked scarps,
To another fresh mound
On the ground and a single flower.
Each year the lens thickens,
The fragments fragmenting, bloodier-edged.
Frontiers push, relent and ignite
In pogroms of programmed fire.
It’s boom days as much for me
As for the mercenary, the guinea pig
Pushbutton weaponry, arrayed magazines,
Rapt monitors—all systems interlocking—;
It’s boom days for the General who decreed:
‘Moonlit nights are best for bombing’.
Through the magnifying glass
My compass points stab the earth
Of this map I’ve traced and retraced.
All territories are shaped like shrapnel
As nations rewrite themselves
With torn nerve-ends.
Some day the meridians will totter
To permanent moonless night, the stench
Of tigerpiss gas the hemispheres.
Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled / New York Times
Manohar Shetty has published seven books of poems, including Domestic Creatures and Living Room. He has lived in Goa since 1985. You can read more of his work here.
This poem is the fourth in ICF's unfolding Citizens against War series of literature and art, initiated in the spirit of listening: to our poets, artists, fellow citizens, against war and warmongering, and the hatred contrived by our "leaders" day after day.
Text © Manohar Shetty; image © estate of Nasreen Mohamedi
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