• Reflections of a Cartographer

    Manohar Shetty

    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.


    8-untitled-1960sNasreen 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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