Question & Answer 2 – Siddhartha Bose

Question 2

Nobody feels the urge to spill
the coffee
and break tradition by urging
movement
to the right, and screaming ‘it’ll
rain tomorrow
if a panda eats the stars tonight.’

This is Thursday for me, Sid,
this is how
I function for the next 166
hours. I
record my provenance, move
forward
on a horizontal axis, bring the

strata to the surface and shatter
it. 17
micrometres or smaller so I can
realign both
poles and regain equilibrium, bit
by bit, every
7 days. Until I can speak again

and tell the world that pandas
don’t eat
stars, they eat shoots and leaves,
and given
half a chance I’d dance tonight for rain
tomorrow,
because we need something to talk

about. Because conversation
feeds us.
Because I feel I don’t just need to
open up,
but I need to rip the pages out
and glorify
tipex. Do you know what I mean,

Sid?

– Aaron Kent

Answer 2

Pandas eating shoots, ripping pages apart,
humans playing with smearing shit all over their
baby bodies, the stink of it,
(the wing of it, empty plastic bottles all
‘round, scrap paper scribbles,
rabied stray dogs with x-ray visions,
the trash-heap of it all
on a potholed road and
there in fore-shot
a pink-massive teddy-bear toy,
tuk-tuk large,
grinning, and behind,
flea-bitten kids staring back,
scheming and hustling,
not an ounce of porn-misery,
only attitude and impatience,
and there a
family hut of rotting bamboo,
blue tarpaulin, and stove fire,
belching black into the city’s rabid air), yes the
smell and sight of it
wounds with scalpel,
needles, jagged bottles.

SV Road traffic junction
(Bombay), a boy spies me from a distance,
runs across the broad artery leaking
virus cars and luxury,
fixing me with a needle in his eye,
(my eyes, sweating conjunctivitis and stray
spots of blood, stray like the wild
dogs of the city, howling the evening
into patterns of jigsaw flesh)
and now, yes, he’s in
front, he wears a skullcap
(no beard, no namaz, no underworld
gunfire) and a
perverted smile, and he
lifts his tattered shirt, and
shows me his upper torso,
skin like a burnt lizard,
peeling burnt flakes of skin,
moon-craters of skin,
memory of acid that
stings and rots
flesh and skin,
and yes, that’s what he is,
sweating, rotting meat with a hustler smile for
fee-paying, well-meaning tourists,
commanding small change.

I think of him, that midget of a boy, and I think of another man,
begging in Hackney, the sliced veins of his arms
bleeding at me, as he says, ‘change, guvna? No? Have a good evening…’
and this is real, I tell myself, not an update, or a
like, or a share of images of bombed out
warzones where we’ve
outsourced our suffering and outrage,
yes, I say, this isn’t a meme of a meme of a meme,
as I walk ’round his
stare, avoiding his screwball eyes.

When others rip apart the
flesh of the city, the text of it,
scavenge it, picking bones and trash,
who am
I to
speak, when I can only be a

witness to the ripping?

– Siddhartha Bose

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