The Sound Speaks to its Radio

Your ear pressed against my torso
turns us into a cave. When the ear  

opens itself like the dark underbelly
of a birthing mother, the body turns  

into a radio, indebted to speak. Silence
becomes the longing for speech. But you

say: body, don’t speak. I have nowhere
to go.
Unlike the good soul, enroute to  

heaven, the bad soul blanketing a dark
attic with fear or the soul of an extinguished 

lamp fulfilling a philosophical death. Body,
I do not wish to drip from you as a droplet

from the sea, a ray from the crescent, a
theta wave specimen at the scientist’s,

pinned to table and patted on its curves.
If you do not let go, I shall be the seed 

with the promise of fruit, the bird perching
on your branch with the promise of song,

another star decorating your night sky.
I shall be the word withheld with the  

promise of a poem, a tune unsung with
the promise of a rain's soul. Let’s grow  

into each other like the near deaf ear of
my grandpa welded into his transistor:

 the mutual spill of their sound insulated
with tapes of silence for an eavesdropping

 world. And if you let go, if you speak, I
shall stray into the urban wilderness to  

relive the parable of the lost lamb, sold to
noise or traded for an advertisement, a  

dancing clown drowning in the street
restaurant bagatelle until you arrive as the 

shepherd of hundred, caring for his weakest.
Speech, the most certain of deaths.

Laymen Gaming

Train nap is a card tower building exercise that
demands expertise. Veterans will tell you, it's
climbing a shaking tree and steering a ship in
tempest at the same time. The body will sway
helplessly, gasp for breath with open mouth.
Don't let go of the floating plank, a branch
with weaver ant nests. Soon, lights switch off,
screen rolls down. Rajnikanth* agrees to play
a game of basketball. Score: 100-0, of course in
your favour. The dusty landline in the attic rings.
It’s Putin, to offer a job in the revamped KGB.
The lady who walked past to the next bogie,
comes back for you. Tea, Samosa, Biriyani —
background noises to be edited out, creeps in.
The lights switch on again. Screen rolls up,
fellow dream-workers alight in a nondescript
station. It seems, laymen in passenger trains
are destined to limited game progress.



Rajnikanth is one of the most popular Indian movie stars.
Vladimir Putin.
Popular Indian food.

Aditya Shankar is an Indian poet, flash fiction author, and translator. His work has appeared in literary journals of repute and nominated for literary awards, including Best of the Net. Books: After Seeing (2006), Party Poopers (2014), XXL (Dhauli Books, 2018). He lives in Bangalore, India. 

Instagram: adityan.s
Twitter: @suncave