Poetry at Sangam




Young girl, child hidden inside pram. Whimpers
sound through silence, shredding clucks to screaming,
“JUST SHUT UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP”; baby shrieks
louder. I’m up, to grab my printout, purse
in hand. See man in voluminous black reach
out, but not fast enough. The security guard
takes my open backpack, files spilling out,
Mac yawning, still half closed. Guard glares Fuckwit
look, says “Things disappear here.” Behind,
two men trade Spanglish fighting words, gestures.
I lean against the wall to zip my bags
when a teen slides smoothly in my seat
and turns the screen as if I’m invisible.

In cities buzzing foreign tongues — where words
repose in fogs of sound, the pronouns merging
into nouns and verbs indistinct — it takes
the ear three months to parse phonemes. But here,
in Chicago, reined-in violence translates
to fiery noise, devoid of the syntax
of civility. A rage, unquiet, paces
dark shelves of accumulated wisdom,
like wolves — slavering, lean, uninvited —
outside the reaches of feast and light.