Moon Light | Edvard Munch

House of India

These are sections from a longish prose poem titled “House of India,” a meditation on an Indian restaurant, one of its waitresses, and one of its regulars. Regarding the human condition, the writing explores how cultures (and individuals) get dressed up in the fantasies of those they depend on for survival.

House of India #19

Attraction is to horse as intimacy is to finish line. Silence waits for rain. I was wondering if we might share a word or two. Liturgy. Transition.

I do not think I belong at the House of India this late. Stew has been ladled. Lights have been dimmed. The music has deepened, embracing rhythms and melodies new to me but older than time.

Intimacy is to finish line as disappointment is to cab ride. My bones are ready for glue, for stew. My dreams have been torn in half. They litter the floor.

To this evening, I submit. May it wash away these little cries for attention, these little meaningless defeats. It is later than I thought it was. Bugs fly toward the moon.

House of India #41

The waitress – any waitress – can bring the original human condition back to its pristine state. Tremors love her foot. They cover the ground like wild violets. It is as if I have never misplaced my silver coin, as if I have never faced Armageddon with hands against my eyes.

She loses herself in footsteps. As I told you before, she is loved for some of the worst reasons: She is a tyrant, a sorceress, a spidery presence. She disappears. She awards our patience and faith with cubes of meat.

We move from dream world to blackout and back. Peek-a-boo. Her hand is a pirate’s misfortune. Her hand is a window.

She detects a forgotten greatness, a forgotten calm, and rides its wave. For dessert, she brings cashews drizzled with honey, atop a rice pudding. She takes the bottle from a drunk who leaves a patch, what she refers to as a “scorpion patch,” instead of a silver coin as a gratuity. 

House of India #62

Poetry is indifferent to that which it replaces. A walk across the floor which seems to be made of a single gliding step. A series of openings that reveal eyes and jumpstart consciousness. A white rectangle. The paperweight is indifferent.

It comes to a boil. There is no cup to weigh the saucer down. No uncle to tell father’s secrets. No hat to contain wild notions. The world is topless with worries and tears.

The young people swap shirts slowly. This is an experiment. I can hold a very small part of your belly gently enough; I can refrain from pinching. They play a game called Kill the King.

The song will soon bloom, and this slop will be processed into filler for ground meat. The sponge is moist. The expected texture gets delivered, the expected mouth-feel. The kiss is never expected; that which it pulls from the dark replaces our monstrous wish. 

Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters. He has three current books of poems: Invisible Histories, The New Vaudeville, and Midsummer. His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Conduit, and The Cream City Review.

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