The Great Nothing

The Indian in me spares no expense with words

every sentence decked in red and gold

every phrase clanging like the silver bells

tied around the necks of cows tethered to stakes

The Indian in me is the master of flamboyance

every stanza bursting with metaphors like 

samosas crammed with potatoes and green peas

yet the Indian in me is hollow, and when i search

for meaning beneath rows of red masala packets 

and bundles of empty splendor, i find Nothing. 

 

The American in me uses not but seizes words 

every phrase in gleaming shackles as though

they were stolen from another.

The American in me clenches the metaphor

until it shatters, and grasps the allegory

so hard it loses shape

the ravenous American in me imprisons all words

and in the end, finds Nothing. 

 

And so in my entirety, i present the Great Nothing

the product of crumpled wads of paper

of broken poems and meaningless verses

so painfully painless, so perfectly empty 

both the Indian and the American in me 

have been gorging on Nothing for years 

and yet the human in me 

still starves 

Kanchan Naik

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