Ashish Kumar


This bird could never be a symbol for anything.
Its whole body recoils constantly into plain fact.
If it is dead it is death; if alive, it is life, and

In between there is practically nothing.
Its song is not aware of itself, in fact
It is not even aware; its eye pushes out

At the world with an image of the world,
Sees only the black crow secreted in the wires.
If I could, I’d let this bird draw a parenthesis

Around my shuttling days: this is how my body
Casts shadows, how my dinosaur feet clutch
At grass, how my brain glints with murder

Or joy – nothing outside what this one bird,
Glaring from the furious pavement, might
Pick up, carry away, swallow.



The soldier will not say where he is from.
We shot the dogs that came to take him,

From where we were, two storeys up. As we
Dragged him in he said: I have a dog.

Now we shake our heads. We patch the femoral,
Biting our teeth, expecting gratitude. Instead he cries.

His left sleeve is caked with blood. We ask
Him what his cause is, what home he dreams

Of which warrants this excess. He shakes
His head. We ask him if he has a God,

And he trembles, as if the whole universe
Of causes is no longer enough.

In the morning we pass him biscuits, coffee,
Cereal bars deformed by body heat.

As he leaves we tell him that’s the wrong direction,
He won’t find any friends. He goes anyway.

We watch each other from then on, saying nothing,
Wondering how we will follow.

Ashish recently finished reading law at Cambridge and is currently spending a pre-work gap year in Bangkok, working for UNESCO. He writes a lot in his free time, primarily for himself.