two poems

by Jose Varghese

Eerie Experiences in His Ordinary Life

In the car that’s an oven, he’s transformed into
a banana cake that spins on endlessly in order
to get baked evenly. He turns the air-conditioner
on, worried about the ever-rising petrol prices.

In a conference where they supply handouts on
poverty in the country, and on beautifying the city
by getting rid of the ugly shacks of immigrants or
beggars for the visit of another country’s President,

he’s cut into neat slices. In a room for a crucial
interview where merit matters the most, but none
gets the coveted job unless they pay a matching
bribe, he’s bitten, chewed, and washed down the

never-ending esophagi of vampire-bosses, with
filter coffee, Ceylon tea, mineral water, or blood.


Of Basketballs

I was nine.
You snatched my eyes
away from the regular sights
of a family union
and fixed them
to the tip of your index finger
on which a basketball
spun nonstop.

You were the topic
of their discussion
in the portico.
We didn’t know then,
that you would die
in a year, before your
twenty-sixth birthday.
Would they have been
kinder, if they knew?
Would you have cared
more, if you knew!

Our fathers talked about us,
their children, like
middle-aged brothers would.
They seemed worried about
your failure at studies,
though you fared enviably
well in sports; even playing
games at the state level.
I was saved, but for some
vague references
to an annoying kind
of stubbornness that
didn’t suit a boy my age.

I didn’t know then,
that I would inherit
the ‘Essays of Francis Bacon’
that lay on your desk,
next to a pile of cassettes
of Western Rock/Pop music
that were new to me.

You didn’t know then,
that after your death,
your father would
live on, a little more
than your entire lifetime,
his frail body dragging along
your memories, the kind
that defy dementia.

You winked at me,
and tried to train me
in the art of spinning
a basketball on the tip
of an index finger.

And each time the ball
slid down my unsure finger,
you would tease me,
“Loosen up man.
Don’t think it’s the world
you spin on your finger.
It’s just a ball, after all.”

Jose Varghese is the author of Silver Painted Gandhi and Other Poems and his short story manuscript In/Sane was a finalist in the 2018 Beverly International Prize. His second collection of poems is scheduled for publication in 2022 by Black Spring Press Group, UK. He was a finalist twice in the London Independent Story Prize (LISP), a runner up in the Salt Prize, and was commended in the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. His works are published or forthcoming in Litro, Under the Radar Magazine (Nine Arches Press), Joao Roque Literary Journal, Burningwords Literary Journal, SPLASH! (Haunted Waters Press), Wild Roof Journal, The Bookends Review, The Closed Eye Open, Sunspot Literary Journal,  The Showbear Family Circus, Sad Girls Club, The Best Asian Short Story Anthology (2019 and 2021), The Best Asian Poetry Anthology (2021), Lunchbreak Zine, Cathexis Northwest Press, Khabar, Live Encounters, Dreich, Meridian – The APWT Drunken Boat Anthology of New Writing, Kavya Bharati, Bengaluru Review, Muse India, Re-Markings, Unthology 5, Unveiled, Reflex Fiction, Retreat West, Flash Fiction Magazine, Chandrabhaga, and Postcolonial Text.


Photography by: Victor Grabarczy