The Imposter Syndrome

The Equation of Desire. Martin Soto Climent. Mousse Publishing.

He would always sit ahead of us

In his citric orange T-shirt


Against the abandoned air-conditioned classrooms

Made by the Japanese and

Maintained by the miniature birds,

Who often get trapped in lecture-hall limbos.


I cannot write him

He’s a plant that does not germinate

Into wishful thinking

Of infatuated hearts, struck by poverty

Of lack.

A lack that begins to define you,

Your illegitimate parent.


But here’s a trick, 

Chance a find

you have to look.

Glance upon his quivery brow


the rickety case of criss-crossed legs

That dares to announce

—If just for a second—

The same lack as you

And your

Out-of-the-league desires. 

Set of words 

Let me read you
 the opposite of poetry.

I pull out a letter knife 
And toy with red-lettered words
Till I no longer have a thirst for the apple juice
Or the Antarctic sky.

Whatever comes up
The blood or blues
I gulp it down with white wine
Until my feet are cold, enough for sleep,
I dream 

And then I weep in poetry. 

Family and friends

The heels sound different in the afternoon. Upon the road that looks like old skin, or the pattern that shows up when she closes her eyes in the night. The sound is not absorbed by anyone. The crowd eats noises until everything is blown-up-white screen. She does not like that.

So is she walking in the naked sun to hear the cluck of her heels? Yes and no.

He was hungry. He had to be fed.

She could have gone in the morning, however. They expect her to wake up in the morning. But afternoon is better. Not just because of absence of crowds but something else.

Oh don’t look at me—I’m not your omniscient narrator. I do not know everything. Sorry for giving out the mysterious-girl protagonist vibe. Well in any case, for you, I do know some things and I do know that she likes the sound of her heels in the afternoon sun. So she chooses the days and does it when she knows the power will go out (I would hire her as my secretary—that good of a planner). But she sees the pattern and it is not hard for her to guess that men in municipal divisions have light bulbs for lunch.

She walks near the pavement; it is elevated till her knees. A lot of shops have their shutters down, they remind her of Japanese fans. I never thought they can look like the Japanese fans. Grace got some imagination. And she is walking so much faster now. She climbs up upon the pavement—better watch out those heels—and enters a dark stairway. Time runs like a sideway canal in here. The stairs look like the stairs they may have for bad people to stay, when they die before their time. A limbo. Damp—not the good damp. A decay. An itch in the walls as if painted with the blood of blown-up yellow bulbs that no one bothers to replace on time. Or at all.

She walks out and inhales so sharp, the woman in the plastic chair raises her eyebrows. Her sister looks at her with an equal concentration.

‘They very well feel like under the sea.’

To the affect, she does cough repetitively and hold on to her waist. But here, the word we are looking for is ‘intrusion’. Both of us. Grace senses it and grows extremely awkward about it. Tries her forced smile with touching-teeth. Their reaction does not change. It is as if they can’t speak.

They sit in an open balcony, like the ones they have in villages where the floor can absorb running water. The door behind them is open but everything inside is really dark. There is no shade over their heads. They sit out in loose floral trousers and their heads just looked too heavy on their heads. There is a newspaper in one of the sister’s hand to wave off the houseflies. Both of their faces look…intruded. But Grace is not here for faces. She has someone to feed. So she does what she always does.

She picks up a scorpion from under their chair. Then a beetle. Geotrupidae. And at last, a grasshopper.

Oh was I giving out the mysterious-girl protagonist again? Well I’ll tell you what, Grace is absolutely disgusted. So much that she screams a little. Then to cover that scream, she jumps to her heels and pretends to loosen her shoes, which she can’t because her hands are full. So she just bends with her palms outstretched as if begging an apology.

‘They must be biting her feet’ one sister explains the other, nodding.

And while she is almost squatting on her knees, she looks under the chair once again and thinks to herself the following line:

There is a snake under the chair. Is it a fucking rabbit hat?

What a line to say to someone, if she could. But the sisters will just laugh. That is, if they can. But Grace is scared out of her wits and I’m disgusted too. I’m disgusted at her capability to hold a scorpion, a beetle and a grasshopper without crushing them to death. But she has a husband to feed. And so it is now her duty.

So she fidgets around with them and stares at the sisters. It is as if she has forgotten what to do with them. For a millisecond, there appears the usual doubt. ‘What the fuck Grace’. But then she remembers to smile. She smiles and asks one of the sisters to drag out the plastic seal-up bag from her purse. The one they usually sell home-made candies in.

It is blue in colour. Somehow they all look more repelling to her in a plastic bag. But there is always empathy in her. Like she would think, would they be getting any oxygen? They clearly aren’t. They are running inside the bag like a PacMan game. How can she put this in her purse? Carry her upon her shoulders? Walk the road? They are all going to die inside her purse very soon.

But she does. She lightly slaps the plastic bag so they settle down and traces her steps back to her home.

She has to cook the lunch and he likes them fresh.


The yellow hut-shaped bungalow on the rolling hill. The road wore it like a crown. It looked like a dollhouse. There were waving woods behind it and a misty smell. Towards it left, there was a cluster of blue-sheet slum. They clustered near the streetlight. They made the ground dark. Muddy. As if the woman in the slum who sweeps at people’s houses, carries all their dust into her make-shift home. She has a broken hand but it is plastered. And if you go close, there are sketchpen marks on it.

Grace walks out of the front door but you never see her, it is as if she came from some curving corner. Popping right up on the road. She has a lot of work to do today but her memory and mind makes everything a traffic-accident wreck. Two cars—one way, and causalities. Sometimes more.

She walks near the streetlight into the opposite end, carrying an arm-length stuffed doll. You know the drill. Blonde woollen hair and polka dot skirt. But then she looks at the women with her broken arm and her little girl. She walks over to her and tries to talk to her, not sure if she is old enough to talk. But she surely can because she had sketched a



With a poorly shaped star, on her mother’s hand. The woman is wearing a green saree and a golden nose ring.

‘Do you go to school?’

The little girl does not say anything and Grace looks at her own hand in amazement, finding in them, the doll that she was carrying without a purpose. She hands over the doll to the girl as if finally, pushing in the last piece of the puzzle. Oh it makes sense, doesn’t it now forgetful Grace?

‘My mother’s sister told me to.’

Grace doesn’t understand a thing the child says. Her mother sways her in her arms and tells Grace that she is young and she only says what she feels like.

It is absurd to Grace. The child. The woman. The woman and the child. The relationship. The little girl cries now. Grace just smiles awkwardly. The woman sways her child some more, she has an indifferent air. She couldn’t care less about Grace. But she stands, airing the child. And Grace cannot understand it. The woman and the little girl. Poor forgetful Grace.

It is absurd, even more when Grace’s son climbs up the street to find her near the streetlight. He looks at her and laughs a theatrical laugh with flared nostrils. It is bizarrely loud. There is rage in his laughter. Bursting out of his forehead, out heavy on the shoulder of his friend where he had collapsed laughing. Grace smiles at him but does not know how to approach him anymore. But then there is her daughter. Like a placard, she appears too. Her face drips with the need. Her mouth stays open as if air could never reach inside it without doing that. But the look on her face is not surprise, it is need. She squats near the old beggar passing right by her mother as if she is no one. A subtle wind that passes by the hilltop, maybe. She is that. But Grace’s daughter barely remembers the color of the house she walks in every day, and here I am romanticising her in the wind. 

There is so much forgetfulness everywhere.

They make conversation. The beggar and the daughter. The old man’s voice is heavy with the sudden knowledge of how trade still dances upon his hand. She needs. She needs. He makes. He gives.

There are incredulous lines on the Grace’s forehead. She smiles some more. There is no one behind her eyes.





Northern Winds

Jakub Schikaneder’s Snow (Twilight in Winter) 1899


happened a soft autumn day

where I let my untamed foot fall

off the silk edge of my ordinary bed,

to let it fight with the tarnished wooden door

hunch-backed by a snoring inverter

when past the dust-coughing jail-skins,

there came a ruffle from the

dark of tall surmounting trees


nodding outside,

breathing on my ankles,

in all oddity of the oncoming winter.


Then I had dug under the culture’s paws

Asked them, of what of the Winter gloom—

That gentleman

So languid upon my prickling skin,

In me,

He had protected life.




There rests a diabolical caress

Of sandpaper bed-sheets

Till my feet are sore

From the coaling livers of the winter-verse.

Oh, to look for light switches in the dreadful dead-dark,

Paranoid chants that the curtains must not move—

All my sacred pathos intruded

Into the

Red demonstration of corpse-like darkness.


Do the old—as the Laker Poet once cried—must only lament what can no longer be felt?



In my heart, I invite

The night

I had shut down my famished words

Again, a prayer

To be fertilized with meaning, I ink

I conjure up my sprite:

In the hearth of a breathing cold

The tepid haunt of a sea nymph


Upon one changing breeze of the earth

Colluding with mist,

Into a body of unknown

That I uncloak, even though I am dressed

In great perspiration

I try

Once again

to reclaim the night.


Author Notes

I had an epiphany just now. I actually had a dream about different models of ceiling fans today–funny that I must write a poem dictated by the winds.

‘Something watches and stirs in the dark, it is alive.’

Monochrome Ariel

Mare Zebras in floral rain-coats 

flood past Sir Ladyfinger’s ship.
I had never seen so many stripes

Hunkering past the local skirt-shop.

And so my shoes garbled out few vowels to

The ocean-bed,

Hot with pregnancy

Of neither pink nor blue.
 In life

I chewed on sea-apples and grew up an Eve.

Started tying serpents on my neck for boardroom-meetings.

Lended my fingernails

 to a knight upon a sea-horse–

off to the colour-bind land

I went

to wear frolicking babies; 

one on the basin

The other on the stove.


Until a mismatched rainbow hatched the monochrome ground

From where I broke


To birth myself again


In collage. 

In Time

The moment I was clothed in sheep-wool

And put out to bah with crowded language,

I strayed, I strayed

I dug the graves the vultures had ploughed

And made a song to amuse

The charade called joker-faced destiny


Marx said you are too good

In markets to run, all the stable boy parades

We ran, we ran

Inspecting the pulps found in the tomato cans

So exotic and bloody, if that be true

We thought we had seen the very last of you.


It is a love letter to a reluctant lover

I pray, I pray

Listening through the metallic walls

Into absence

Of history, time and space.

The mangrove older and taller than us all, 

Has never and will never say.

Cotard’s syndrome

The very breath I take

Thins my blood

Into delivering an existence

To the brain

Which does not exist

And so the mirror-image

Shall cease

Because bricolages are no keys

I refuse, I rot, I stop thinking,

Heads turn into tails

And the chair next to my bookshelf

Sighs at last

Calling me to the land of stationary

Where egos go back to their eggs

And I am once again,

More than a language trick. 


Slumber in the woods

Sometimes in life, you peek into a forest
And find out about the absence

Of manicured conversations, against

A sense of rudimentary—primordial

 And speechless nature

Of woods, paralytic in their growth

Of savage shrubs and all aloof,

Off the trail

An orchid under a frozen lake.

I step-step

It thaws and derives me

From my parched roots—

I am growing away from the blood-raided corporate altars,

Changing the way I think

When a lily drops upon my navel—

 in her modest sorrow,

She takes away my hunger,

Of people and poetry.


Into a pitch-black pool without my spectacles, I fall

I rest

I sleep.