Two Poems

by Tara Jayakar

Palinode: Black Smoke

On the train
Over Williamsburg
Bridge I consider
telling my father
I can’t love you
how you think
I should love you
& there’s fresh

black smoke floating
over the river
for days
for days in the sky, wisps
without a source
but I know
black smoke comes from history
burning down
& food
offered up
so we can see away
disappointing dad
          he must be so
after floating around for
almost a year, a lunar
year that is a full
lunar year my
mother’s father has been
wandering around
& every morning I say
good morning Thatha, I love
you and I miss you
so No, it’s not a question of can’t

the first time
I heard WHAM!’s
Last Christmas, sixteen Christmases ago
I thought of my dad
& my mom
& the hours, waiting
for him to be done
at his other Christmas
& our dog &
his other dog
& black smoke
& how those tiny cilia just usher
us along &
how it’s all so impossible
how all senses say that this place—
Manhattan, this Earth—
one second away
from devastation
at all times
it shouldn’t exist & here it is—
venting black smoke & still
here I am pouring my blood into it
& here we are
setting so much on fire
with a tossing aside
of something else we all three of us
my father my thatha my self
burned to the butt
so witnessing this black smoke
while George Michael sings
This year,
to save me from tears,
hear me when I say
I cried for my decision
not to love my father
to say no,
thank you, to this love
as it’s been given
& how it felt
it feels
like how stone fruit feels
like how upturned palms at rest feel holy
& how WHAM!’s
needing to do and to be better
feels lonesome & hurt
but holy
but holy
but holy
just the same.


It’s pretty easy, actually, to skirt around
that bursting place. Build a pantry around it,
put some oorga on the high shelves,
sour and patient and souring even more.
Turn the lights off. The empty parts
will blend in with the dark. Make a door and close it.
            ab- from the latin, meaning off, or away from
                         absence: to be, away from
                         abscess: a way, off body

                        absorb: to be from, sucking

It’s funny, even when I sleep
I’m terrified of cornered space, possible shadows.
The closet from my childhood bedroom, in fact,
most closets, and the bathroom, so often filled
with every squelching thing I’ve pulled from a drainpipe,
            tender fuzz, unripe manga, just begging for a mouth
                         sing: Tara, baby
                         sing: Tara, baby
                         sing: Tara, baby

Around noon, I’ll swing this body out of bed: You are not
your father, i’ll say, You will show up today. (The globe in the pantry rattles

the door between us.) I place two feet on the ground and try
to hold my color—like the sunset on a hill, all orange and flared
brown to blue to lightless—
while it seeps through my skin through the soles of my feet
            I’ll sweep the sharp glass and oil and pickled limes that also seep, and walk
                         away: to you, I love you
                         away: and you, thank you
                         away: and you, I love you, hello


Tara Jayakar is the Founding Editor/Bookmaker at Raptor Editing, and is earning her MFA from Sarah lawrence College. Mostly she’s a poet, loves breakfast and her friends.