Torpor by Chetan Ashish (June 2021 Issue)

The summer that has squatted outside my house-
trudging through a mix of last night’s nightmare
and the heat already in the air.
I run towards a vague morning light with leaden legs
avoiding garbage strewn in cryptic patterns
and diseased dogs appearing at every turn.

Our dying conversations settled on the various objects in my room-
wading through used up words,
fallen like yesterday’s flowers atop the shed.
We indulge in passionless sex
As you stare without blinking at the grime on the ceiling fan
And I, at a couple of kites stuck in electric wires outside the window.

The day’s torpor stretched like a tundra-
swimming through the frozen moments
stuck together in the shivering hands of the clock, broken since December.
I descend down a blue screen
with an icy indifference both to the latest celebrity gossip
and the number of people who have died in the pandemic.

The city’s cement atmosphere-
passing through masked faces moving in unintentional unison
as if fated to the same destiny, if only until the next junction.
I wait for my bus to arrive
as I breathe in the dust of the human condition
that mixes with the lump in my throat from last winter.

The black and white television sand-
staring finally at the analogue of the absurd,
boxed in place by the night’s looping drone.
I try to move for that was my only rebellion against this
but all I can do now is pick at my nails
only conscious of them falling on the floor
and disappearing into its stagnant surface.

The viscous morass of reality-
sinking into the quicksand of my bed and blankets
and my syrupy cold sweat.
I try in vain to remind myself that stopping does not equal dying 
as I turn into abstract mosquitoes
and dissolve into a dream with polar bears playing on a beach.


Chetan is a BTech graduate and a subsequent IT employee, who is actually a wannabe arts student. Poetry is his window to that world, supported by a passion for consuming and discussing cinema, literature, and music (mainly through an anti-caste and Marxist lens). It is also a means for him to understand his place in the world better, both personally and politically. He can also be found sitting by the window in his room sipping coffee, in the company of his best friend and pet shih-tzu Albus. You can find him on Instagram.