Stomach lines

I crack open a box of apple crunch cereal
that I purchased with such excitement
and douse the little flakes in a bowl of cold milk
Mixing the little oats and sweet cinnamon shavings
I scoop the sugar filled mix
with a small spoon

The delicious morsels I ingest
on a dull, overcast day
bring peace and comfort
in a form
as simple as milk and sugar

I indulge to my heart’s contentment
and soon
my stomach is full of empty calories
my blank page is bursting with words
the hunger pangs have ceased
the words no longer grieve

The creed of the starving artist
has finally been freed
The three dollars spent
are guilty
of facilitating the liberty achieved

Things we aren’t told

I was about 17 when I first saw him. He never talked to the other neighbors or chatted with anyone. I heard from my girlfriend at the time that he lived alone and that he had recently lost his wife. There was nothing extraordinary about his appearance but every time I walked past him, I felt gripped by a cloud of anxiety and silence. I would stare at him awkwardly not knowing whether to drop my head, say hello, or keep walking nonchalantly.

I never said hello and more often than not, I dropped my head to avoid awkward eye contact. Still I noted his appearance every time I saw him. He seemed quietly desperate, almost bursting with something but I couldn’t figure out what. When I was told he had recently lost his wife, I felt immense pity. Imagining a life of such startling sadness was difficult. I was hardly an adult and this man had seemingly suffered beyond my comprehension of what life could do to people given the chance to go awry.

I feared such an existence but also wondered what sparked the silence around him. Being fairly innocent, I assumed he was just weird or that something else was wrong with him. Maybe he was simply crazy and everything that happened to him could never happen to someone like me; someone so favored by luck and good fortune.

He was worlds away when he would walk past and I let him disappear from my mind for weeks only to be reminded of him when we would occasionally cross paths in the neighborhood. My life was so busy with parties, friends and fun that I had no time to wonder about the fate of such men.

One day, while I was feeling particularly happy, I felt the need to acknowledge him so I said hello. He didn’t say anything back. I considered if he was rude or maybe even a snob. How could this weird guy think he was better than me? He hadn’t given that kind of impression before. I set aside my feelings and settled on the thought that he was probably strange, just as I had imagined earlier, or arrogant.

Soon after 9/11 happened, things changed forever. Our lives were never to be the same and tragedy had struck through the middle of our city and through the heart of my fragile young existence. People disappeared from each other’s lives and society had been rocked at its foundation. I didn’t understand much about what had happened and how it would impact us.

One evening, I was walking through the neighborhood with my girlfriend when I saw him again. She greeted him and he smiled and waved. I turned to her surprised.
“You know him? He’s weird” I said, taken aback.
“I know. I feel bad for him,” she said.
I wondered if he lost more family in the terror attacks.
“I know he lost his wife. I hope he didn’t lose more family?” I said.
She looked at me and her tone changed. I felt the strange silence again. I turned around to see him walking off in his yellow polo shirt and khaki shorts, alone as always.
“Many years ago, a plane crashed in the Potomac river. He jumped in the water and tried to drag people to safety. A lot of them died in his arms. He’s a hero. I didn’t tell you this?”

 

A few pleasures

If I peel the layers of flesh
from the core of my vices
the pleasures would come tumbling out
one after the other

Hedonistic, self-indulgent debauchery
served a five-course meal
poured as a long drink
enjoyed endlessly like skin upon skin
imbibed in any shape or form
and swallowed greedily
for the sake of insatiable desire

Drowning in tubs of fulfillment
in vats proofed for intemperance
swimming in flesh
a man can disperse and disappear
but never fully dissolve

Therefore, you put him back together
carefully
the layers stitched and glued
over and over through the forgiving hands
of endless labor
the faltering features gathered
the callouses and scars
create a human collage
a package born of indulgence
invalid and outdated
pieced and pried from pleasure

 

Familiar faces

Call upon the wisps of wind
To sweep away the features of my bare face
Lift the particles of pigment
Until I appear without appearance
Unrecognized
Indistinguishable
Unseen upon a body
like the many others
signed to these conditions
for eternity in a day

There is not a war to destroy me
Or a disease to take me
Not a famine to starve me
Or a drought to parch me

Nothing will do harm
Nothing will signal the need for alarm
Nothing but abject anonymity
Nothing but serenity in the calm

There is nothing I lack
Floating away
through the day
into the evanescent evening
but a face intact

The hands of innocence

Your fingers do not know of malicious ways
sauntering aimlessly upon my chest in springtime solace
On vast green meadows your hands extend to trace mine
burrowing upon my body with each beat
pulsing through the tips of your gentle touch

My chest bares brightness
brought on by the boughs of warmth splashing through the fields
dancing on my stomach
under the soft undertones of ubiquitous light
rustling against my skin
desire favors the lime green blades of grass
we come to call our home

The earth holds us up
together
as seeds unplanted upon this perpetual pasture
you swirl letters of love upon my body
a worship so young and fragile
imprinted upon my being forever
Your fingers do not know
of malicious ways

 

Book Release: Glass Streams

Hi all! Here is the link to my second collection of short stories titled “Glass Streams”.
It’s available for only $3,99 as an eBook (paperback coming soon!).
There are a total of 17 short stories in this collection. I’m very excited to finally publish this book!
“Glass Streams is a collection of short fiction stories written by Shashank Mane. Stories and plots are based around an eclectic mix of characters from all walks of life. The stories range from situations of war and love to old age and longing. Adventures unfold in various locations around the world with themes of displacement, isolation, and hardship often present. The stories have been written between 2015 and 2019. This collection is suitable for lovers of literary fiction. Glass Streams is Shashank Mane’s second collection of short stories.”

Becoming

The leaves no longer rustle through the yard
The dust scattered, settled and calmed
There is only quiet without any sign of a storm
There are only the signals of silence
without need for alarm

Poke away at the dearth
The dire depths peeling back the layers of calm
Never a stir or shuffle in the open grounds
The vacant fields harvested of sound
still possessed by an endless charm

I touch the scarcity with the tip of my fingers
I place the paucity in the grips of my palms
I simmer inside the pastures of stillness
Only for the calmness to crawl up the veins of my arms

The many ways

The burst of springtime sunshine
over my windowsill
begs me to wander outside
aimlessly

Over the abandoned playground
and through the deserted trails
up the lonely hill
and out into the empty street

The ghosts of mid-morning
are out amidst the dust and gravel
flashing in dashes and sparkles

The walks cleanse the barren
Still, the dusty corners in slow decay
must be visited on occasion
to make sure they haven’t filled
with the unnecessary

Solitude is a way of being

 

Anchors

Hold him down
to a ground so steady
keep him on firm footing
Balance the boy
full of joy
and keep him standing
upon a ground of stability

He’s hard to hold
He won’t sit still
or stay in place
He won’t listen
nor take advice
Have mercy on us

dear belligerent boy

don’t pinch the girls
don’t break the rules
don’t go against us
don’t be a fool

Listen to your mother
take heed of others
don’t scorn your brothers
live a life of less color

Be more like us
Be less like you
don’t be a child
don’t do anything
we wouldn’t do

Oh, my boy
you’ll never change
the seas will swallow you whole
like the countless ships
they have already claimed

Still you float along
everyday
oh, my dear boy
Will you ever be
another way?

On society and politics

The divided world continues to further separate like oil and water poured together into a small cup. We share the same space yet we cannot agree on policies and programs given our convictions, ideals, and outlooks. Tensions rise, values differ, and people remain guarded to their own way of being. With such divisional rifts between politicians, personas, and neighbors, what will become of the world as it clams and shuts to difference and dialogue, and tries to walk backwards, away from past promises, rational dealing, and science?

A foray into popular modern media can quickly expose opportunists, naysayers and conspiracy theorists ready to hold their ground and take on any challenger to their point of view. People would rather defend a false belief than swallow a small amount of pride to accept science, history, and fact for the greater good of humanity and understanding. Niche sects of outrageous schools of thought, such as holocaust deniers, 9-11 and other conspiracy theory believers, and people who buy into “alternate facts” as a way of satisfying their soul when truth does not sit well with them, have taken over the realms of modern life and misinformation.

As we threaten to destroy decades of accepted, tried and tested scientific findings, the questions remain about politics and the political games of division and conquering. On many occasions, simply taking an alternate stand to a rival politician has fueled the success of bipartisan politics, much of which is rooted more in power struggle and money than anything else. From climate change to poverty to other significant issues affecting the modern world, denial and dissociation from fact have led the world astray from protecting itself as a global society. Furthermore, the minds of many are swayed by the actions of few, and many would rather hold on to the notions that their “way of life” is threatened to accept fallacies and misconceptions, than simply understand the facts and figures, and the ever important “why’s” of life.

The power of the ultra-elite and rich in the US, who fuel an almost “government behind the government” in terms of lobbying power and safe guarding of intent and interests, often at the hands of the low-income families who blindly support them, is undeniable. Usually voting against their own interests and against pragmatic policies pledging to truly support them, much of the uninformed masses do not realize the damage done to their own societies and well-being by their misguided actions. Many do not care to listen, feeling more as if they are being attacked than informed.

As the world backtracks into political darkness and a dearth of dignity and integrity, what remains to be seen is if political brazenness and cunning will also reverse course from the current political climate. It is difficult to truly go back in time as society but learning from history, which often repeats itself in different shapes and forms, is pivotal. Whether the world wants to open its eyes to the truth in front of us remains to be seen.