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I don’t know how to negotiate the long steep trail
with hidden scorpions under loose rocks
at home with human muck in a valley’s existence
strolling upward through a thicket of TV images
politics of glory, garbage and god
the odd arts of money, hierarchy and control
nobody knows who unmakes whom

I don’t know how to follow the ridges
back to the trail and the dead river
but stand for a moment to rub sand from my feet
before worrying about the lost vitality and fear
of the approaching night and rising smoke
dissolving in the sky or conspiring with elements
hardly in balance but contorting the psyche

I don’t know what is there for me to hope
when the rains rejuvenate and flood both
the repulsive stench and the loss of pathways
linger longer than the flavor of the first drops
under the tree the puddle feeds no sparrows
but algae that couldn’t dry now trap tiny souls
that fail to swell with heaven’s breath

- R. K. Singh, Dhanbad, India

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