Poetry: tug of war between whisper and rumor by Karan Kapoor

Strung through with the tension invoked by its title, Karan Kapoor’s poem invites us into the complexities of a relationship ridden with bitterness and the wear and tear of years. Through a form which winds unpunctuated like a long road, we are asked to glimpse the griefs of each of the speaker’s parents. 

tug of war between whisper and rumor

Is there pain inherent in loving

two who do not love each other?

— T. Fleischmann


two decades of marriage
              two decades each of them mourning
he or she is the suffering party

my father’s skull a city
              he does not wish to visit
his skin an atlas of fear
              he is too tired of tracing

he cracks two eggs at sunrise
              packs idealism for lunch
chews nothing for dinner

              he sleeps in a river
labors in a desert
              she scorns in a snakepit
absolves on a stage

              she walked out how
many times to return
              each time a new name
for the shadows
              on her face

she nursed me with the slowdrip
              of sorrow known only to women
who scrape pieces of themselves
              like earth from onions

my father does not own
              a spoon so he built a staircase
that enters the earth

              he says this is exile
longing for what you are
              always beneath

she calls this doubt
              numb to the naked
road ahead

              children are stones in our bowls



Karan Kapoor

Karan Kapoor is a poet. They have been awarded or placed for James Hearst Poetry Prize, Rattle Annual Prize, Ledbury Poetry Prize, Julia Darling Memorial Prize, Red Wheelbarrow Prize, John & Eileen Allman Prize for Poetry, Orison Anthology Award, and Literary Taxidermy Competition. Their manuscript Portrait of the Alcoholic as a Father was a semi-finalist for the Charles B. Wheeler Poetry Prize. Their poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, Poetry Online, Colorado Review, Prism Review, The Offing, Frontier, and elsewhere. You can find them at: karankapoor.co.in

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