Rishi Dastidar

the poet

A poem from Rishi Dastidar’s debut Ticker-tape was included in The Forward Book of Poetry 2018. A pamphlet, the break of a wave, was published by Offord Road Books in 2019, and in the same year, Rishi edited The Craft: A Guide to Making Poetry Happen in the 21st Century for Nine Arches Press. His second collection, Saffron Jack, will be published in the UK in March 2020, also by Nine Arches Press.

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the poems

A leopard parses his concern

00:00 / 01:57

1. I am concerned about Claudia Cardinale.
 
2. By ‘concerned’ I mean ‘in lust with’.
 
3. By ‘in lust with’ I mean ‘I sigh for’.
 
4. By ‘I sigh for’ I mean ‘my eyes are hungry for her when she appears on screen’.
 
5. By ‘hungry’ I mean ‘revel in her’.
 
6. By ‘revel’ I mean ‘enjoy’.
 
7. By ‘enjoy’ I mean ‘endure’.
 
8. By ‘endure’ I mean ‘wait in the hope that she might, like a god, pick me out to be
noticed, even though I have done nothing noticeable’.
 
9. By ‘pick me out’ I mean ‘not actually come near me lest my reserves of charm
desert me at a highly inopportune moment’.
 
10. By ‘not actually come near me’ I mean ‘actually come near me, preferably in a
darkened Neapolitan hotel room’.
 
11. By ‘darkened’ I mean ‘the presence of Lampedusa will be evident; he will be
sitting in a green damask armchair, his walking stick tapping out the beat of a fugue’.
 
12. By ‘fugue’ I mean ‘a Morse code translation of his most famous quote’.
 
13. By ‘quote’ I mean ‘the only appropriate approach to living’.
 
14. By ‘living’ I mean ‘love’.

In my pocket

00:00 / 00:26

In my pocket

is the moment
I woke up
with you stroking 
my left bicep,
gentle alarm clock;
a well-practiced
image of intimacy 
from a red-eye’s
soon-again stranger.

But it isn’t;
time and touch
leave nothing apart
from a memory.

Neptune's concrete crash helmet

00:00 / 01:26

I rest my head for a moment on the cool concrete wall 
of the art gallery and in its undulations I can feel the past 
trying to break out of its unexpected vertical tomb.

I could rub the back of my head into one of the grooves,

wear it away, erode it imperceptibly over a day’s eon
until I could place my head right back into the crevasse,

a temporary sarcophagus, an extra heavy duty crash helmet.
This of course might be an over-reaction to the images
I’ve just seen: a world melting, gangsters wearing dresses

and razor’d scars of silver stars, lakes of petrol waiting 
for paper boats to be sailed upon them, as if Neptune had 
said yes to a sponsorship deal from [insert oil company name 

here] but only lately realised that the proposed replacement
for a rapidly-drying Aral Sea might not have been everything 
promised in the brochure. Caveat emptor, as we all should have

said in 1764 when Hargreaves spun Jenny, but how could any 
of us know that coal + steam would equal not just movement 
but the end? I might stay in here, it keeps my head cool.

Publishing credits

A leopard parses his concern: The Compass

In my pocket: the break of a wave (Offord Road Books)

Neptune’s concrete crash helmet: Magma Issue 72

© original authors 2020

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