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I

To the Ascari, a poem is
neither found nor composed,
it is always planted.

The poem is read as it
grows and gains shoot and
leaves and bark and climbs
stanza-wise to the Sun.

Words on these poems do not
grow old, similes discarded as
easily as leaves, while roots
drink deep of the times'
passions and feed flowers as
beautiful as youth.

II

Some poem trees are planted
in simple square lined plots,
allowing you to walked enchanted
among their thousand perfumed thoughts.

Others are in wild tangled woods,
and unlike the centipede-bodied
Ascari, humans cannot walk
easily through these woods. Once
a lifetime they may go in.
They wander naked and mapless,
branches and thorns tearing skin,
blood trickling down to feed
the forest.
Until at last they come to
the tree that speaks to them,

They run their hands over
its rough bark and are granted,
sometimes in flower, sometimes in leaf,
the answer they always carried
with them.

III

To be granted a seedling
from a poem tree is
both a blessing and a curse.

To be bound to the earth.
To find a house and land you
will live on for the rest
of your life.

To plant the seedling and
watch its words slowly grow
and unfold with age and
demand that you bequeath it
to your child.

Who will look upon it
every day with the resentment
of the certainly fated.

Who on some days will
approach it with axe or saw,
and with an unexpected wind,
feel its branches caressing
his face, and who will then
walk back ashamed.

And who on other days will
find a leaf laying casually
on her desk, who will
run her fingers down its
perfect veins in wonder and
press it, with all the others,
between the pages of a book,
certain that she will one day
understand them all.




Rohinton Daruwala lives and works in Pune, India. He tweets as @wordbandar and blogs at https://wordbandar.wordpress.com/. His first collection of poems is The Sand Libraries of Timbuktu (Speaking Tiger 2016). His work has previously appeared in Strange Horizons, New Myths, Star*Line, Liminality, Through the Gate, and Silver Blade.
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We would like stories that are joyous, horrific, hopeful, despondent, powerful and subtle. Write something that will take our breath away, make us yell and cry. Write unapologetically in your local patois and basilects in space; make references to local events and memes to your heart’s content. Write something that makes you laugh and cry. Indulge in all the hallmarks of your heritage that you find yourself yearning for in speculative literature, but know that we will not judge you based on your authenticity as a Southeast Asian. 
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