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Garland & Ganesh

for the elephants of Kerala

Hail—humble yourself among living glory
Before you shackle & raw them out.

Sing & Dance beneath their garland trunks
Ivory tusks waiting for praise, though they only parade
Bleeding wounds & chained to culture & festival tradition.

Praise love & compassion lead the way
Toward ancient suffering
Raise a hand, cover the eyes, veil to embody celebration

Each moment herded without a thematic pretense
Thrissur Pooram
Come be extravagant & majestic
Heal what has been torn away.

Keep tradition alive
We humans the true ones
The true love & compassionate ones
The true beasts of land, us—among the gentle giants
Praise, throw the garland around the neck, choke the sense out
And bow down to memory & measure worth with respect
Let them free themselves, sing a song
Back to their land—be glory, be true ceremony
A parade of what has been lost.


I turn skeleton keys to doors
some open rooms, some rules for reflection
when faced with death
how hard looks stun darkness too

I grit my teeth at the past
years ago—I wait: when my mom’s first
surgery to remove the mass in her throat
unfazed me, how young & spoiled I was
never knowing what it could be like
right at the edge of a fight
guns drawn, blood spilled, worry pulsing

& it’s not like we were on good terms before
all baggage, weighty with scald & fury
unsure of the blood-line, all the times I left
all the times I said I couldn’t come around
how easily little moments are taken away
& it’s not like the body would know how deep disappearance goes
or it would, when it’s ready to hold out its hands giving up
I’ve figured harm & danger would come when it’s ready to
a flicker and all-consuming line of flame from her and then to me.


Shawn Anto is 23 years old from Bakersfield, California. He’s originally from Kerala, India. He currently studies at Cal State Bakersfield looking to receive his B.A. in English & Theatre. His writing has been featured or are forthcoming in The Paragon Press, Edify Fiction, Susan/The Journal, Internet Void, Ink & Voices and Mojave Heart Review.

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