Indran Amirthanayagam – Cross Talk

Amirthanayagam LE P&W July 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing July 2023

Cross Talk, poems by Indran Amirthanayagam.

Cross Talk

You used to look for deeper meanings in poetry,
you write, in your twenties. I don’t know your age—
the literary one is timeless—and I hope you will
go back to the art and open your mind and heart.

There is no turning ‘round I found once the Daimon
meets the Muse savories and sweets in hand. You can’t
just say henceforth there will be no deep dive into
the intricacies of a broken heart vessel, that you

can dance the light fandango over such matters
as lilacs in a churchyard blooming, or a bespectacled
and effete young man saying to the reader, let us go
then, you and I, or hopping a language or two, find

in Chilean Spanish the anti-poet and crucified Christ
saying voy y vuelvo: I am going. I will be back.

Holding Pattern

I did not want to decline.
I would have enjoyed digging
into the entrails, to find
the chemicals that led to quickening

in your blood, the explosion
in lyrics. But I cannot deny
the waking up of my emotions,
the bond forming when you deliver

your intimate speech for me
to shape, this damned union,
diabolic, ravishing, and
impossible given the obligations

of daily life, the commitments
to family, rings already exchanged.


When sixteen in Honolulu and moved
by Travolta and Newton-John I dressed

in a tight black suit and a loud pink shirt
and roped my nine- year-old sister into

the frame, my arms loping and hers
mirroring mine. The memory of that

photograph gives me enormous
nostalgia, to know that my sister’s

love caught in our dance steps
remains constant more than four

decades later, that within minutes
of my request this morning her help

arrives; and I am blessed as any
man or woman who knows love

has no bond or debt and is given
without question or accounting.

Thank you dear sister for acting
as our mother and our father,

for gladdening my day
and allowing me to return

to labor in tranquility
in this field I love.


Where is the undiscovered country?
Some of us have passed through
a halo, felt an intense and warm
light. Others on seeing their bodies

comatose have hurried back
to kick them alive. Life is what
happens after you are kicked,
a settling of accounts with parents,

siblings, children, noting what
is right, what can be fixed, what
must be allowed to disappear
into forgetting, although we

make commerce with hope
and will not let the sleeping cliché lie.

© Indran Amirthanayagam

Indran Amirthanayagam produced a “world record” in 2020 publishing three poetry collections written in three different languages. He writes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Haitian Creole. He has published twenty two poetry books, including Isleño (R.I.L. Editores)Blue Window (translated by Jennifer Rathbun) (Diálogos Books), Ten Thousand Steps Against the Tyrant (, The Migrant States, Coconuts on Mars, The Elephants of Reckoning (winner 1994 Paterson Poetry Prize), Uncivil War and.The Splintered Face: Tsunami Poems. In music, he recorded Rankont Dout. He edits the Beltway Poetry Quarterly (;writes a weekly poem for Haiti en Marche and El Acento; writes; has received fellowships from the Foundation for the Contemporary Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, The US/Mexico Fund for Culture and the Macdowell Colony. He is the IFLAC Word Poeta Mundial 2022. In 2021 he won an Emergent Seed grant. His poem “ Free Bird” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. New books include Powèt nan po la (Poet of the Port ) (to be published in 2023), Origami:Selected Poems of Manuel Ulacia(Dialogos Books, January 2023), and Kont Anlèvman (Edisyon Freda, May, 2023). Indran publishes poetry books with Sara Cahill Marron at Beltway Editions (

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