3.3 Free Form
 Fugitive City

Words by Mitra Visveswaran
October 2021

A poem about the voice of sudden anger that comes from being trapped inside a dull brain fog, which seems to be the resting place for most of our psyches today.

We don’t follow our dreams here, not in fugitive city

We sort of amble after them, limping

Shifting our eyes at every slight happening

(The flight of a crow)

Everything is significant

(white noise)

this shifting of attention is not attentive really

It’s a neither-here-nor-there sort of affair

I’m not here but I’m not where my eyes have shifted either

I am not here

And I am not there

In fugitive city we are half-way

We exist like polished boots glinting in the sun,

Glistening, waiting to be ruined

Surreal, because nobody wears boots here

It is far too humid and leather is politically out of fashion

In fugitive city we eat underseasoned instant noodles

(we don’t notice, or we notice but we don’t mind)

The sky is a fluorescent lavender-dust

Technicolour sunsets are captured by shifting eyes

And desires are stowed away in daydreams

Most daydreams are foggy

They pull like puppet strings

We do as they bid yet they never materialise.

Real flesh and bone is not the stuff of dreams.

It is difficult, it demands:

1. Eyes less shifty

2. Solidity

3. Time that is slower

In fugitive city we are captivated endlessly

Like glazed doughnuts

Frost-covered, we fit snugly in a box with a plastic opening

Looking outside, mouths agape, dazed.

In fugitive city gutters carry voices

We find beauty in translucent roach-feathers that catch the sunlight just right

You are not understanding, this is dystopia, but we smile.

We make beauty from noise

Dreams out of the powdered rubble that we have

The gutters carry stories and messenger pigeons are driven out of city homes

Vile words and the smell of vinegar fill the air

Despite what we call ourselves

Despite the languishing, and the weights atop our eyelids

We are living and we find a way to flower.

To make a song or tell a story or dream a dream

and never have it happen, but to dwell in its currents anyway.

This is dystopia but we are surviving and from time to time

Our eyes shift to catch each other’s

and we connect.

Illustration by Jishnnu B

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Fugitive City by Mitra Visveswaran is the winning submission for Whistle with Mysticeti - our poetry competition for aspiring writers.

Mitra is an artist from Chennai, Tamil Nadu. She is training to be a psychologist.