One Poem by Umang Kalra


this is what punctuation looks like: gratuitous 
           extravagance               in the face of almost-death. 
we are running out of time: why               are you breathing 
           between words? everything is 
returning sideways and we are running out 
           of things to call new. somehow       we are dancing still: 
                        it is their turn            to watch & are you wondering still 
           what we look like              to the debris? [                ] used to tell me how 
                        we were protected from catastrophe 
           by a stroke of gravitational luck. i wonder where 
                    we are meant to put our fondnesses in this system 
                                 of approximate death. i am drawing lines               across 
                    a star-map for you: this memory is too 
                                 shallow             for you to remember & i must 
                    hold a funeral attended well enough              for the both of us. 
                                 we were never          supposed to matter enough 
                                               to be able to look up          fruitfully—we were never 
                                 supposed to grow our own futures in the soil, look, death is 
                                            only consequent if there is someone around 
                                 to mourn. will you stay, for me? when the sun caves in and only 
                                           our emojis remain. will you digitize it all for us? 
                                                                    will you tell our corpses we were here, wondrous 
                                           and watching the sky draw patterns 
                                                                      for us to pray to? 
                                           will you ask       for us to try again? 
                                                                    at the end of the world, will you think of kissing me? 
                                                                    will you live long enough just to feel it            again? 
                                                                    will the planets look like familiar friends? 
                                                                    what of water, of surveillance, of psychiatry, of all 
                                                                                our other cities? will you build 
                                                                    them again, this time 
                                                                    tell the moon               i would swallow
                                                                                it if i could. tell jupiter 
                                                                    thank you / look 
                                                                                            up again for me & call it 
                                                                                chance. everything else: 
                                                                    is an orchestrated plan. agriculture 
                                                                                looks discordant from up there. 
                                                      what are we doing? let the soil swallow
                                           you too. i’ll meet you in there.


Umang Kalra is a writer from India and the founding EIC of VIBE. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Wax Nine, Lucy Writers’ Platform, and elsewhere. They are a two-time Best of the Net Anthology finalist and a Pushcart nominee. Read more at