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To the landlord by Karthik Purushothaman

Art by Gaurvi Sharma

I owe you

the lightening of my step

my ability to noiselessly open

the creakiest gate

and my invention

of the sign language I use

to urge the girl to run upstairs

before you take note of us.

Kaun hai? you ask

in the language I know

so little of

I sound assertive when I speak it.

I assure you it’s only me

one half of the monthly

sixteen thousand rupees piling

in the storage bed you keep

under lock and key.

My yuppie ass dreams

of splitting

your bald head open

the morning after

as you lean

on the front porch

powering your transistor

into the millennium.

I trust your tunnel vision

not to tell last night’s skirt

from last week’s salwar,

when Ladki kaun hai?

you ask and I so want

to shame you, I would have

said “cousin” had

the girl not been Russian,

so I settled for “colleague”

in this age of twenty

-four-hour workdays—

this is my engagement

with the economy

like yours, Lord Vishnu

laying on your cot waiting

for cash you know will come

by the fifth of every month.


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