Ranjit Hoskote

29 March 1969 - / Mumbai / India

Madman

He stares up at the dying stars,
this madman in a soot-black robe.
No door opens to take him in,
this madman in a soot-black robe.

He dips his pen in a darkened pool
that breaks his nib:
it's only the shadow of a cloud
that's passing above
this madman in a soot-black robe.

His long walk is a chase of leaves
through a park spelled out in leaf-stripped boughs
that offer him no roof,
no respite from the flickering snow:
he hides his chin in a threadbare scarf,
this madman in a soot-black robe.

Or is he the shadow of a cloud
that's passing above a darkened pool?
He breaks his nib in a chase of leaves,
shuffling below the threadbare boughs,
testing his will against the snow
that flickers in the narrow beam
from a window half-opened to the night.

But no door opens to take him in,
he stares up at the dying stars.
His turn will come, he strops his knife,
this madman in a soot-black robe.
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