On Coping, Building Supernovae

By Kiran Damodaran

On Coping

Her silence leaves a noise in my ear.
I pour myself into textbooks,
17th century history,
things that make sense.
My mind mindlessly miming
praying a grade A
stamp will seal
my postcard
escape from this quicksand
pulling me, burying me.

But as my grandmother’s hoarse breath
lullabies me to sleep,
formula after formula
flies out from me,
in a parade of quadrilaterals,
balloons helium-heavy

I sit on the edge of her bed
holding her hand as the machine
sings a helpless harmony.
My eyes close.
I sit still.
Pre-historic Mayan civilizations
used sand as blocks
to build up their fortresses
until the force of gravity drove them down
into the ground beneath—

I am the ground beneath,
pushed lower into my grave
seeking prison in
her breath
as air crescendos
stealing mine.

“Descanso” © Marysol* (https://www.flickr.com/photos/marysolra/8239235774/)

Building Supernovae

April 1987

is her rounded belly, light years wide, kissed by galaxies.
She sings each letter of the alphabet,
rocking in her grandmother’s chair in that one-bedroom apartment,
New York horns blaring as cars race towards cliffs,
her husband’s one good suit dancing in the breeze.

is the balding young businessman,
his shoulders hunched out of habit,
only stretching out when he sees his wife and daughter,
luminous wings emerging from his one good suit.
The one-size-too-small jacket
cannot contain him
and soon nothing will,
coffee stain partially hidden inside the tattered edges
and supernovae forming in his head.

October 2000

Red Giant
is the perfect penmanship of her shaking hand
building supernovae in her history notebook,
hiding question-mark-shaped scars on her upper wrists,
as the teacher lectures of the Revolutions of 1848.
The decay of a growing body seizes her soul first,
playing sadistic games with beauty,
dropping mass like bullet shells.
She holds tight to her bulletproof vest
and her father’s hand.

White Dwarf
is the smile fixed on his drooping face after a long day
as his daughter returns home,
her luminance dwindling with each passing hour.
He gives her his own, disregarding gravitational collapse,
drawings of her supernovae still consuming his mind
with pictures of happiness.

January 2005

Black Dwarf
is the darkness of her absence,
his three-bedroom supernova becoming a black dwarf.
She was his supernova. He shares faith with her forgetful
mother collapsing into silence, his luminosity nonexistent.
His back hunched into a question mark, he eludes everyone
except gravity.

is messy blue-streaked blond hair,
tattoos kissing wrists like birth marks
as her $17.99 black Harley-Davidson Goodwill boots
squelch in the tire marks of broken-down dreams:
the epitome of life.
One hand holds a bent cigarette,
the other, a dart-ridden map,
coffee and whiskey stains overlapping,
building home in untouched crevices
until she herself becomes a black hole,
gravity drawing in her mother and willing father once more.

Kiran Damodaran, an eighteen-year-old writer from Chatham, New Jersey, is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Amber Literary Magazine. He has published poetry in the Louisville Review, Edison Literary Review, Claremont Review, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Live Poets Society of NJ, Canvas Literary Magazine, Writers’ Slate, and more. He has earned two Scholastic National Medals and was selected as a National Student Poets Program Semi-Finalist.

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