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Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar is the author of Deepening Groove (National Poetry Review Press, 2011) and the forthcoming What Else Could It Be: Ekphrastics and Collaborations (Carolina Wren Press, 2015). He teaches at Central Connecticut State University and in the City University of Hong Kong’s MFA Program. Shankar lives in Chester, Connecticut.

By This Poet

4

Crossings

Between forest and field, a threshold 
like stepping from a cathedral into the street—
the quality of air alters, an eclipse lifts, 

boundlessness opens, earth itself retextured 
into weeds where woods once were.
Even planes of motion shift from vertical

navigation to horizontal quiescence:   
there’s a standing invitation to lie back 
as sky’s unpredictable theater proceeds. 

Suspended in this ephemeral moment 
after leaving a forest, before entering
a field, the nature of reality is revealed. 

Ants

One is never alone. Saltwater taffy colored 
beach blanket spread on a dirt outcropping 
pocked with movement. Pell-mell tunneling,  

black specks the specter of beard hairs swarm, 
disappear, emerge, twitch, reverse course 
to forage along my shin, painting pathways 

with invisible pheromones that others take 
up in ceaseless streams. Ordered disarray, 
wingless expansionists form a colony mind, 

no sense of self outside the nest, expending 
summer to prepare for winter, droning on
through midday heat. I watch, repose, alone.

Lines on a Skull

(Haiku Erasure of Lord Byron's "Lines Inscribed Upon a Cup Formed from a Skull")

Start spirit; behold
the skull. A living head loved
earth. My bones resign

the worm, lips to hold
sparkling grape's slimy circle,
shape of reptile's food.

Where wit shone of shine,
when our brains are substitute,
like me, with the dead,

life's little, our heads
sad. Redeemed and wasting clay
this chance. Be of use.