No Assonance in Stroganoff

by Shriram Sivaramakrishnan —

this poet is having dinner with/ a shot of Espresso/ his dinner: Veg Stroganoff/ made of zucchini, broccoli, mushroom, baby corn, green peas, tossed with tomato paste, paprika and cream/ served on a bed of flavoured rice/ ff cc oo ss he saw and ordered/ if there was assonance on the plate/ he does not see it/ the gravy dammed on all sides by the rice/ and that name: Stroganoff/ it reminded him of Smirnoff/ he who once sipped it because his friends wanted him to/ and slipped into the space it offered/ …Stroganoff he says to the waiter/ then Stroganon to himself/ his Kindle snug in its black case/ slant as a rhyme/ resting on the support the case had for easy-read yet wakes up to the slightest of touches to settle on Essayism by Brian Dillon/ Brian is saying how he discovered Barthes from the works of other writers like/ the light reflected off silver ear-studs/ and his Camera Lucida/ Brian stops a little short of calling the ‘picture’ as tincture for the mind/ Barthes too does not say it in Camera Lucida when Camera Lucida is clearly an elegy/ to his mother/ the floorboard bounces from the weight of other customers/ the floorboard is a false ceiling someone says/ this poet is now intrigued/ this poet looks down from his table on the first floor/ the floor is a ceiling/ when viewed from the ground level as it is being looked at now by a waiter who can’t wait/ this poet knows well what the waiter is going through/ this poet who was once a waiter himself/ in black and black balancing draft beers and Crispy Fritters/ his manager watching his every move/ the man who taught him how to face customers how to face the last drunkard of the night/ the same man who said the gin must percolate past the melting geometries of/ ice cubes and settle at the bottom while the tonic/ opened and left to tart the tongue/ the man who spoke of Stevie Wonder with such awe/ the man who played My Cherie Amour/ on a loop/ the man of many cuisines/ this poet knows well what the waiter is going through/ the floorboard still creaks but a floor is not/ a wall/ a dam is a wall/ a wall is a wall on its either sides/ this poet masticates this poet rips the dark side of a mushroom/ strange/ this poet is allergic to mushroom/ but the mushroom takes not much room of his hunger/ this poet does not know it/ this poet only knows that the shot is bitter

Shriram Sivaramakrishnan is a proud alumnus of Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. His poems have recently appeared in Allegro, Coast to Coast to Coast, Bird’s Thumb, Pidgeonholes, among others. His debut pamphlet, Let the Light In, was published by Ghost City Press in June 2018. He tweets at @shriiram