Man on a Rocking Chair in San Juan & I Shot a .38

Man on a Rocking Chair in San Juan


In San Juan I found a man

rocking on his balcony,

the floors creaking,

the glaze in the gaze,

a daffodil stem

hanging from his lips.

I asked him

was he truly

an Indépendantiste?

He shot me a glance,

red in the eyes,

stopped his rocking,

spat in a can,

just to say

that for now,

all he wanted

was his libertad,

a free man, with free choice,

that’s it, that’s all!

¿Entendí algo?


In an ice-bound heaven,

the dream had been


hung from a hook

some years ago,

adjourned, deferred,

a concerto in repose.

An orchestra,

with bows frozen,

icicles hanging.

An epic,

with faces caught,

mouths open

in a moment of despair.

À la prochaine,

with a tilt of the head.

As tears flowed,

it became a still shot,

an interim movement,

an opus for all.


But, here, in the Alps,

in a village called D,

where the snow drifts,

where pin-striped bellies

shake, vibrate,

sniggers abound,

decisions count.

GDP per capita goes Y-ways,


Growth and debt goes X-ways,


Numbered accounts

and interest rates,

Z-ways, fixed.

No balconies,

no rocking chairs

in this castle regal.

No one chews tabac.

Limos drive in and out,

tinted windows and

shadows inside.

Independence, my friend,

is like Capital sans Labour –

a flippant issue, perhaps,

but worth a note –

that sovereignty today,

ça n’existe pas.

The polished floors don’t creak.

The daffodils don’t weep.

“And the wind whispers Mary…

After all jacks are in their boxes

And the clowns have all gone to bed,”

Jimi says, so softly.

There is nothing to sweep away,

as everything is already swept.


The man from San Juan,

with the daffodil stem

hanging from his lips…

The balcony creaks.

The chair rocks.

No man can be seen.


(May 2018)




I Shot a .38

(or Skylight Phobia Version 2)


I shot a .38 through the skylight,

a neat hole, no cobweb

left behind.

Just an accident! I said,

No tension, no threat!


The cartouche

rose steep, parabolic!


Reached its pungent peak

1500 yards up,

climbed down, slowly

passed a cackle

of geese

headed south,


Look, I said,


taking the cue

from VP Gore,

who I’d just seen,

the day before,

on a group discount

at the Paramount.


It hit a neighbour’s clothesline,

flipped clumsily,

resting gently

in the pocket of a kitchen bib

used deftly

by Ms. Turcotte,

who worked in forensics

for a company

she thought

could be basis

for a series, dark,

on BBC,

called CSI Parc!

Yes, Parc!

That rue they called Bourassa

for a week only.


She spied the hole in the skylight

with a telescopic sight

made in Italy,

calculated the impact and velocity,

and determined me to be guilty.

She invited me for dinner.

Gracious! I said,

but dubious, mos def’ly.


She made carbonara, horribly,

and pastry that was pasty,

crusty and oily.

I shuddered mildly

at her hospi-tality.

The blue neon lights,

the quivering maroon lips,

were brand CSI.

Incredible! I said to her,

feigning total intrigue.


I found the errant cartouche

sitting delinquent

in an Akhavan sack.

And when she turned her back,

I lifted it promptly,

holding the .38 to her head.

I’m taking my cartridge back, immediately! I said.

No trace!


She agreed politely

and I left quietly,

knowing she would

study my saliva on a plate,

for DNA left behind.


Traces of skylight phobia

in the ancestral blood

of my émigré utopia…

My parents arrived

in the dead of night,

in a boat from Sri Lanka.


(November 2006/January 2018)



Rana Bose is a member of our editorial team.