Book review: The Branches by Dominic Alapat

My ratings: 3/5the branches

The sequel to Circling the sky and Reeling is here to complete the trilogy with poet Dominic’s favored motifs in an imprecise curation – as embryonic as — nature’s sun, moon, bird, and sky. This third book has starker shades, darker colors, closer to night, but not bleakness. The residue that gathers through the sieve of these fine-grain poems are earthy.

as your life in trains and rooms go by 

Compared to his other books painted in feather-faintness, this book has energy huddled together. Thoughts reform, on the sliding line of the poet’s existence. Intimate whisperings. The echoes of heartbeats.

the stars scared / all run from place /and fall into the darkness


I must lie here in bed blank / my open eyes so strained/ I could burst/ any moment / and die. 

But I detect pain segueing from the capturing of ennui to the movement in me the reader, making me additionally thoughtful. I am transported to the last window, last day of a life, moved into worrying for the poet. Is he okay? Will he live? Long enough?

I cannot understand / anything of / I cannot understand anything.


I tell myself all is here all the sheer sad songs of mother moon / the unborn the living / the billion voices the dead the dying / the crying / I tell myself / you’re stuck here / you’re lost / you’re crazy / and when people ask you / how you’re doing / you say cool / like a fool. 

Or have these poems attained the soul of an impressionist or escape artist that eke out these emotions from me and succeed?

In my childhood I had read a translation of Nirmal Verma’s novel and now I am reminded of this. Juxtaposing this abstract with child-like gaiety is:

where I was Emperor in my great Gothic castle / lord of all I saw / sailing to school / in my paperboat  

These poems are so gently told, so subtly hypnotic in their simplicity that I have to pay close attention. I read this book twice – once when I let it all seep, once before sleep. I realize this book comes prescribed with the time of day it has to be read in, because each poem has finality, tonality… of night, that can be intercepted in a hypnagogic state.

the cold grey metal / of the garden railings / dripping raindrops / of blue skies / swimming upside down  


there is this lamppost in a mountain beyond your mind they say

In nostalgia that burns into tungsten beauty with stars sprinkling blue nights like a mindless vacuum 


and I would walk in my windcheater / amidst the fallen branches / on the footpath / the crushed yellow laburnum floating / in puddles

If I have a grudge it is about immobility and against it. To the Pessoa and Picasso of loneliness, the Proust of haunting lonesomeness I wish to see him move on, move out from where he stands. I want his feet to travel just like his mind, drift, so he can give me more stories from other windows. I wish him to drop his motifs now at the thresholds of this trilogy or then keep them for other skies.

and wish I could fly / wish I could get out of / my body and my mind 


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