Poem : Death, a Mile Distant

As much as a well-written introduction can offer the discerning reader perspective on the work they’re about to read, there is a good chance that it will – especially if it is both insightful and detailed – exert a disproportionate influence on them; and, by doing so, rob them of the chance to simply savour the work in their idiosyncratic way.
       Consequently, I have decided (from now on) to do away with an introduction or foreword. Instead, I will reserve my commentary for the afterword.

Death, a Mile Distant

Upon the railway track I see
A limping dog, a ragged soul within
A coat
Of flea-bitten fur
Half-sheared by the razor of the years.
The ash-white stones
Cut, dagger-like, into his
Canine pads: the fox and wolf in him are dead.
He stumbles now,
A soldier on enfeebled feet.
Ahead, (where curves this track
Of rushing dreams), he hears
That dread metallic howl.
He spreads himself
Across a sunburnt bar of steel and waits
For death, a mile distant.


“…our images must be given to us, we cannot choose them deliberately.” – W.B Yeats

“…ಹಾಡೆ ಹಾದಿಯ ತೋರಿತು” or “…the song itself showed the way” – ದ. ರಾ. ಬೇಂದ್ರೆ (Da. Ra. Bendre)

The poem above was written, in late 2014, in about three minutes, the words flowing like rainwater down a slope. I do not say this to boast. Instead, I am almost certain that the poem was the (eventual) expression of an image “given” to me – that of a dog that meets its death on a railway track. Where the image came from I cannot really say. What I do know is that I would love for more images to be “given to me”!
       Also, the free verse form of this poem is in stark contrast to the rhymed forms of the other poems I wrote around the same time. It is this obvious difference that made me reference Bendre. Who knows – in this case, perhaps it was the poem itself that showed me the form it needed to take.
       I’d like to thank my aunt, Anjana, for immediately recognizing the merit of this poem and offering her praise. She has since the beginning (and despite her overwhelming schedule) found the time to be both my most faithful reader and discriminating critic.

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