A Kite on a Calcutta Sky

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All those kites are imperfectly square
All of the kites are sheer clear light
All of’em are made with some throwaway paper
Flimsy, brittle, kitschy, never handled with care
They sleep in a dingy dump on top of each other
They catch a bad cold ‘n sneeze all too easy
Their mothers are orphans and dads are too busy
They don’t fly like the Chinese kites do
With deadly dragons painted in bottle green and red
Drawing awesome grunts and moans from the viewers
When an annual contest will be TV reported
Or huge ‘Merkan structures they need three men to lift
Toys their competitions dread
Calcutta on a mid-September dusk
When the sky colors practically misty blue and musk
With clay oven smoke tinged copper and zinc
Some believe it could be lead or arsenic
When the sun dives perpendicular as fast as possible
And takes a hard tranquilizer to rush back to bed

A some boy of thirteen who had roti mud and grass
Rice and reddish dal with a tinge of dark ash
Risen from his only mother’s dilapidated urn
And the boy named Stupid has enough of sunburn

Snuck up on top of his landlord’s tin roof
With a thief’s naughty grin, and with both hoofs
He huffed and he puffed and he paused for a second
Looked ’round, if ‘n when to mason measure and reckon
His string wheel’s up there the hole he shoved last night
Pulled from the tarpaulin a purple candle kite

Quickly made the string spindle with swift nifty fingers
Pressed it with his left hand to weigh its proper shine
Connected a hundred yards glass-powdered twine
With a fling off his right hand he gave it a free flight…

Whoosh…

Off it goes away, way up high it flies
Dances like a ballerina with glass-slipper swerves
Delicate and soft and undulating curves
High…high…way high…

On the misty gray and smokey blue old Calcutta sky

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4 thoughts on “A Kite on a Calcutta Sky

  1. Beautiful. Amazing. Deep. I could smell the industrial air and feel the heat, and get a sense of the poverty and injustice that the children take for granted, but find life anyway.

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