A migraine heats the wires red behind
the panel seizures down a power line
& slap it writhing writing on the pavement
the problem with a problem of the brain is
you never cure it only manage it
the fuses thumbed across again the bucket
ascending from the truck to hitch things up
until the next storm messes with the grid
a tumor means a swelling what swells here
is starstuff layer by chatoyant layer
until whatever sand grain got inside
the cloister has become a pearl that
backlights the eardrum’s opal shaving
ossicles ashiver eavesdropping on light
There’s no electroshock no once-a-day
to manage neuroastrogenesis
no burrhole in the skull to cut you clean
& plunk that fireball into a basin
no triggers to avoid & no vaccine
I got my diagnosis at thirteen
Some people said my doctor studying
my EEG like a zagging seismograph
demanding mass evacuations some
unlucky people grow a star inside
their brains that’s not a bad thing in itself
the problem is not every womb is hooked up
to a birth canal the brain is like that
she said it has its ovaries its tubes
its uterus but things conceived inside it
have no way of getting out & so
they grow the skull is bone it can’t expand
you see the risk of all that pent up heat
developing a heart & growing feet
My parents drove me home I took
my two proverbial aspirin & melted
letters off a page by staring at them
I felt the words begin to orbit me
like orphanyms they tugged my empty pockets
begging meaning when my mother gave me
Ayurvedic remedies I spooned
my turmeric & told her it was helping
but she could see my pupils for herself
surprised like cat eyes creeping past a flashlight
If I don’t die of it I’ll live with it
even a knot of fusing hydrogen
lodged in the crook of my corpus callosum
If I don’t die of it I’ll birth my star
alpha centauri unreachably
far off blowtorching its way out dead center
through my forehead first a dot & then
a lashless fissure splitting with a hiss
my third eye bulging pulsing alien
fixing on the sun to find out who blinks first
I praise my making
though I’m made
to mourn. A fool
while the treetops
shred the kite.
I have loved.
I have died.
I have been reborn
rich & foolish
I get reborn
as a mayfly every night.
Come morning, I’m slain
& made again
like a god on a
bed with a
stain. Where there’s
nothing to father, there’s
nothing to mourn.
I get reborn
in a musty hutch,
a rabbit warren.
The fool keeps sniffing.
Meanwhile a rifle
settles on a pair of
elbows. I sing
with all my being
but I sense
I praise my unmaking.
it’s how they learn.
I strip myself down.
I rhyme. I return.
Some mating calls,
fall to adoring
& reckon their
I praise my making.
Whoever made me,
listen: Next time
make my flesh less
fleshly if you mean
for me to scorn it.
Amit Majmudar is a novelist, poet, translator, essayist, and diagnostic nuclear radiologist. Majmudar’s latest books are Godsong: A Verse Translation of the Bhagavad-Gita, with Commentary (Knopf, 2018) and the mythological novel Sitayana (Penguin Random House India, 2019). A historical novel, Soar, is forthcoming in India from Penguin Random House in 2020, as well as a poetry collection in the United States, What He Did in Solitary (Knopf, 2020). His novel Partitions (Holt/Metropolitan, 2011) was shortlisted for the HWA/Goldsboro Crown Prize for Historical Fiction and was named Best Debut Fiction of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews, and his second novel, The Abundance (Holt/Metropolitan, 2013), was selected for the Choose to Read Ohio Program. His poetry has appeared in The Best of the Best American Poetry 25th Anniversary Edition, numerous Best American Poetry anthologies, as well as the Norton Introduction to Literature, The New Yorker, and Poetry; his prose has appeared in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2017, The Best American Essays 2018, and the New York Times. His first poetry collection, 0',0', was shortlisted for the Norma Farber Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America, and his second collection, Heaven and Earth, won the Donald Justice Award. He also edited an anthology of political poetry, Resistance, Rebellion, Life: 50 Poems Now (Knopf, 2017). Winner of the Anne Halley Prize and the Pushcart Prize, he served as Ohio's first Poet Laureate. He practices diagnostic and nuclear radiology full-time in Westerville, Ohio, where he lives with his wife, twin sons, and daughter.