Samyak Shertok | May 6, 2015


The Kathmandu sky sliced with unlive

wires. Highways broken like bread

or a body. The Vishnu Temple: a pile

of sandalwood beams & too many prayers.


After five hours of trying, when the call

finally goes through & I hear

my mother’s voice, I learn

how to unash my lungs.

As I ran for the open field

I heard the house crack.

The line rattles. Is it her voice?


All day in Tempe, the sky is leaden

with the weight of spring.

The wind whips

the desert willows & Mexican blue palms.

A few drops of angled rain pelt

my window & then it stops.

Somewhere behind the bougainvillea,

Phoebe, tired of waiting for me to bring her food,

must be plotting a pigeon-ambush.


On Facebook, yet another picture:

the bust of a man in the ruins

of Kasthamandap. His breath

gnarled into the sal branches.

In this raw footage

shot from Swayambhunath:

How a city goes down & rises

in a pillar of ash.


Dear Himalayas, this morning I have nothing

to offer you. Not even a butter lamp

for your unwinged Garuda

or your one-thousand-year-old gods

now cursed to an exhale.

I sit at my desk & stare at the paper

white as the song of the earth

as it splits to womb so many Janakis.

Unable to find words, I write

& rewrite the silence.

My bones caw.

I tremble

until prayer becomes my body.


Samyak Shertok holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. He is a Visiting Poet at the Mayo Clinic, where he, after interviewing the palliative patients and their families, writes poems for them as lyric medicine. He was the winner of the first edition of La.Lit’s Writing Nepal: A Short Story Contest.

One response to “Aftershocks”

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