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Ramayana Western


Anvesh Jain

He had taken to calling himself Isolation Cowboy,
For fourteen days had begun to feel like fourteen years
Of window-sill exile. Cowboy knew a life outside windows,
Pueblo walls that hemmed and hummed and penitentiary noises: 
The gup and shup of voices a continent away, 
Sachin, sublime, on the T.V set downstairs,
April breezes that cur and whittle the trees, 
His closest cellmates. 

He had taken to calling himself Isolation Cowboy, 
For at sunsets he paroled the risen Stampede. Lassi
Mixed with moonshine at the parade grounds;
Cowboy mounted tuk-tuks and bucking three-wheelers
Pronounced thrivellers, for a shot at first-in-show. Jalebi 
Lassoes curl round and around deep-fried cul-de-sac 
Culprits, and Ranchlands sour sweetly in
Midnight rodeo sweat.

He had taken to calling himself Isolation Cowboy, 
For only he could divine the mystery and method of salvation
Amongst thousands of tessellated crosses that plagued his vision. 
Themed renewal, panic and pain swivelled and cobbled
All together like horseshoe. Cowboy yearned for the shed,
Dreads sky-static and five pines staring back at him, 
One too many for deadly horsemen, two too few
For deadly sins. 

He had taken to calling himself Isolation Cowboy, 
For even Smiling Buddha would not smile on him. 
Cowboy slept like sleeping Buddha, like Kumbhkaran
Rumbling, resplendent, and when awake, wrote 
Of marble facades on eternal river banks. 
Through the looking glass, like Valmiki or Tulsidas 
In the vernacular, the ideal man
Covets Ayodhya, abroad. 

He had taken to calling himself Isolation Cowboy, 
For the hills were ne’er close and not so far. Prairiegrass 
Darkened, coarse and withered, as if arson was committed here. 
Cowboy ate flecks of flame-spark snow, singing ditties
To red-thatched homesteads over the hills. Red-white rattlesnakes
Split the sunrise in half, empty compartments for scales,
Passenger to nowhere on man-made tracks, 
Winding and whirring. 


and winding. 

He had taken to calling himself Isolation Cowboy, 
For Cowboy leads monkey-armies over these hills. 
Cowboy slays demon-kings over these hills. 
Cowboy finds his Sita over these hills. 
O Laxman, where art thou? There Lanka
Is somewhere west of windows, past chuckwagon 
Mango trails; lost lotuses hang easy
Over these hills.  

Anvesh Jain is an undergraduate student of International Relations at the University of Toronto. His work has previously been published in the Literary Review of Canada, the London Reader, Adelaide magazine, and Vayavya. He is an Associate Editor at the Hart House Review. Visit his website for more information:

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