Snail Trail Press

Nanya Jhingran

False Alarm

having angled across the five way intersection, splayed as a child’s reckless palm, having crossed the boba shop, recent resident of streets terraformed to accommodate tracking devices & DNA tests, while attempting to skirt the sewer on 5th & Pine, steaming putrid tales of nights lit by the siren-bright of reds & blues, the stale heat of city’s breath sends doubt up my spine, whispers: did you unplug your hair straightener this morning? across the street, the sun reddens against abandoned high rises, the whole scene a hangnail, inflamed. i consider turning around but hedge my bets to the sink’s granite plum to hold the rising heat until night-time. work awaits & how does one choose between the possibility of a charred cat & a lost job? in urdu class, we learn to stitch words into compound relation such as alam-e-mulaqat and hukumat-e-dard and A asks for help with combining the words for pleasure and pain to say masochism: ishq-e-zulm & I remember a boy in college telling me how his father left him sleeping in a West Virginia cave in the middle of the icepick night to take shelter in the car. how he strained the dark, counting every coarsened ridge in the unseeable eye of the cave.

Sensing Collateral

“Woman in Costume” Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA ribboned off at arm’s length in the soft dark of exhibition at five feet’s safety i am held by your arm & the rose no: the rose & your neck high above an eye buzzes red graphs the line between your eyes & my breasts, my eyes & your breasts. by a hair my eye is pulled is trained to averse its barely hidden presence. now: i enter rooms: no, now: rooms clock my entry & risk unfurls in the dark of synapse at the bus stop the houseparty & the crowded kitchen i am pulled incessantly to gallery: my body, no: only the carrying of eyes i eye & am eyed lasers circle my edges like a tin can carve a mouth for emptying under their hover under your satinate folds i spill my thirst for flesh thick with sweat into the fuzz borne nape of your neck i eye & am eyed & when i leave for the outside i peer into the framed windows & the windows peer back, no: the windows cancel looking yes: the windows are all eyes under the satinate folds of their lids & when i leave the outside i appear into the framed window & i undress fold after fold my body an animal easily no: my body my animal uneasy blood coursing under skin of sight.


America taught me if you want happiness, you don’t have to have money, you just have to spend it. Then that slimy silverfish laid its eggs along my hemlines & made empty tunnels of my most rabid longings. On the train having shamefully caught a stranger’s gaze I found myself ravenous to glimpse the shape of their contracted emptiness. I hopped from hole to hole skipping over & around felled pasts, lives dug out & pushed asunder for cosmetic & fiscal renovations. Shiny new apartments with fixtures delicate as a baby’s butt roasting unoccupied all afternoon in the summer sun. It was a hoax, anyway, the illusive vacancy & the bodies flesh being wrung out for its filling. Later, my most sensitive zones stripped down by overuse, my miles accumulated and exacted, carbon breath whistling along the must of my unbodied underground, I found no geography in which to lay my eaten-away insides which was not itself a valley drilled and enacted, poured into and out, burnt oil clogging the bloodstream.

Window Shopping

Last night, having fled the house
after fighting with you over
the last of the pickles, I decided
enough is enough, I will buy
a house of my own. Then all the lasts
that accrue to me will be guaranteed
to be mine. I will never again have
to strain my wrist on a closed door
only to find the stout glass jar empty
but for its Nickelodeon tinted juice,
the last pickle no longer even a whisper,
long plucked from its amniotic cavity
by fingers careful and callous as though
culling a blood-ripe apple off
a neighbor’s tree in the quiet inkwell
of November’s night. I will buy
a house of my own and so in the tradition
of this nation-state, secure my goods
against falling prey to another’s moonlit
hungers. I was carried from the house
by the force of this thinking for more
than ten blocks, until I stood
at the apex of the old stone
bridge over the railroad tracks.
On top left horizon, tangerine light
was wafting off the tall blue house
on the bluff, the one you pointed to
last Sunday when we were out plucking
our favorite details from the endless
display of houses, lovely little details
from which we stitched nearly a whole
house for our future, the one you said
looked like it probably had nice door
knobs. I strained hard as I could
at its citrus eyes hoping to catch
a glimpse of the shape or color
of those knobs but saw only closed
doors, left untouched for how long,
no way to tell. I turned around, then,
to come home to you, thinking only
of the small of your hand, wrapped
snug and certain around some
unknowable fixture.

nanya jhingran is a poet, scholar & teacher from Lucknow, India currently living by the coastal margin of the Salish Sea, on the unceded lands of the Coast Salish People (upon which the city of Seattle was built). They are a PhD Candidate in Literature and Culture and a Teaching Assistant in American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. Their research explores diasporic poetics, sexual violence, woman of color feminisms, and feminist decoloniality in international law. When not reading & writing, they are most likely gathering friends around a campfire or a dinner table.