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I sleepwalked through the city on an emerald

brick road, feet scraping a rough-cut

of stories that do not glitter like gold.

Six monuments sizzled in the dark

spitting flames on a trail

that sneaked through shop windows

and began to set sail

over the glassy seas

the glassy seas

where spells cannot be broken…


I Phoenix: cast from the wires of a bird cage


Her tale rose from the ashes of old mothers,

flew with a wingspan of a 1000 chains,

landed on multicoloured ground

that sucked on a plinth raised high to alloy prey

and dropped eggs that birthed new cities —

hatched, kissed and cracked open

to let the light in.


II Elephant: forged from the maharaja’s gold


An elephantine dream

swung wild to the wind

settles in the mud and the water of our homes,

the mud and water from our food,

the mud and water where the lotus looms,

above the towers and the turrets

of a fortress that will not fold.


III Tree: carved by the hands of slaves


A trunk is a trunk weather stuck

on an elephant’s face or in the mud,

dwells in forests piped from precious air

passed from mouth-to-mouth

to breath and be and balm

the paper cuts from jungle books

and skin layered in urban scars.


IV Nest: soldered to a spike


I climbed into a nest fallen hard

from a tree that had choked

out a song from a bird

that wouldn’t sing.

Cocooned in a hex of twigs and cement

my breath fell

asleep to a downtown lullaby.


V Spark: cut by a silver slash of sun


Soft quavers flew from my ears

like sparks from a mind

electric and wired

to a magic music machine.

Bright lights, big city

shine down from my baby’s head

in a flash of two toned fontanelle.


VI Wizard: a holograph clings to a pedestal


Resurfaced by tarmacked fingers and toes,

the trail returns us to where we began

without a cat or a hat or a spell or a wand

Don’t look for the wizard

Don’t look for the wizard

Just follow the double yellows

down Stoney Stanton road.


When I awoke to the city it was not greener

than the other side, but the colours of the night

had painted out my eyes, lined my skull

with a new type of vision:


I saw the phoenix pride,

the elephant fly,

trees became friends

and nests became song,

sparks became birds

like black morning stars


everywhere, everywhere, everywhere…


It was the Wizard’s will, twitching

somewhere behind a curtain.


© Sujatha Menon 2021

IMAGE_Sujatha Menon.jpg
IMAGE: Paul Windridge
The Wizard of CovSujatha Menon
00:00 / 03:33



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