Mani Rao is the author of seven books of poetry, has published essays
and poetry in Almost Island, Tinfish, Wasafiri, Meanjin, Fulcrum and
WestCoastLine, and in anthologies by WW Norton, BloodAxe and Penguin.
Translations of her poems have been published in seven languages. She
was Visiting Fellow at the 2005 and 2009 Iowa International Writing
Program, and won their 2006 writer-in-residence fellowship. Poems in
this selection are from the manuscript "Ghostmasters." She lives in the
U.S.A., India and Hong Kong. More on

End of Scene

We don't see each other any more
Was it art for art's sake
or did we get some poems out of it

"Until part do us death"
Until we exhaust all endings

Finally singing sol o

Was supposed to give you the white kiss
But the bloody roses
At the lorist
Dragons with pretty eyes

Your body suits you best
Conducted like a plant
All pores at once
Posture of trunk of leaves the
Petrifaction moment

Your uality

Careful as you shape the air
Where my breasts used to be
Inhabitation's a habit

I arrive on the 18th

2 days is what we have
Same as 20

Spring upon your fingertips
Pert buds
Bee balanced on proboscis
Uh oh in a spool
Now the tips are green
Now the tips are pink
Now the tips are white


Red September path covered in kisses
Autumn abandon

Abandoning what you ask as your teeth strip and gnaw
my flesh
Bruise-clouds flambéed for days
Stained as if I had gone berserk in a perfumery
Trying on too much


Was in the ear foyer
Stray voice

Now sleeps on the bed
House pet

Diver followed curve of floor
Did not see the sudden lunge

If we met now I would surely die
And I would surely if we didn't

Everywhere you are not
Your exact absence

Where does it hurt


Are you cold or hot

Suspicious at the goat's steady eyes and reminded of an
early lesson the executor stayed his hand
If the eyes are not rolling in fear the heart may be found
Could be a priest in disguise

Bird Union

What's your name
I asked

Said it in surroundsound

No primadonnas among us
One sounds like another of its kind

And doesn't mind the rhyme
It's the art of singing in a choir

Even when singing solo
Petition re petition

A signature campaign
Second sopranos

Clamoring to be first

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