ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

A journal for poetry, criticism, reviews, stories and essays published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998.


Four Poems by SS Prasad


Sierpiński Gasket

Sierpiński gasket
in a Sierpiń
ski gasket in a Sierp
iński gasket

so tiny, my eyes
cannot see, grow

they almost fill
the field of vision.

While circum
ambulating the serp
ent under the tree,
I had the vision

of a serpent on the vimanam
like a Sierpiński gasket.

“Sierpiński Gasket” was first published in Komma (No.2/2010), Sweden.




My jeweler uncle says certain things
go together, like gold and rose paper.
A square meal must end
with curd rice and pickle: two square
roots of any given number.

Vijay says, Asin, her brother and he
together form one happy family,
for they eat upma all the time.
Our destiny in plates, reader,
Vijay, Asin, her brother, you and I are one.

The driver says it's lunch break.
Your mother mixed milk with curd
rice lest it turned sour by noon.
Pickle right at the center, long
time meets short time in your lunch box.

Sudha Raghunathan says, for song add briga
only as much as pickle for curd rice.
For curd rice, add pickle only as much
as briga for song. Otherwise, you know what
will output music if not your mouth.

Your grandmother says, even if you grow up,
earn a title, may you keep
your lifestyle simple. Her blessings are preservatives.
If this poem is curd rice, may pickle
be the size of title.

GJV says he takes chappathi + thayir sadam
because he’s settled in Delhi
though he hails from South India.
You can’t imagine that equation inside,
for like me, you are a terkattiya.




If your husband gets Rs.708 only
which is 7080 after cuts,
how do you make the budget on the 1st?

If only a week into the month
and in the store room, there’s no rice left,
how do you imagine Annachi will accept
money within brackets?

If the money lender threatens to throw out
andas and gundas, and your husband
is at home, why do you hide him in the room
like a whole pumpkin in a plate of rice?

If the milkman moos, you promise to pay him soon,
and if the newspaper boy crows, you promise to pay him, too.
With money for one, how can you book two tickets?

If your daughter develops an interest
in English prose, but for R.K.Narayan books
what can you afford, TLS or Reader’s Digest?

If your son demonstrates his biking skills
to the sub-inspector of police
by drawing a pattern of 8
and midway through the month, says pi-pi
like a nadaswaram vidwan adjusting his pipe,
from where will you conjure the bribe?

If Puliyur Saroja visits your home
as a surprise and you have no ghee
in the bottle, only Dalda, no oil,
how will you impress with bajji or sojji?

Madame, if income is 8 ananas,
expense 10 bananas,
how will you make ends meet?


Clothes lines

As students pass on question papers
in the exam hall, your sisters-in-law pass
clothes on. At all points in time, a cloth
hangs mid-air. You maintain a force
like the Sun keeping planets in place.

Your neighbour’s clothes lines too, converge
and diverge. Of these pairs, which is yours?

Concurrent Lines picture

On concurrent lines, you write
the script of clothes, optimize the clip count:
use N+1 of them for N units,
bucket affixing clips with cutting vegetables:
slash N-1 times for N slices.

You recite Aditya Hridayam alongside
spreading out clothes, to complete the two chores in one,
infringe on your neighbour’s resources and yet
run out of space, hang the rest 
of clothes on the Yagi Uda array.

Climbing downstairs, you hum an Ilayaraja song
and decide to watch the Mallika Badrinath program,
if time permits, read Mangayar Malar
prior to siesta. You dream
the terrace transforms into a stringed instrument.

At 4 o’clock the clothes are dry,
you must fetch them. Yours isn’t a 9 to 6 job.
Then, you must make coffee, cook.
The clips you abandon on
the clothes lines return from 6 to 9.


S S Prasad is completing his manuscript, Sunday Morning: 50[(Math)Poems] on seeing Arun Kolatkar through the Raul Zuritan filter, from which the above poems are taken. His first book of poems, 100 Poems was published in 2008 by STD Pathasala, Chennai, India. Carla Bertola and Alberto Vittachio published his chapbook, Talking Circuits for the visual editions imprint of their magazine, Offerta Speciale (Italy) in 2014. His other works in progress include 0 Poems, kaleidopoems, Beyond Poems, Tamil Poems and Wedding Album. An avid blogger, Prasad maintains a kisukisu (gossip) blog on Indian poetry. Prasad lives and works in Bangalore, India.

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