Made in IndiaI shave with a cheap straight razor these days. Stainless steel blade, imitation scrimshaw hilt, made in India. No disposables, overpriced Mach3’s, or sizzling electrics. I draw it out like a folding knife, drag it gently downward. The reason I use a straight razor is because my ex used to say that all men should know how to shave with one. All real men, at any rate. In fairness, it does make for a cleaner shave. I shear each bristle off like a regret, let them float in the steaming sink in reddish clumps, my cheeks and jawline suddenly naked in the rush of air. Might I shave like my father, with the same precision and care? I examine the face I keep hidden, smear disinfectant on the razor. This is a man’s instrument, and men should know how to use it, cheap and replaceable as it is. Stainless steel blade, imitation scrimshaw hilt and rust markings that blotch it like dried blood: reminds me of what my ex said, how she liked watching me shave, of what she liked in a man. Makes me want to be as stainless and steely as this blade, impossible as that is. ***
SunlightEarly sunlight re-uploads itself to an oil-black sky. Heat vaguely licks my face. Today just might be a good one. I drink some coffee Lavazza at full strength, bubbles in the froth like a cluster of spider eyes in close-up. I don’t know what I want or what I even need; just that I lack something. For now, I sit and sip coffee and just watch the sun work its slow magic over everything. Yeah, today just might be a good one. Later on, I watch a newscast about a squad of Israeli soldiers, how they gunned down fleeing civilians in the streets of Gaza, before posing for a group selfie with the corpses. ***
Petrochemical BluesStrait of Hormuz, 2019 The scent of blood and oil hangs heavy on the tide. A garbled wash of lats. and longs. crests the GPS in real- time, breakers claw at rocks below with salt-talons oozing back to the depths; an undersea pipeline is punctured, ejaculating technicolor slicks into green bay water. Make no announcement; they already know you’re here. Smoke your pre-watch cigarette, watch an early sun grill the horizon to the engine’s operatic murmur, the air curdled by diesel fuel. Wind in frenzy, the flag flutters its false tocsin; you watch with interest as the first underwater blast funnels pillars of smoke on a cooked wind, tinge of death amidships, each elemental nerve heated, hammered, irradiated and cooled to scrap iron, by a distress call’s crackle. By midday, it’s neither the time nor the place to be here, the tide bubbling like a newly-struck oil field; blue-black delirium gushes like ballast through the Gulf’s narrow mouth, the only exit and the only entrance you know. A U.S.N. destroyer is now underway and global attention briefly anchored alongside as you snuff your cigarette against a sea of flammable odds. ***
Portrait PhotoThe portrait photo, product, greyscale, shows us nearly touching and wearing our best smiles, the ones brought out only for occasions such as this: leaving aside your disdain and denials under the lighting equipment’s stark radiance, you look smart, confidently agleam, one hand clasped on my shoulder. I wear my best shirt; you once said it brought out my eyes, unbuttoned at the collar. Frozen together in posed bliss within the frame, we look as if a screwdriver has tinkered with the corners of our mouths ’til our grins are suitably bright. But, in fairness, we do look good together. Photogenic. #InstaReady. But it’s not destined for any album, to be interred on the cloud somewhere, or to even have pride of place on some future grand mantelpiece, when we’re both just memories to each other. No, it stays on its own, facing into whatever soft-focus oblivion neither of us really wanted. But I’m being needlessly mawkish, and anyway, time heals all, so let it end here. ***
Daniel Wade is a poet and playwright from Dublin. In January 2017, his play The Collector opened the 20th anniversary season of the New Theatre, Dublin. In January 2020 his radio drama Crossing the Red Line was broadcast on RTE Radio 1 Extra. Daniel was the Hennessy New Irish Writing winner for April 2015 in The Irish Times, and his poetry has appeared in over two dozen publications since 2012, incl. Cassandra Voices, The Missouri Review, The Agonist, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Live Encounters, Fresh Air Poetry, The Galway Review, A New Ulster, Banshee Press and Zymbol.
Read more poetry on Bengaluru Review: “I am an old harmonium”: Three poems by Sekhar Banerjee “I sank a marriage of stone and water”: Four poems by Sophia Naz ‘It was spring and we suckled dreams’: Four poems by Linthoi Ningthoujam