Ananta Madhavan


The Complaints Book


Outside the Celestial Railway Station
There is an office where
They have a big, black book,
Bound in leather, for complaints.

It was on a stand like a lectern,
Where-on I found an inkwell and a pen
With a broad nib that moved on paper
Like a dancer on ice.

I wrote in the book,
Loving the blue, thick paper.
I wrote a page and a half
About the lack of telephones
On the Celestial Railways.

When i finished, the Clerk,
A noble figure in red surplice
Bowed and thanked me for my pains.
I glanced at my handiwork
And turned aside. At once

Three scribes converged upon the book,
Scrolls in hand, and copied out
My fulminations. These extracts
Were manifolded and dispatched
By waiting Couriers to unknown offices
Far far away. Past the throngs

They ran, the Couriers, winning
A way for themselves with sharp elbows,
Crying,
'Defer, defer
To the Courier,
The Courier of Complaints.'


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Submitted: Friday, February 07, 2014
Edited: Saturday, February 08, 2014

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

1966. When young, I was influenced by some of Franz Kafka's haunting parables.

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