Amit Majmudar

Three Dances | Early Warning System
June 24, 2016 Majmudar Amit

Three Dances

[from Godhra Poems]



In North Carolina

on the television

in my brother’s house


a silhouette

with an iPod


against a background

hot pink


It took me back to Bali

and a shadow

puppet Rama


with grief and rage

on a backdrop


by an oil lamp

that a monkey

once kicked over


burning down the theater


Burning down

like Godhra

where my friend the lawyer

Shaukat Ehsan

is still dancing

in the flames

of his burning Fiat

while a mob of twenty thousand

whistle at his moves

clapping their hands

spinning their axes



if only we could hear the secret music

of his pain

we could spin with him



Early Warning System


[from Godhra Poems]



I knew about the riots

the night before


when I started hearing

the fireflies







all around me in the smog of dusk

that already stank of tires

not yet burning






like light switches

all across our city


I tried to warn you, Qaidi

making fists

and shutting my eyes

and trying as hard as I could


but at last when my fingernails

throbbed with a pink glow

six blocks east of me

rose that monstrous



the sun

Amit Majmudar is a novelist, poet, translator, essayist, and diagnostic nuclear radiologist. Majmudar’s latest books are the poetry collection What He Did in Solitary (Knopf, 2020) and Godsong: A Verse Translation of the Bhagavad-Gita, with Commentary (Knopf/Penguin Random House India, 2018) as well as two novels published in India, Soar (Penguin Random House India, 2020) and Sitayana (Penguin Random House India, 2019). His novel Partitions (Holt/Metropolitan, 2011) was shortlisted for the HWA/Goldsboro Crown Prize for Historical Fiction and was named Best Debut Fiction of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews, and his second novel, The Abundance (Holt/Metropolitan, 2013), was selected for the Choose to Read Ohio Program. His poetry has appeared in The Best of the Best American Poetry 25th Anniversary Edition, numerous Best American Poetry anthologies, as well as the Norton Introduction to LiteratureThe New Yorker, and Poetry; his prose has appeared in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2017The Best American Essays 2018, and the New York Times. His first poetry collection, 0′,0′, was shortlisted for the Norma Farber Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America, and his second collection, Heaven and Earth, won the Donald Justice Award. He also edited an anthology of political poetry, Resistance, Rebellion, Life: 50 Poems Now (Knopf, 2017). Winner of the Anne Halley Prize and the Pushcart Prize, he served as Ohio’s first Poet Laureate. He practices diagnostic and nuclear radiology full-time in Westerville, Ohio, where he lives with his wife, twin sons, and daughter.