From the Anthology 

Breaking the Silence

In the bar

by Varun U. Shetty

By the tracks

an orphan building stands-

the air is still,

charged with ammonia.

In and out

through the dark stalls

men wander and wait

and hold and cum-

I run

out toward the light.

The slow one, I am

tossed and punched.

Slowly, the pain withers-

no one sees

the bruise on my back or

the shame in my bones.

Almost 9000 miles away,

it is humid-

the bar at Burgundy and St. Ann

is dark:

I burn fear with vodka, I take

a whiff of sweat. And piss-

that sharp smell has shed

its consequence.

He’s on his knees,

he’s on his back,

and he- his mouth is full,

he can barely breathe.

In a dimly lit sea

of inebriated darkness

I inhale, I touch, I learn

a naked, pungent freedom.

Author Bio

Varun U. Shetty (he/him) is a writer and intensivist. He grew up in Mumbai and lives with his two partners and dog in Shaker Heights. His work has previously been published in The Wire, Olney Magazine, The Bangalore Review, and Goa Today.