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Poem: Chillum 

I take great pleasure in watching the sadhu
load his chillum. Smoke from
the fire drifts back
into the cave before
curling out around its blackened
mouth. The sadhu’s motions
are precise and full
of grace that comes
from certain
types of voluntary
deprivation. His fingers
knead the hash
into tobacco, packing
the cylinder, the end of which
he wraps in cheesecloth
soaked in water. Lifting coal
from fire, he holds it
in his palm, with a puff pares
ash from ember, hands
formed upward in a living
temple, he places it
precariously atop
invokes the blessing
of the great god Shiva
and draws so deeply
it is fierce—
expels, choking
a genie
of thick
white
smoke.

Speaking of...

  • A poem by Kenneth Wapner.

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