All Material © Noel Harvey


Rounding the corner of a Bombay street I brake

for a Jain monk who has not seen my motorbike

or heard me,

though his sense is no less diligent than mine.

In quest of liberation

from the eternal round

the Jain reveres all beings.

he draws breath through gauze

to strain out gnats and camel flies.

Before each unshod step

he dusts the ground,

lest placing a foot

on the teeming earth

should take a life.

Each breath

each footfall on the path

reverberates with consequence,

not redemption.

I barely saw him

through my sullied Perspex screen,

a charnel ground of splattered things,

That once

 Hatched and

  Flew and

    Droned and

     Fed and


            Mated and


Never knowing (I presume)

what hit them.

In my dash for freedom,

I slay thousands with no reckoning.

I hope.


Why speak of 'my' wants, 'my' desires

'my' needs, as workmen I could hire

Or fire at will, like dull vassals

In liege to a Lord? This castle

is besieged, and miserable me

Mocked by Satan, in vain decrees

Henceforth I shall not be lustful,

Envious, greedy, or wrathful.

I do not decide in advance

To wake, to die, to sleep perchance

To dream 'my' thoughts. I bid them, Leave!

Yet they stay. Scream, Go! Yet they cleave.

For every one of 'my' longings

Lie demons waiting, prolonging

This craving in heart, guts and prick.

Compulsions invade the mind, like

Robbers desecrating a tomb.

Fuck you, Augustine, Hobbes, and Hume!

This will you claim is 'mine', and free

I do not have it. It has me.