#DesiReads: Amish Trivedi reads from his poetry collection, FuturePanic

Desi Books Ep 60 w/ Amish Trivedi Desi Books

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Hello and welcome to Episode 60 of Desi Books—news and views about desi literature from the world over. I’m your host, Jenny Bhatt. Thank you for tuning in.

Today, in the #DesiReads segment, we have Amish Trivedi reading from his latest poetry collection, FuturePanic.


Amish Trivedi is the author of three books. FuturePanic is his latest poetry collection. His poems have been published in American Poetry Review, Bennington Review, New American Writing, Kenyon Online, Typo and other places. His music reviews have appeared in The Rumpus, and his poetry reviews can be found in Jacket2, Sink Review, and others. He is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Delaware, has an MFA in poetry from Brown, and a PhD in English and critical theory from Illinois State University.

Futurepanic is a Four Quartets for the millennial set. Infused with the nervous energies of the past half decade, when living with macro-tragedy and dread have become more ingrained in day-to-day functioning than ever, Trivedi’s third book of poetry employs a deliberate and plaintive lyric mode across five unfolding sections to wrestle with how much of the psyche one can let untether before the self faces annihilation. The poet confronts the gathering terrors that creep forth from simultaneously pondering vast, heady concepts like time and futurity in conjunction with more localized, proximate concerns like whether one will face the looming specter of a mass shooting the next time one goes to a box store, concert, movie theater, grocery store, school, or other public space. In FuturePanic, Trivedi questions whether the collective grief and guilt of our shared transgressions and fears are all-consuming or if we can use humanity’s boundless potential for creativity to rouse an alternative we’ve never known enough of to embrace fully—a moment’s peace

Amish Trivedi’s FuturePanic is his third book of poetry and is a Four Quartets for the millenial set. A reading by the poet in #DesiReads @DesiBooks

The transcript of this excerpt is also up on the Desi Books website.

And now, here’s Amish Trivedi.


[Excerpted with permission from Futurepanic by Amish Trivedi. Copyright © 2021 Amish Trivedi.]

from “Constructor”

There will be no time 
when there is nothing left 
to measure it, bystanders in space 

where everything gets
erased. Time will be in chaos 
until it isn’t, a negation of 

understanding of the universe. Space is a negation 
of being, time a negation of space, nothingness 
a negation of time, consciousness a negation 

of nothingness. My panic 
is not a nanomachine that can’t stop itself— 

it’s a human with a gun 
that won’t. 

My panic is not a bug or bot 
that replicates— it’s a human 

with nothing to replicate for. And my panic 
is not the sun expanding 

and boiling away our seas— it’s that we’re doing it 
ourselves and to every other being 

and we can’t stop ourselves from want. 
That much I remember. And memory is a fetish relived 

until it cannot be, until it fades or gets blown out 
the back of the head.

It’s not the roads but f-stops 
between them. The things that terrify only breed 

in moonlight, preferring 
to linger when the irradiation 

halts. I grow fast 
but always sideways, 

getting meaner as night wears on. We’re 
drifting into oncoming traffic 

but the lights keep me 
from saying it. 

Not everyone can be shot, 
but that stops no one 
from trying. The scene 

tricks me into revealing 
a before self 

when I need to hide it 
most: this is the undoing 

of a society that will not hold
for other moments, pretending 
it lives where

conceptions of time 
have faded out. There is no stopping 

because there is nothing else 
to do: the

crisis point is coming and 
fibers are debriding and 
only the spectacle will do.

Unveiled with an eye 
closed. This is not 
the path but the way 

of unbeing, of altering. Alternating, 
abandon. An island 

that stills the waves. Even the most jaded 
feel a spike, the vein tapped and running. I 
am obfuscation 

in the guise of a language that

I cannot help but translate. These are my wings, 
my umlauts.

A saturation suspended 
in the interlung space, 
an infiltration 
that does not go unnoticed 
in the codex 
of undoing. How the water 

remains settles the only mystery 
in a scene dedicated to the waxing 
epistasis of language. The time nightmare 

is even more inventive 
when the subject never awakens into
the unending terror before them.

The mountain— the sins 
that burden 

are unapparent, untraceable
back to exact action. A bed of arrows 
emerges from vision, 

a world opens 
and all spectrums of urbeing
observed. Too late: the clouds 
are coming over and 

darkness is all that eludes, unwilling
to hold back. Entrenched 
in a war with no weapons or 
disdain for one another, I will

climb until the air is too thin to
assuage my grief.

Deeply in love with
a life that’s not mine,
time’s saturation belies the
flickering nature of
grief. Raw the wound
that unties the fingers 
from one another:

the next nail is
available for transplant. The spectre
imagination breeds with
buries everything else 
undeniably. The future 

holds a space I
cannot have, only 
fetishize and imagine
as mine.

All options seem to be
forms of denial wrapped in
language I’ve never

A song that is my brain 
screaming to me,

the unconscious’s attempt
at playing back a memory tied
to new terror. Without known

antecedent, there is imagined 
generation, the well that
sprays again. Forgetting

the things we hear
because there is
so much of it,

we cannot recall or
record: what was
true before is only

a fog that sheds
itself to grow

” . . .Forgetting
the things we hear
because there is
so much of it,

we cannot recall or
record: what was
true before is only
a fog . . .”
~Amish Trivedi from FuturePanic, his latest poetry collection #DesiReads @DesiBooks

Not worried
for me but I am 
that, too. The sense

that every idea’s 
been had, all roads 
on a map already
driven, I plan for
anything other than survival.

Dreams become a second acquired
self when the first cannot 

I had to
want to live but I am
prisoner in a house 
that never got built.

Can’t even bring myself
to ask myself to bear
myself. I have refined my
bystanding, matured it.

Until I know the fall,
I will not accept that
gravity pulls on me.

I am false witness to 
my own catastrophes. Tell
me after I am out
of air.


Crisis is stop-time— auxon— 
parts move and replicate 
without propulsion. The clanking 
replicator, artificial self, remainder 
of misprision 
from long before.  If 

you can see me, 
I can see you too. Listen— 
I speak 
as clearly as I can. This silence is unnecessary, 
as is action: we are the auxon 
of a play so many acts in 
that our curtain is falling.

Panic is other people—

My fear isn’t dying— 
it’s that whatever life is 
isn’t much 
in a universe that goes on

The mechanism fires 
until it does not. Heart rate increases until 
it stops: tree or wall or river 

is to car. The moments of urgency. The heart beats 
until it’s stopped. A panic overtakes, seizes up, 
pressure chokes. Veins constrict, 

shred. Blood flow restricted 
is more force, destruction arriving, pre-
configured in a history of crises. When 

working correctly, the stress subsides, pressure equalizes.

A slight panic is the first

But if crisis never stops. But if crisis 
never resolves itself. But if crisis is all 
there is. There are no resolutions, 

only more crises coming on. Sometimes 
things are born in fire, 

are of the ashes.

“But if crisis never stops. But if crisis 
never resolves itself. But if crisis is all 
there is . . .”
~Amish Trivedi from FuturePanic, his latest poetry collection #DesiReads @DesiBooks

To obsess over time is a fetish— to whisper into it, another. The future 
is a fetish that oppresses 

and when there is no future, the present 
oppresses instead. When the present oppresses, the past 

is idealized, its entries 
into memory a fetish. I am tickled by memory 

as the past cannot see 
what is not there: the absence 
of the spectre of the future.

I am being
buried alive. I
didn’t know
that we die
in pieces.

The body revolts against its housing
the science of my lenses and nails.

In my sexual fantasies, I’m a capitalist.

A desire to be interred in chalk, in a math 
of revolutions, another reason to remain, abjure artifacts.

The reasons for being quiet diminish us.

The future is oppressive 
in two ways: when there is no future 

and when the future 
is overwhelmingly certain, if 
parallax or intangible.

Whatever hides beyond crisis is crisis

and panic and panic a panic which will not stop 
until the moment lapses, until what is beyond the future 
becomes known, acknowledged.

The leaves are falling but I am 
not afraid because I know 
they will be cover me— there will be 
no discovery or recovery.

Everything about everyone else
is about me too. I cannot

believe the world exists when I
close my eyes

or leave a room. By being in
my sight, you are indentured

because I can’t unsee—
I speak below a whisper

until my voice 
is heard.

My toes curl at the thought
of the world going on without me

so I make sure it won’t.
The marks across 

an expressionless face—
eyes that search 

for a remnant thread: being
is trying to avoid all the reasons

for undoing the stitches that
tie the tarp down and keep it

from drowning everyone else
who wanted to just stay dry.

Relapse again or beg
to see the edges of the frame, even 

if an image floats off 

The mind returns to shock
because it is the only rush

that living provides

The way out was lost 
in the abstraction

of speech, which only 
distances to avoid rebuilding. There

were last steps but anyone 
who knows what they are

gets voted out.
Spectacle is the medium through

which everything is experienced. I
cannot offer more because everything

outside was stripped away and that
is all I ever was.

Absence leaves a remainder, 
ditches or the deluge coming 
into place so that nothing

is sustainable in a future
that’s not for me. A beacon 

stands where remainder 
exists, miles off shore and lighting 

the sea brightly. Everything
is a fabrication, a manipulation 

that does not scatter when 
light refracts off of it. In the distance 
crying, somewhere in the background 
of an epiphany that makes it 

possible to 
dither. I am 

culpable in a heist 
where I am also
the alibi.

Fearing panic remains 
unimagined and a typical day sustains 
itself through malaise. Ideology
is the perception of a still sea 
where there never was 
any water at all. Everything 
is nothing

until it overtakes me,
making me swerve into traffic 
that’s been building for miles. The headlights 

are calling and I’m strapped down 
tight. The crash 
is my fetish and I will not
pull away.

There’s a signal from across 
the yard that says to 
acknowledge silence. There 
is always an excuse to burn 
everything down. Do not tease 
with a flag, unfurl. Fly it so
the names stay engraved and 
the corrupted memory pure. The 
dark wood ceases, injecting meaning 
into itself, being. Off 
center, tangential forces 
which believe only in their own 
authority. There’s too much 
nihilism to make anything work and
not enough to invent denial. Trapped 
in ideology because anything else 
is certain to form chaos within. 

The lines are arbitrary, there to 
keep you from crossing 
into a traffic of your own.

Amish Trivedi’s FuturePanic is his third book of poetry and is a Four Quartets for the millenial set. A reading by the poet in #DesiReads @DesiBooks

You’ve been listening to episode 60 of Desi Books—news and views about desi literature from the world over. I’m your host, Jenny Bhatt. Thank you for tuning in. Today’s #DesiReads segment was with Amish Trivedi reading from his latest poetry collection, FuturePanic.

Episode 61 will be up shortly. Follow on Twitter @desibooks, Instagram @desi.books, Facebook @desibooksfb. Tag the accounts if you have requests or suggestions. Please go to the website, desibooks.co, if you’d like to sign up for the free, weekly newsletter. And please share this via social media to support the poet and help raise the tide of South Asian literature. Thank you.

Stay healthy, keep reading, and write well.

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