August 2012

August 2012

i.
4 poems

Moon
Shilpa Venky

She points to the sparkling night sky
stretched tight across space

And with her little fingers screams,
“Moon”.

“Moon”, “Moon”, she says
And turns her gaze toward me in amazement.

How do I tell her that the moon shys short

Of a wonder that stands at two feet in
height, right beside me?

That light years are grasped in a second
when she wraps her tiny hand around my finger.
Here and There 
From Fakirnama by Surojit Sen
You want guarantees,
I can offer you none.

Like a subatomic particle
I exist in two different states simultaneously

I am wave
And I am particle

And come into being only for an instant that disappears before it has decided to stay.


I’m already planning to leave you before I have even met you.
I’m already preparing to destroy before I have even created.


This is my tragedy and this is my bliss

I am clothed in contradictions
Like matter and anti-matter

I am immersed in inconsistency


Before I have committed

I know I will deceive

 


I cannot offer you what I do not possess
I cannot possess that which you want me to offer to you.

To sustain anything is a challenge I am unable to meet
Every second explodes with a million alterations

That invade my being

And that make it quiver.


How can I offer you a guarantee
When I have never known what it means?
You

You feel safe in your own skin, you whispered under your breath

As your eyes looked into the distance
And you sat hesitantly on the verge of beauty
Like a drop of water about to tumble from a leaf that sways gently in the wind.

You are, who you are, you wanted to shout out
As life sneakily found her way into every pore of yourself
And you sat in anticipation, waiting to marinate yourself with possibilities that remain to be fulfilled
Like a mountaineer for whom base camp holds the promise of the summit.

Why pretend, you murmured…,
Your gaze looked back into you
And found your soul
Dancing in elegant patterns of innumerable colours

Like the star that has long disappeared
Leaving behind only the trace of light
You too have left behind the simulation that was you
In order to find you

What did you find?
Grace sitting crossed-legged on the palm of your hand
Wonder dancing freely on the stage of your eye
Risk in possibility seducing your being
And like lightning that has struck the calm skies
You are electrified with the pulse of life
With the jolt to experience
With the wonder of the realisation
That the universe is contained in every minute.

Untitled
She
pulled away from him

Gently
but with a gentlessness that stung
Her
eyes scanned the room
As
she wondered what she was looking for
In a
minute her mind reeled in all directions
And
she held his hand
As
if to say that she didn’t know what else she should do
 
She
reluctantly smirked

At
herself
One
second pulling away from him, then drawing closer
A
pang of guilt took hold of her body
And
she tried violently to shake free
Like
a lover who has betrayed
She
felt remorse
But
no regret
She
felt apologetic
But
impenitent
And
she asked herself

What
betrayal was?
How
is one to be faithful to another
When
one is infidel to oneself?
She
shook her head in dismay
‘I
cannot go on’ she thought
‘Like
this’
 He
looked at her as if her thought had reached out and spoken to him
‘What
did he know?’ she deliberated
That
she didn’t care
That
she didn’t want to care
That
like a feather floating in space riding on the back of the wind
She
too wanted to float
To
drift
To
soar
To
glide
To
go unnoticed by him
To
follow where life led her
To
chase the unknowable future
To
dare to dream
    Because
she finally knew
   In
an unexpected instant
    That
he wasn’t holding her hand
     He
was holding captive her soul
 

ii.
poem

Renewal of Faith                                                                                                                        
Ruma Chakravarty

Parents
leaving today,


The pain has been blunted,
At least I have stopped wanting to be very ill;
Or may be have a little episode of some sort –
A flood, a storm, anything,
That grounds their desire to
Leave me and go.
That happened too!

When the cycle of arrivals first started,
Like luggage on the airport carousel

Parents in the air now,
Coming back in the cab.
Leaning back and closing my eyes,
Thinking of days gone past.
Even, I hate to admit, wallowing a bit,
In invented self pity.
Suddenly coming back to earth!
Do you have family here?
Young Indian cabbie…
Shy, tentative, eager to talk,
Ruma the mother kicks in.


How old are you? How long have you been here?
Do you know where the Gurudwaras are?
You have got to be kidding me…
Drive a cab while back home
Your father runs his own farm!
Five tractors and 220 buffalo?
My best friend is married to a Mona girl
Really? I will get you the photos of the gurus
And I will make you some sarson da saag!
Bhabhi….he is so shy and far away
Soon, he is telling me all
About the day he left and the whole village
Was supposed to see him off
But they didn’t when he showed up shorn
and without turban the night before
At the Langar in his honour.


And so on and so forth,
He talks, I listen, and then I listen some more
Finally in my street
Pulling up in front of my door
I, sit up, ready to pay
He looks away, shy no more
You do not have to, not today
Looking at his handsome profile, half lit
I want to ask why, but decide against it
In my mind, the pain gone for the moment
Without knowing, and free from intent
He made my day and renewed my faith

iii.
5 poems


Poetry in Exile
Sunandan Roy Choudhury

Poetry does
not walk with me
I look for
poetry in places
In bazaars,
markets, rail stations
Poetry has
turned away her face
From me
It’s been a
long time.
Can’t see
poetry even in paddy fields
There too is a
crowd of the dead
Had thought,
once the train
Speeds by in a
thud
Will look
through the kash flowers
And see the
machine demon
 
But that
chance too
Poetry did not
leave for me
Now the demons
of power
Have engulfed
the machine-demons
That’s why
poetry is feeling down today,
She has
decided
She will go
into exile.
Che’s Europe
1968 stands
still
Paris,
Frankfurt School
Europe of Mao
Tse Tung
The heat of
Naxalbari
Softly touches
the skin
A south wind
blows
Thin into the
jungle and Mahua
 
Revolution
charms
In an European
island
The fairy tale
hero
Holds my hand
We travel to a
land beyond
 
A society
without leaders
Men dead in
their souls
Women without
desire
The metro door
refuses to open
 
Night deepens
towards dawn
I return home
with Che
On the way he
asks,
“Haven’t you
buried Mao yet?”
Glass Walls
I was standing
between two
glass walls
Facing one and
my back
To the other
In front of me
Were teachers,
poets, intellectuals,
Activists,
animal lovers,
Anti-globalization
thinkers, ecological beings
Journalists,
academics,
Corporate
honchos, sleek page three women
I could see
them pressing
On the glass
hard
Calling out to
me
Inviting me to
join
Causes for a
better world
Conversations
for an evening
Of
entertainment and soul fulfillment
My back was
turned to
Another thick
glass wall
of statues of Einstein, Gandhi
Tagore and
Ramakrishna
telling me to
live
life in ways
that the
Buddha lived
Mohammed
preached
Christ died for
I kept pacing
up
And down in
the
Corridor
between the
Two glass
walls
There was
clean air
Light
atmosphere
Above me and
below
The body and
spirit
Felt light and
kept glowing
Till the end
of eternity
Nightwalk
You walked
into the evening
The evening
was nearly over
Friends and I,
we came out
Of the
watering hole
Maidan, Mayo
Road, monuments, tent hatched clubs
Calcutta’s
half-lit darkness
Keeps walking
towards the
Glows of faded
commerce
The sidewalk
on the other side
Was ours, yours
and mine
Walking in the
drizzle
Away from the
city
Old and New
Name changes
Nizam’s city
becomes
The provincial
capital of
Independent
India’s new state
The old lie
aside
In neglected
love
The new dazzle
and razzle dazzle
In the
arrogant mood of power and wealth
Lakes were
always thirst quenchers
Now too the
cranes arrive
Fish play
around
Nibbling at
plastic of the civilized man
The new
gradually fade into old
In the old,
one finds the new
I was walking
past an azaan
And asked
myself, ‘Is God old or new?’
Translated from the Bengali original
iv.
2 poems

0134.0508.
Mradul Sharma

i am tired of poetry. rudderless.
or maybe she is tired of me.
it’s not those sailing times anymore.
we have to find time. out of our busy schedules.
to see each other. yes. she too is busy.
finding better, suaver prospects. to endorse.
maybe the ones a little less indifferent.
i too have turned reluctant.
learning to let go of old encumbrances.
it’s not forgetting you know. just letting go.
knowing that nothing lasts forever.
perhaps.

alkjsdhlkhpoetry is bad songs.
bad memories.
it’s a poor understanding of the world.
poetry is bad sense of humor.
it is an incomplete way of communicating.
incapable of listening.
poetry is not good at money.
neither at forgetting.
it is all that is wrong with the world.

v.
poem

Absence 
Malvika Bhatnagar
With you by my side, I owned the world

your presence prod me ahead

to tread in territories never ventured into;

Together we won emotional wars,

Your support for me and mine for you

made us one soul in two cases.

My senses float in a fantasy assisted by your belief,

Your sudden absence made me see this all;

As slowly my mental peace seeps away

My inner calm gives way to an edgy person,

I look inside and find myself drifting away

Craving your silvery touch, your tinkling timbre,

Your rock-like endurance,

I grope around like a sightless person

Trying to find you in crowd of strangers

My heart shrivels up like roses without water

Cowering from even known tasks

My self-confidence crumbles

Yearning for you, my appetite shrinks

Making it difficult to swallow even a mouthful

My reliance on you outshines any other,

Drilling a hole in my heart,

your absence takes away me from myself…

vi.
2 poems

Gopika Nath
Being Untidy

Usually, I tidy
up before going to bed.

A ritual of
putting things in their places.

Even thoughts
are filed.

I never sleep without
removing my made up face.

Last night,
nestling against the crumpled heap

of discarded clothes;
a strange comfort I felt

hiding myself
in the chaotic folds.

Too tired to
pick up the mess

living had
created.

I pressed the remote and saw a movie

of someone
else’s life instead.


Unstill

I took a step
forward to descend the stairs

when she
called out – careful!

Alerted, I
shifted my gaze, looking

for her face
in the crowd below

when I saw
your nervous fingers

running
through a premature grey, that

once was a
dark and rebellious mane.

Clinking
glasses, kissing the air, speaking

with an
engagement I couldn’t feel,

the evening
seemed so unreal.

Yearning to touch, to
talk: you were just

a breath’s
reach away, but not a word

was said and
neither stole or shared

a glance nor
looked away.

As strangers,
we came together

in this
cocktail hour of pretence.

thought
An Inadvertent Voyeur

My fountain pen needed a new nib. In search of the pen-wala
on the pavement outside Regal Cinema, I trudged from Gurgaon
to Connaught Place. Pen repaired, I walked back to my car, parked
near Hanuman Mandir from behind Allahabad bank, passing
the newly built Cervantes Cultural Institute, down the adjacent alley
where an unusual scene unfolded. I couldn’t stop to savour its sights
and sounds, as the smell of garbage was offensive. But did notice
the lone man who tended it all; sorting glass from metal and bio-
degradable, stacking them in green municipality containers, neatly lined
by the side of the street, labelled in English. He wore a blood-red coat
over khaki pants and a pointing to the sky, dirty beige, knitted topi and
sat on a rickety chair, soaking in the fading afternoon sun, smoking a bidi.
Dogs of every mongrel shape and variegated hue were his companions,
snuggling in the warmth of garbage dumped. Especially drawn to the
toekadi’s[1] that lined the lane, brimming with fabric remnants, probably
from a nearby garment manufacturing unit, in each I spied a tightly curled up
pup, its head lost in the heap; a little mound of fur among the rags. The
melodious strains of Umaro Jaan’s “dil cheez kya hai, aap meri jaan
leejiye, bus ek baar mera kahan, maan leejiye”[2], filled the air.

I wanted to stop and stare, photograph each eccentric nuance
in visual memory, but my heels refused to pause their clicking stride
and the odour killed my curiosity. It isn’t a scene oft encountered
and was enchanted not for the way of life it afforded, but in realization
this too is one, albeit far removed from mine and yet not. For right there
in the middle of elegant steel and glass towers of corporate might,
alongside Delhi’s churi-wala bazaar [3]and famed Hanuman Mandir,
I was reminded by this topi-coat-wala[4] of my own frustrated struggle
through unkempt minds.Of living amongst those who haven’t yet learned
to clean up for themselves.

I wanted to ask about his family, where he was from, where he lived
and how he had come to take on this job; if he hated it or not.
I wondered why the labels were in English, how literate he was and
what language he spoke and wanted to know how he coped
with the smell: ploughing through dirt for his trade. I thought of the dogs
wrapped in cut ends and wondered what they’d say if I gave them
a lush blanket in a wicker basket bought from a luxury pet store.
Instead, strutting in my high heels, tight jeans, manicured hands and
fragile nostrils, I ran as fast as I could, for I knew what a life could be
where the stench was too much to bear.

[1] Locally made bamboo baskets
[2] From the Hindi film ‘Umrao Jaan’– “oh what is my heart worth, take my life instead, but just once, oblige me by doing what I may ask of you.”
[3] Bangle[glass] market
[4] Hat and coat man

vii.
poem

Her Beauty
Mithun Dey

The page hath not a single word

Nor a dot of pen
To cover the page, in verse by her
A spell cast over me
Her beauty
Artfully portrayed
Behold her beauty.

From endless ‘Diwali’ Light that comes in is beautifully diffused
In many forms, coversthe earth,
Light of her luminescent beauty
Her whispering just like tender waft
My ears say.

Dawning sun, her smile
Sunshine glints on the ocean
Her eyes
Oceanic trench
Her love
Behold her beauty.

viii.
short fiction

Grey Afternoons                                                                                                                  
Smitha Sehgal

Buzz of a thousands bees bereft of honey. Each one tried to look
different from the other in a desperate attempt. It was a hot Saturday
afternoon whence people flocked to air conditioned malls to escape the
sufferance of humid weather and a stressed out week. Parking spaces secured,
people walked up to elevator in triumph.
Mannequins exuded confidence, one hand placed on hip, daring and
inviting to a picture perfect world, ready to be bought off shelves. Exotic
cosmetics claimed to take one back to nature’s ageless best. Children could be
heard squealing with laughter at the play area. Happiness cost Rupees Eighty
per hour.  The large bubble bobbed on
precariously. 
Neon lights tried to coax themselves into cheer, announcing the ‘Food Court’ in red
and yellow flashes. A narrow corridor stank of trapped vapors of cooked
food.  The outer lounge was designed in
nursery theme with wooden stools and tables painted in red, yellow and
orange.  Yellow light shone upon a bright
yellow painted low stool and chairs. She slumped wearily. She loathed hovering
around, scanning for opportunities to dart to the nearest chair, beating
opponents to victory as the ex-occupants rose languidly after polishing off the
last crumbs. It was both pathetic and comical and reminded her of student days
when they would push a book or handkerchief through the windows of the Daily
Express to reserve a seat as the crowd jostled and thronged to get inside the
train.
He worked his way through the stream of glitzy crowd, gloating over
visual treats of aesthetic cuisine, leaving her to float in Nausea. She felt
alone and amused, much like Sartre himself, under the spotlight. Young people
nudged against each other like pigeons. On the farthest corner of the room sat
a middle aged man, staring with an insolent question. One of those men who
delivered pronouncements with authority at work and planned business meetings
out of town over a weekend of fun and frolic. She withdrew her gaze into the
book. The hawk eyed stare continued to tear into her aloof space with intensity
till it lathered up a revolt within her. She did not have to feel like a prey,
she reminded herself. 
 
The order of Eurynome and her priestesses who ruled the world,
before whom men trembled in mortal fear was perhaps a wishful thought , borne
out of violated sanctity of a woman, or
better still, was a loosely carved myth on which  a battered female ego could nibble and suck on
glories of a world gone by. One , two, three … she tried to count the number
of  gruesome crimes against women
reported by the media over the week. 
 
The hawk stare now resembled two large poached eggs with exaggerated
albumin. She gripped on the table, now, getting up. A middle aged woman with,
sagging under eye lines and pursed mouth, with a resigned expression waded
through the crowd, holding a red tray towards the hawk eyed man.. The woman sat
down beside him, the rear view of her graying hair cut short in sparse fringes blocking
him out.
She felt a surge of sympathy. She could not decide whether for the
man, woman , or both.

ix.
poem


Bomb
Blast

Dr.
Subhakanta Behera
When I was still asleep
not caring for my morning tea in the
balcony,

my thirteen-year-old daughter whispered to me –
a bomb has blasted in the town’s busy, bustling bazar
where she hangs out with her friends,

I turned the other side
called out to the servant to bring the morning
newspaper.

He came in a stupor and had done nothing wrong,

but I still shouted at him calling him a rascal and
an idiot;

my wife shouted at me for my laziness and for sleeping so late.

I was supposed to go to the bazar,
and as for lunch her relatives
have been invited
to our two-room flat
where every day we are squeezed
trying to make space for ourselves,
and where I stealthily check my bank
account

to avoid the wife nagging
about the amount left.

A bomb has blasted, my daughter confirmed,
a shadow of darkness
falling on her innocent face,
the servant rushed out to get
confirmation or some evidence
to cool me down,
but I slipped under the blanket
to escape my wife’s words and demands hurled at me.
x.

2 poems

Prayers
Tarun Agarwal

From the circus of feelings
I see no escape.From the dictates of destinyI have no respite.
I wonder if it will be those days again,
when I find everything vacant,
I look up the sky and find it empty,
I look at the ground and find it missing.

I want to brave it stoically,
but still succumb to a prayer
and tears course down.

I open my eyes after a while,
and find the world no less grim
than before my desperate hymns. 

Home
Is it home or prison would be a saner word,
amongst gypsies my mind speaks aloud,
amongst trees my soul plays its tunes,
in the company of mystics I find solace.

Here the chores distract,
relationships bring agony and strain,
every moment must conform to discipline,
Here, I need a licence to breathe.

xi.
poem

Sanctity

Shreyasi Mukerji
A gust of wind; a fragrant breeze;
Practiced aplomb or carefree pirouette…
Do I passively perceive events with ease,
Or must I engage in a dynamic duet? 
The black, the white, and everything in between
Characterize this ambiguous entity
Wherein two worlds struggle in a manner routine
To maintain an inimitable sanctity.
Sometimes a sacred covenant
But often a skirmish for justice,
It is one minute misread as ailment,
And the next as an alluring stasis.
Whether resulting in helplessness or exaltation,
Its existence will always be sure.
But perhaps we will forever long for an explanation
To these sentiments obscure.
xii.
2 poems

Halt at Rub’ al Khali
Geeta Chhabra
Here and now, as I
heed!

Can you hear the
scattered silences
Of the old, old
Rub’ al Khali,

Whispering to the
wind unseen?

This is where in
honour’s code:

Heroes of the
hundred fights,

Lived and perished
as a fact,

In the light of joy,
and melancholy.
The wind is ardent
in its course,
It listens to the
old, old Rub’ al Khali.

Observe, the
incessant song of the yellow sands!

Raising echoes of
myriad-pasts:

Where alive to all
things,

Among fair and
foul,

In strength,
stood,

The old, old Rub’
al Khali.


As a dream
ascertaining bliss,

Of magic birds and
busy mirth,

Of lives in love
of fair beliefs,

The old, old Rub’
al Khali carries on

Whispering to the
wind unseen.

Here and now,
while I heed!

Can you hear the
scattered silences

Of the old, old
Rub’ al Khali?
To close my eyes
like a tired man,

I find it well to
concentrate on:

The old, old Rub’
al Khali –
The land of brave
and free and fierce,

Where horizon is a
sea of mirage,

Where men still
gaze at stars,

And consider,
‘voyaging is victory’.

O, The Sacred,
Sacred Rub’ al Khali.


5 February,
2009
Glossary. 

Rub’ al Khali – The Arabic
name of the Empty Quarter, which is the huge desert in the middle of the
Arabian peninsula, stretching from central Saudi
Arabia in the north to Yemen in the south.

The Truth!
How many lassoes as a noose,will suffice,
to drag me up the hill;
to follow the beckoning mountain’s echoe?
Will those treacherous shores, ravines,
make me stout, to hop and skip
by;

to reach the top, and drinkthe sweet nectar of repose?

Are the mountains: noble and rouges,
and which trail will herald my advent?
Will I be among the chosen few
to view the Apostolic dome?
Why are some born in Spring to sigh!
While we, waywards,
found the wand of life
tap us, even in Autumn’s gusty blows?

When the sunsets, does it ponder
to delay its end?
Or, extends to think of another dawn,

brimming with hope?

When I finally rest, even before that, will the quiz be solved?In search of that Truth;how many wavered lines and half-truthswill I have to grope….?

xiii.
poem
Flowers by Topheth in Tunis
Arturo Desimone                                    
All love is forbidden love all desire is forbidden desire
fight only to seize
your beloved your desire
put on no mauve or graystriped business suit
to argue with a state
don’t fight for legalization of your love of your dream
that which is wished for
cannot live, swim or love
inside a cage made of laws and
lined with papers of bad news,
fearing smiling cupids who pour kerosene
to put out fires in the heart.
I want all I love
to be made illegal, criminal
so I can love these things and beings
more with bravadoes that
make love unquestionable
such as
courage, secrecy
fearless, clandestine night of sensuality’s athletes in amor, naked
outrunning the night-mosques of pimps
who hate buddleida
and sisters of Noamen,
and all Syriac red flowers
Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia March 25, 2012
xvi.
poem
A Satire On
The Busy World

 

Diganta
Ray

 

In the busy market, by the
crowded street,

  On crisp nights, in
scorching heat,

  A discoloured dispensary
stood up straight,

    With a doctor-cum-grocer,
and a rusted gate.

On such a busy day (busy
indeed

For a person both a doctor
and grocer in need)

A lean man entered, fragile
and weak;

The doctor’s help, he had
come to seek.

At the door he stood, with
consternation struck;


What a doctor he had found
(perhaps a doctor by luck)

Whom he saw bargaining over
a pumpkin he had sold!

“Doctor cum grocer”, the
signboard read bold.


 When the bargain was over,
and the customer had left,

The doctor piled up his
vegetables, with movements deft.

“Please enter.” , he
gestured, with a smiling face,

And returned to the doctor’s
table with haste.


 The lean man spoke, “My son
is ill.”

The doctor by nature,
questioned with zeal,


“Where is the patient? Bring
him in.”

“No!” , raved the man,
“That’d be a heinous sin.”

 Seeing the doctor amazed,
his mouth ajar,

The lean man spoke, “Let me
tell you that I’ve not revealed so far.”


The doctor meanwhile,
grabbed a carrot fresh and red,

And chewing it ravenously, “Proceed”, softly said.

 “Last week, I and my son,
had gone to the market to shop.

And as we crossed the busy
road, we saw a car run and hop.

But even I was ready; I held
my son and gave a toad jump

With a kick of my feet,

Or else I would have to
waste a precious minute,

And that, I couldn’t permit.

The car sped, it hit my son,

And swerved right and smashed
a dog,

That innocuously stood, at
the corner of the road,

Muffled up, hidden in fog.”

“And then?” asked the
doctor, now serious a bit,

Hitting the half-eaten
carrot on his head.

“The dog seemed luckier than
us doctor.”

The lean man smiling said.

“All street dogs from far
and near,

That were lazily
perambulating around,

Came rushing, came howling,
came barking and mourning,

For the bleeding dog that
was lying on the ground.

But not a single man that
passed by,

Came to help us out,

And perplexed I stood there,
asking for help,

But none replied to my
desperate shout.

My son is slowly recovering
from the wound,

But the fever’s still with
him.

And I can’t bring him here,
for the world’s busy,

And there’s lot of work for
him.”

The doctor now guffawed loudly,

Relaxed, relieved a bit,

“Just give him this melon,
nothing to worry;

It’s effect of the summer
heat.”

And the helper who stood
there, murmured to himself,

Separating the spinach from
the weed,

“What a doctor in this busy
world of humans!

A doctor-cum-grocer indeed.”

xv. 
3 poems
Vernal Hope
Arup Sinha Roy

Spring?
blue hope, roof to tossing eucalyptus,
harsh wintry winds purged
in whispering vespers;

Life streams thawed,
mind`s consort,
Virility escorts to parks, lust;

Under overrun vines,
vernal hopes concealed,
emotions seized in the rain :
we, so sanguinely,
illusion less sun-opiated,
watch with visions hollow
this drunken beauty,
to catch the strains of which mercy? 

 

Sweet song of eager tread,
travels forth,
on dew sprinkled mornings,
a native of Naive,
on paths, ill constructed,
hope attired!

Soothing foliage umbrellas are factories shut,
a smelly cover of rotten fruit,
spring is no ladder to silence the Jones’!

O, to trample fragrant’s bloom!

But, freedom?
You’re free to fly the coop,
to caged periphery,
for scarce grains strewn;

Nausea leaps like dancing flowers penned!

Shivratri, heralding lusts’ springs:
pockets holed by love burns,
reeking with crushed passions,
in omnibuses,
searing embraces in lieu of;

O, Holi – set us free!

But, love, still?
perched warm glow on air-wave crests,
dry-iced on worn-out loins;
Hope, attention soliciting,

sharp, sudden risers,
like the highway truck, vanishes
humming roar slipping into the fading night,
empty again,
screwed to the hilt;

Life, pale trickle of images,
unfulfilled by coming summer, withering
velvety leaves trapped under fallen branches,
life pining;

The song of the Spring, fades
and Hope, thankless burden,
chain your feet –

It’s Lonely Outside

Tree-blades emerge, on curbsides,
in mocking drool, awaiting that hush,
a plundered valley’s dying spring,
the hush –

She appears, like an Armenian relic,
her last shuffle in lands,
still alien –

She whimpers mercy,
a melancholy merging with Grant Road grey,
mocked, her feet bandaged, caked in crimson,
her soul in shreds –

She pauses at the bakery Meherwan,
touching herself,
finding she’s still there –

The black of her goggles opaque,
like a dark for days left,
like a mirror for a life known,a warmth fled forever.

1993, Grant Road (East), Bombay

Crushed Cotton

I drink. it’s hard
ice across glistens in the dark,
his eyes bore into me,
gulping into country that’s that hard;

Stinging like the deal that’s raw,
like the mill that doesn’t rattle,
with every sip it’s that prattle,
that pain isn’t a bead of sweat,
it’s a spindle of misery,
when turned it’s life;

A city that’s flanneled,
a theatre that hummed,
a shoe-shine that sang,
like the wild rain;

Like a love chased;

Cotton that was crushed,
it’s the Parel that was never lowered,
till seths sold out,
a heritage that was never theirs.

1989, BDD Chawls country liquor bar, Bombay

xvi.
2 poems
Highway Breakdowns
Amy Sandra
Highway
Breakdowns

When words just
give up on words,

When they are so
isolated that they make noise in your head,
They clammer to
be made note of,

When thoughts are
so impressed on the mind, they are easily forgotten,
When the action
inside leaves you paralysed on the outside,
When you prepare
to start at the end,
When pain is the
ecstasy you aspire,
When as a child,
the only shape you could recognise was a circle,
When the only
shape you could give to your dreams was the circle­—so vicious!
When the genesis
of evil is found in the good,
When you die and
are born a million times but still feel human,
And when there
are only highways to breakdown on.
Last First Love

Bitten by your sweet love,
Tasting your depth,
Your eyes said it all,
You are my greatest
fall.


Can you show me your cruel love, again?

Cause, I’ve not had enough.
Can you hurt me by your touch, again?
Cause, I’m not broken enough.

I dreamed you,
I searched you,
I so much hate you.

Can you say those words you told me, again?
Cause, I try to live.
Can you walk away all over again?
Cause, I want to forgive.

I touched you,
I breathed you,
I so much hate you
So numbed in places,
Not letting me go through new phases,
Standing in the cold outside,
The heart was colder inside,
Thought, I was bolder,
But, it was just the end coming closer.

I screamed you,
I cried you,
I so loved you.

xvii.
2 poems

Sylvan Angel
Mousumi Roy
I know you,
Streets are your home
The mud-heap your playground
Aimlessly you wander and sit on the
Old broken merry-go-round
You, a sylvan angel, happy
In your humble dwellings..

I know your
Godfather has never loved you
You wrote tearful account of your life
In your “believe it or not” column
Still people did not understand…
I know you,
have sweaty hands that you’ve in two accidents
A good pair of waterproof shoes
that you still haven’t found
You fear loneliness more than anything
You like climbing minarets…
I know you,
want to see her sobbing tremulousness in the voice,
using the same pretentious, inflections
the same strangely touching tones

I LOVE YOU… 
I know you, how many cups of tea and coffee
You swill as you sit across the night
Dreaming your dreams..
I know that you correct your typescripts
that you are happy with your life or yourself…
I know that though you’ve
paced up and down the room
Night after night
from dusk till dawn..
Yearning to be someone else…
O-R-P-H-A-N…

Sleepless night, never-ending nightmares
Headless zombies with guns
Continued to nag him..
Maybe remnants from war zones…
The morning bell wafted
through the air
Sky was gorgeous,
A huge water colour painting
A draft of lazy summer air
Ruffled his curls gently
Time to get up…
The sun weaved out a symphony
from the singing bird
fluttering with a new resolve…
M-me, he stuttered, in disbelief
after his volatile history
Reluctant to accept the truth
Heard a whisper of love…
After a hurried goodbye,
It started to fade
The volcano of emotions
Welled up within him
Never was he so happy ever,
In his dim existence…
The world lay open in front of him
lost the beauty of elements
The autumn air whipped coldly
In a mad race against the
Raging waves…
New home, fights started
After a week…
Started erupting every where
He was overwhelmed by multitude
Of feelings once again…
Feelings of betrayal and rejection….
Unforgiving, gates as they opened
For one last time…
A single teardrop trickled down…
It sprung onto the parapet
In one lithe movement
Gazed down into the depths of the river
The turbid waves were so silent
A calm emanating…
Closed his eyes to the world
Breathing, wonderful air…
Coiled his legs,
Ready for SPRING….
 
xviii.

poem

Death of a Desire
Itishree Mishra


And after a few moments

I have to bid ‘you’ farewell

‘YOU’ my very own ‘YOU’

My ‘DESIRE’…

Wait!
Wait a while…
Let me confess something before you

disappear forever


It’s me who never let you bloom…

And imprisoned ‘YOU’ inside me…

But alas,

I could not keep you forever as mine though
I struggled with all that

lonely evenings and never-ending nights…

As now you are fading, melting and
vanishing

I can see nothing but pale light of the
distant church…

I know you are dead now…

And I have to live with those deep long
shadows of ‘illusion’

and haunting eternal nights…
 

Yes…
 

After you I have to compromise with both life
and death…


So let me mourn your death…

Let me lose and let me desire you again my dead
desire………
 

xix. 

4 poems

Dead Man Talking
Saptarshi Basu
Haven’t
you ever heard the dead man talking inside your head?

I
do, at times…

When
numbness catches me in its womb

Being
stoned at times….

Have
you ever listened to his words,

Funny
isn’t it?

It’s
all so colourful in a pitch dark world

     What did he say to you the last time?
Do you remember…?

   I do, and I laughed…
For
he said, the evil is dead and God is back….


The Sense of an Ending 
Who said I am white, I was always black,
Like those black rainbows across the barren mountains,
Sucking out colours from that bright Sun
Who said I am white, I was always black.

Evening shadows, polluted hearts
Drenching together in that ugly rain, wilderness
Floating clouds, meandering paths
Once I was there, with you.

I might change, you never know
Looking at those eyes of the newborn child,
It’s so bright, washing away my pains
And let there be light, I said. 

Rain…
I
could speak to her on a day like this,
on a day when it rains as heavily.
You can open your heart on a day like this –

when you hear the clouds as the rain pours down
in gloom unbroken by light.
… Those words won’t be heard by anyone else;
there’s not a soul around.
Just us, face to face, in each other’s sorrow
sorrowing, as water streams without interruption;
it’s as if there’s no one else in the world
I Wonder…
I
wonder…

if
I had written a poem for you…

The
poem will give structure to the
Words
to immortalize
the passion that engulfed us…

the sacred fire burning within…

xx.
4 poems

Untitled
Natalidita Ningthoukhongjam

I.
You have tried to look past me in crowded trains;

Or how my legs differ from others within
The grasp of your imagination.
My hands are not always washed with saffron;
The green and white on my shirt aren’t siblings;
I have slits for eyes, and my shell is yellow;
My hair might not be what it seems,
And though my pace is measured,
you think I am sinking in a limbo,
just as she is
All the fleeting clones that crossed your way.

Now, let us slit our wrists and see
How the skies explode with scarlet rain.
There are no Manichean binaries, my friend,
That will offer you the solace you seek.

II.
The swimming is on the canvas
Where sienna hangs, a swirling
Born by fingers that ached to leave
Some mark upon the sight of the living,
A supplication of one christened:
Van Gogh: never to be
(Though ears are already cut and deaf).
It hangs upon a rusty nail,
Mortal, unsung, and undead,
On walls too weak to carry its load.


This painter and those lucid fingers
Their union, sour and arid, shall
Continue gathering apathy
Behind a flimsy, fettered frame.

III.
Could
I carry that weight upon these shoulders?

I
am but only she who breathes and unbreathes,

A
scavenger of scraps fed by one who cares little.

My
nails are brittle, my skin irascible;

My
spine would snap beneath a robust knee.


If,
however, you ran your finger along

The
crow’s feet I’ve watered over the years,

You’d
find that there is less of age

And
more of all the adventures I had

Each
time the witching hour struck.
 
Could
I carry that weight upon these shoulders?

We
gather, then, that I could.

I
think not with breakable nails;

I
speak not with feeble skin;

I
fly not with a bendable spine;

These
wings are powered by such mirth that learnt

To
make a banquet of every bite.

IV.
The
magic had fallen on the cusp

Between
sleight of hand and

The
bunny that stuck to the top hat.

We
caught each other’s eye then,

Saw
each face in technicolour,

In
startling black and white,

In
sepia that shone like burnished gold.

And
as the magician tried to unfreeze,

As
the audience tried to collect their jaws,

I
felt the laughter leave your lips,

I
watched it soar above the static skulls,

And
I smelled my hands catching it.
I
rolled it inside my mouth;

Your
breath tickled my throat as it went down,

Springing
the stage back to life.
books
tbc recommends

xxi.
Fakirnama
(Bengali)
Surojit
Sen
Publisher: Gangchil

About
the book (excerpt)
From Fakirnama

There
have been books on the baul-fakir philosophy previously, however Fakirnama treads a completely
different path. It contains a direct oral biography of the fakirs of rural
Bengal, and it gives its readers an inside view into the world of marfat (which
stands philosophically opposite to Shariat).

After the demise of Hazrat
Mohammad, institutional Islam (known as Shariat), took to hegemonising the
masses and tried to convert them into Islam through religious wars.
Simultaneously, its mystic counterpart, Marfat
or non-institutional Islam sought to spread its message of love and
compassion far and wide.
Fakirnama begins as an innocuous travelogue, but
the reader soon becomes aware that it is a travelogue with a bias, a bias in favor
of the non-institutional marfati fakirs. The book brings to the world an
account of the experiences of the ordinary practitioners.

               The fakirs are the poor inhabiting all
parts of rural Bengal. Poor they are only materially, but philosophically, they
are extremely rich. They are people who beg but are not beggars. 
 
xxii.
Painted
A Collection of PoemsSwati Singh Sambyal
Publisher: Cyberwit.net

Glittering blackness

Footsteps –
taking you
into a storm,
that you would not want to calm down;
However hard you try,
to give up!

In Swati’s own words: “Painted is my attempt to depict life in all its colours—the way we live, experience, love or hate. The 43 poems have a story embedded within—of experiences, people, friends, observations, loss, misery, love and all the other emotions that remain in the confines of our hearts. Painted talks of the myriad shades of life and their lessons. You never know, after all, which shade is waiting to paint your life at its next hairpin bend.”
xiii.

The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry (by Indians)
edited by Sudeep Sen

 The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry by Indians is a major landmark
international book that reflects the vibrant contemporary poetry culture of
India and the broader Indian diaspora – the United States and Canada, The United
Kingdom and Europe, Africa and Asia, Australia and the Pacific. The featured
poets are born post 1950, after India became a republic, and showcase the best
English poetry by Indians over the last sixty years. A unique feature of this
discerning anthology is that over 90 per cent of the poems are new and
unpublished in individual author volumes.

Expertly edited by Sudeep Sen, this
significant book is a must-have for literature and poetry lovers – an essential
compendium for academics, students, librarians and interested lay readers who
want to sample the vibrant cultural and intellectual milieu of India, at home
and in the world.

 

xxiv.
Em and The Big Hoom
Jerry Pinto
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
About the book
Set in Bombay during the last decades of the 20h century, Em and The Big Hoom tells the compelling story of the Mendeses—mother, father, daughter and son. Between Em, the beedi-smoking, hyperactive mother, driven frequently to hospital by her mania and failed suicide attempts, and The Big Hoom, the rock-solid, dependable father, trying to hold things together as best he can, they are an extraordinary family.

Jerry Pinto lives and works in Mumbai. He has been a mathematics tutor, school librarian, journalist and columnist. He is now associated with MelJol, an NGO that works in the sphere of child rights. His published works include Surviving Women; Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb, which won the National Award for the Best Book on Cinema in 2007; and Bombay, Meri Jaan: Writings on Mumbai (co-edited with Naresh Fernandes). Em and The Big Hoom is his first novel.

xxv.
book release
Left from DhakeshwariKunal Sen
Publisher : Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd
About the Book
(An Extract from the Press Release)

Left from Dhakeshwari is a collection of nine unusual stories about people in lust and trouble.

Meet a Bengali film actress who goes back to her hometown and reflects upon the life she left behind; a man who ‘stalks’ a woman for fifteen years; a runaway teenage girl who waits at the station for her paramour; a man who tries to solve the mystery behind his mother’s sudden disappearance; a married couple whose feelings for each other, change dramatically, when they’re stranded together in a flood…

A book that is likely to appeal to those craving for fresh voices in the Indian literary fiction sphere, Left from Dhakeshwari is written in a style that straddles between the tragic-dramatic and the mildly surrealistic, but remains in the end a book about some remarkably original people and their depths and failings.”

About the Author

Kunal Sen is an independent filmmaker and playwright. An investment manager by profession, he has acted in and directed films, written screenplays, poetry, prose and critiques for over four years for several leading publications. His other interests include travelling, painting and reading.

contributors
Shilpa Venkatachalam is currently teaching at the University of the West Indies before which she was in England. She has recently completed a mansucript of poetry and some of it is under review with HarperCollins.
Ruma Chakravarty has been a Maths teacher for the past 15 years in Australia. She has three children who are very supportive of her writing and are also her biggest critics at the same time. She loves writing about things that happen around her and would like to be a full-time writer some day. Her children, her students, her pets and her garden are the things that fill her hours outside writing and teaching.

Sunandan Roy Chowdhury (b.1969) is a
publisher, translator, poet and writer. He holds a
PhD in education, with specialization in Indian higher education policy. He studied
history at Presidency College, Calcutta and at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New
Delhi and teaches a course on Asian Studies at Satakunta University, Finland. Sunandan has authored Campus Nation: Student Activism and
Social Change in Slovenia, Poland, India and Bangladesh
investigating

student movements and change of regimes both in South Asia and East
Europe (Worldview, Calcutta, 2006) and coedited Islam
and Tolerance in Wider Europe
, (CEU Press, New York, 2006). His articles have been

published in various media including Mainstream (New Delhi), Ha’artez (Jerusalem),
Dagens Nyheter (Stockholm), Mint (Mumbai) and in FT.com (Website of Financial
Times, London), and Matrubhumi, (Kozhikode). SAMPARK, the
publishing house Sunandan founded in 1999, is devoted to bringing
out English and Indian language translations of literatures from all around the
world. He is presently translating
into English the poetry of Jibanananda Das, the most important Bengali poet
after Rabindranath Tagore. He writes
both in Bengali, the language of his heart and English, the language of his
mind. Write to the poet at
[email protected]
Born and brought up in Gwalior Mradul Sharma currently lives in Kerala. He has lived in Varanasi, Delhi, Rajasthan and Kerala at various points of his life. He has been writing poetry for some years and has an interest in literature. He has written a few articles and book reviews too. He likes to travel and has travelled a lot across India. His poems have been previously featured in brown critique.
Malavika Bhatnagar is a professional working in the corporate sector. Having previously worked with the Press Trust of India, it had opened a window of public writing for her. She writes to satisfy a creative inner self and a mind always bubbling with new ideas.
Gopika Nath is a textile artist and designer working primarily with
needle and thread. A Fulbright scholar and alumnus of The Central [St. Martins]
School of Art and Design, London U.K., she is also an art critic and poet. She
lives and works in Gurgaon, India and is presently working on a project called
garam masala chai, which involves photography, digital printing on fabric,
embroidery and stories around the ritual of making and drinking tea, which
together create a portrait of city/nation/self. Website: www.gopikanath.co.in

Mithun Dey is a freelance writer, poet, essayist, translator, storywriter from Bongaigaon, Assam . He writes for India News and Feature Alliance (INFA), New Delhi, India Press Agency (IPA)Service, New Delhi, The Organiser Weekly, New Delhi, The Assam Tribune, Guwahati, The Sentinel, Guwahati,  The Kashmir Times, Daily Excelsior, Jammu, The Shillong Times, The Arunachal Times, STAYFIT Magazine from Bangalore and other publications.
Smitha Sehgal is a professional employed with a leading Public Sector Undertaking. Settled in Delhi, she devotes my personal space to literature, law and painting. Her work has been previously featured in brown critique.
Dr. Subhakanta Behera is a member of the Indian Foreign Service. He is a bilingual writer, writing both in English and his mother tongue Odia. With a Doctorate from Oxford in Modern History, Dr. Behera’s English poems are widely published in India. Presently, he is posted as Consul General of India in Melbourne, Australia. His e.mail ID is: [email protected]
Tarun Agarwal is a Mumbai-based business executive. His poems have been published by The Statesman, Indian Poesy, The Himalayan Beacon, PEN and other literary magazines. His prose has been published by The Times of India (Education Times) and Free Press Journal.
Shreyasi Mukerji was born in Ahmedabad in February 1987 and is the only child of Swapan and Neena Mukherjee. She completed her studies in 2010 and is now a mechanical engineer who enjoys writing poetry in her free time.
Geeta Chhabra was fortunate to have received the guidance of the late bard Nissim Ezekiel in the 1990s. Presently, her English poems have been translated by the foremost Emirati Poet/Translator – Dr. Shihab Ghanem. Her poems have been published in reputed Arabic literary journals from time to time. She has also completed with satisfaction the 12 monthly issues of www.geetachhabra.com. Her poems have been previously featured in brown critique
Arturo Desimone (1984) was born and raised in Aruba (Dutch Caribbean) but is of Argentinean origins and has led a nomadic existence. He left high school at the age of 15 to work but took online courses in writing and world mythology with The New School University of New York. He now lives in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. This year he won a prize from the El Hizjra literary contest for immigrants writing in the Netherlands—his submission of a theater-play was the first English-language winner.  At the moment he is working on projects inspired by his travels through Poland and Tunisia in 2011. His poems have been previously featured in brown critique.
Diganta Ray is a student and is based out of Darjeeling. 

Arup Sinha Roy works and lives in New Delhi. ‘Vernal Hope’ was written when Arup was 14.
Amy Sandra works and lives in Delhi and Mumbai. In her words: “Being a faithful lover of freedom, people and art, and an ‘intentional’ stumbler, life has given me only a voice as my comforter, my identity and my resource. Skeptical of my beliefs and slowly drifting into my ‘illusions’, introspecting and observing, I dared to bring a stammering voice into the ears of the deaf and the deafened. I CHOSE TO WRITE—write till I could reach myself and many others bringing out their voices within. The journey has not been a walk by the beach, but I believe that is what I chose to make it, even though my ‘destiny’ was said to be set. A passout from Miranda House, Delhi University, adorning my volatile experiences of life and the corporate, I am glad to share my work in Brown Critique. I hope you would have something to nudge you, even if, at the farthest end of you.”

Author, writer, poet Mousumi Roy is born in Kolkata and lived there mostly. Presently living in Muscat, Middle East. An ardent lover of poetry and literature. Her poems and articles already published in various international journals. Her profession is teaching. Her poems have been previously featured in brown critique
Itishree Mishra has done her post graduation in Economics; after working for a nonprofit organisation, she is now preparing for research fellowship. Books are always her passion. She tries  to unmask her inner self and all those complex and conflicting feelings of humans in her poems. She is currently staying in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, with her parents.
Saptarshi Basu, a Gold Medallist in
Mechanical Engineering, has been in IT industry for the past eight years and has worked
for the top three IT companies of India (INFOSYS, TCS & WIPRO). However, writing
has always been his first love, his passion. His debut novel — LOVE {LOGIC} AND THE
GOD’S ALGORITHM
is now a national best-seller on Infibeam, a premier online
store. His second
novel, AUTUMN IN MY HEART published by Vitasta Publishing with Times group
launched in November ’11 has already created a lot of stir because of
its theme related to broken hearts and homosexuality.

Natalidita Ningthoukhongjam is a graduate of Ramjas College, Delhi University. Her career as a juggler of English Literature and content development for youth employment skills curricula is coming to an end, but her journey as a poet has just begun.

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