December 2012

December 2012

i.

3 poems

Shanta Acharya
Hunger
The gecko’s progress across the ceiling,

scaly limbs defying gravity,
eyes fixed on its prize hypnotised

Is matched by the speckled moth’s nervous
fluttering against the fluorescent bar light.

I watch mesmerised waiting for a taxi
to take me to the Siddhi
Vinayak Temple.

The wild life programme on TV

hones in on a cheetah chasing a gazelle,
the cheetah swiftly walks away with its kill.

The neighbour’s dog barks drunkenly
as I walk past the entrance to a consumptive car.

Dark, sunken, hungry eyes peer at me
behind the closed, tinted window screens
each time the car stops at traffic lights;

Long enough for mother and child to gesture
for alms, palms rising in salaam.

When I hand out ten rupees, my car is
mobbed with myriad hungry eyes.

Across the road a life-sized poster sells dreams
an actor gazes enchanted into the eyes
of his beloved, lips barely touching.

Near the temple an emaciated devotee
crawls across the tarmac penitent for his sins –
a caterpillar crossing from leaf to leaf
declaring eternal hunger for His love and mercy.

I join the evening queue for darshan,

my hands laden with flowers, earthen lamps, offerings.

It is Divine hunger, this
Creation…

I overhear a conversation about Darwin and evolution,
origin of the universe, Einstein,
Hadron Collider and the Magician,
the meaning of life, religion, Higgs Boson,
in answer to the question: “What
is maya, illusion
?”

The Last Dance

Sometimes doubt dances in the heart like a devil
twists your reason, plays with memory until
you forget the familiar face of love, no longer feel

The gentle hand protecting you, guiding the world

with its goodness, the way waves wriggle on the ocean-wedge;
water suddenly sprays your face, lips laced with salt –

Margarita kiss. You find yourself in Caesars Palace
gambling your fortune, friends, family with funny
money, credit swaps, sub-prime off-shore accounts.

Nobody asks you any questions, nor do you take stock
of your naked positions, the house of cards collapses,
you know you’ve been skewered, left roasting on a spit.

Sometimes doubt lands in your heart like a bumblebee
descending down the throat of flowers, humming in the dark,
drunk with honey, dazzled, dusting off pollen.

You lose your sense of purpose in
the universe.

Nothing left to return home to;
faith, hope – all gone.

Dispossessed, you daren’t deny the Devil the last dance.

Time Uncovering Truth

Home to nudes in painting and sculpture,
The gossip in this country of art and culture

Is about a government cover-up, plain and simple –
Not the credit crunch or corruption, but a missing nipple.

Image consultants in the Prime Minister’s
office obsessed

With a bare breast, voluptuous,
self-possessed –

Tiepolo’s Time Uncovering Truth, backdrop for every press
Conference, caught repeatedly on camera
alongside the PM’s face –

Out of touch with public sentiment they repainted the lady’s gown
Just to cover the offending nipple. Young men about town

Joined art critics in pronouncing the decision totally crazy;
Students labelled the government morally bankrupt and lazy.

Women protested by showing off their cleavage and more.
Aspiring artists gathered in galleries professing to explore

The skill, ingenuity involved in the delineation of breasts.
Cartoonists had fun with impotent politicians’ chests.

Clueless foreign tourists received free master classes
On the integrity of naked human bodies by models in glasses;

Etchings of Madonna and Child, milk squirting
From the nipple, were in vogue. ‘It’s just a misunderstanding’

Confessed a senior source from the Ministry of Culture; story
Was the PM ordered the painting be restored to its original glory?

Tongues wagged with pleasure as reporters gathered to admire
The nipple and breast because frankly the news was pretty dire!

(Note: Poem based on a news report that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s
staff altered a reproduction of a famous 18th century painting by
Giambattista Tiepolo to cover an exposed breast on full display in the press
room in the Palazzo Chigi, the Prime Minister’s palace.)
ii.
2 poems
Bipin Patsani
Aesthetic Intercourse
A good work of art or poem
Captures the imagination
And leaves it at a point
Of redemption, where
One experiences oceanic orgasm.
The more the tides rise
And long to break away
Like migratory birds,
The more they cling to the ocean
After each sizzling release.
Rivers respond to its arms in spasms,
Flashing into profound stillness
Like homebound birds
Sailing in peace
With crumbs of heavenly bliss.
The Mirror
The mirror on the toilet wall reflects a bucket,
The running water from the tap,

A rat hole, a wire hanging from the ceiling,

The wash-basin, cobwebs at the corner and myself.

The wall with the smell of lime and loose sand,

Map like patches and scribbling resembling a Shiv-Linga,

Shows its own weary world of moss and ash falling apart.

A house fly struggles to escape the web it got entangled in,

While a spider playfully spins the prey around.

I wonder if the poet is not the mirror on the wall

Reflecting what comes before it and feeling empty again,

The moment the reflection passes

Onto a time-frame in the shape of a poem.

The poet then alert and watchful, becomes a snake

Andhangs on Shiva’s neck like a question mark

That which stretches away to gather a handful of sky.

iii.
4 poems
Indah Widiastuti
Say It…

Say it…

and toss the words like coins

till they flip out red from those lips.
Oar the reasons with stories
– that may never hit any shores –
It will not stop these innocent eyes
from adoring the illusory twilight glint
of sunset in your eyes.
Say it and disguise it
with the best awe
that your nonsense could afford
Switch on the fictitious part of me
and I will stay here anyway
laying my eyes on a warm lie
– marking a winter in a pair of eyes
waiting for a rising fire.
Say it
and cling to the worshipper in me,
who sits in style watching you
in a garlanded sweet maneuver,
struggling hard to steal a sidelong glance
and build a personal maze
inside a quiet springtime
of once a barren dream inside me.
(Note: Written while listening to Janis Crunch’s play on ベル=イルの海の絵  [Tableau de Mer en Belleile], track 08 from her album, “I just Love Piano” [2011])

Morning Flight
A broken shadow of mine
is caught on a chord D-major 7.
– Paul, Peter and Mary, are
on “Living on a Jet Plane”.
In a flight of memory,
a dream crashlands
on the augmented chord,
stirring the Hazelnut delight
on my table.
turning the time blurred
space into swirls
pulling me back
to that scent of morning at 7
when empty seats
sat around us
while brooms and mops
danced on the floor.
We were lips.
the cafe was just open
to witness two pairs of eyes
opening to each other –
flirting the flavor,
that floated up from the table.
those hours that
have left in a jet
those hours that
didn’t know
when they’ll be back again
(Note: Written while listening to “Leaving on a Jet Plane”Album 1700 Peter, Paul and Mary [1967])
Strolling
Strolling on quiet streets,
 
lanes after lanes
were us,
– shadows without bodies –
sweeping the roads like rain
that fell on once a summer,
– a chatter in fleshless voices
that made the space unfold
without time.
 
I did not know how
many million days and night
have been passing over
the same roads
just to deny that we have been always
stealing a kiss
on every turnings
by the dark corner of our eyes
 
– I bet it must have spent the whole time
needed for creations –
 
Through the meandering unending streets
magic sneaked and made conversations more real,
questions, colliding with each other without answers
and silently…
 
my mind made love to your sweet silent tricks
for making this stroll that never ends.
 
 
The Storyteller
Once upon a time
 
a day stayed on my finger tip
upon an yellow soul hanging on the mood of meadow leaves
falling one by one on barren hands.
 
Once, in a quiet evening, my eyes were riding slight flickers,
carvings on my palm, lifelines of twilight fates
of days and nights happening on the skin
under which was the blood with another perfect event –
the undercurrent flow, blatantly unraveled
by the outstanding moment of wound.
 
Once, sitting in an evening, so divine,
I was watching the lavender, anxiously
pounding the sky –
My heart was having you inside, storytelling.
(Note: Written while listening to “Yesterday” arranged by “The 12 Cellists of The Berlin.)
iv.

5 poems

Abhay K.
Delhi

My smell
my nakedness


entices


hordes of human flesh


from far away landsa


traders,


emperors,


marauders.


I

pose

nude


up on the hill


below


the feast of eagles –


possessed,


intoxicated.

Akhmatova
Anna
your requiem-meditations –
                                         condemned and censored
under the shadow of terror
your loved ones
                                         disappeared
one by one
                                     without a trace.
Like storms,
                           husbands and lovers
came your way –
                              Gumilev, Modigliani, Osip,
and countless others,
                            though none
could possess you for long
                             friends left you
for greener pastures
                         and you became a poem
without a hero.
GogolYour long nose,

 and even longer overcoat

can still be seen wandering
on the Nevsky Prospect
at odd hours
guarded by an army of dead souls.
Gogol, are you still enamoured
 with heaven on a marshy land,
why disguise yourself
 as an inspector general,
a police chief  or a lowly clerk,
have you forgotten the tsars and communists
have left St. Petersburg?
The Dark Side of Life
The book says –
God created us in his own image,
but sometimes I ponder
life goes on evern after we die,
species become extinct
and new species evolve
what if we are just pawns,
in life’s great game?
Falling in love,
reproducing,
raising children
with great care and
unconditional love
till they grow up
and do the same.
What if life just uses us
to preserve itself and propagate?
It hardly matters
this species or that –
dinosaurs or humans,
it’s just the same,
only forms change.
Life evolves as fast as it can,
adapting to new situations,
we humans vainly believe
we are special
in the scheme of creation,
created in God’s own image
to exploit nature’s bounty,
while failing to see the truth that
the moment there is a change,
we would be discarded
in the dustbin of extinction
as useless garbage
while life will move on
ever evolving
into new species
and man created in God’s own image,
will join the dodos and the dinosaurs.
There is still time left
let’s understand life’s great game,
it has no favourites and no foes,
it’s a ruthless survivor,
and would evolve into forms galore.

The Old Lady

The old lady from the faraway village,
partly sitting, partly standing
in a visibly uncomfortable pose
holding a bunch of green stems,
her restless eyes
watch passers-by
with hope,
may be someone will stop,
look at her green wonders
and take them home.
She has travelled from the faraway village
with a bundle of green stems
holding in her hands,
this is all she has got
to make a living;
her day would be made,
if she could sell that green bundle
and go home in peace
with a wonderful gift –
bread for her family.
v.
poem

Bireswar Halder
The Last Journey

Tuck away vanity
forever

Don’t turn your
face off

Come to me one
last time

I shall be in the
dark shadow

For a little while
more

The coffin awaits
its last nail

Memories wait
I long for your
loving touch

Don’t keep aloof
anymore

Please come near
the coffin by the fire

I will watch the
flames

Curling over into
the sky

Perhaps, you will
see

And think of our
playful memories

I will wait for
your comeback

Nothing will
change in the world

Except for the
small pile of ashes

Spilling over the
vase

Which lies in
front of you

vi.
3 poems

Indu Muralidharan
A Misty Reverie
for Anuradha

On the last day, we shared the last lunch left in the canteen where we
had sipped hundreds of cups of tea talking about the world and how we
would conquer it soon, will the brashness of our twenty one years
and the confidence of class toppers who had aced the final exams.
Where are you now, Anu? It did not take even a year for your e-mails
to come down to the earth, about your broken engagement,
your subsequent love affair, marriage, travels with husband and son
and kitchen skirmishes with your mother-in-law. Our e-mails could not cross
the vastly different dimensions in which we lived; they faded away with time
like weakening signals across a non -ransmitting medium. But across the miles and years, I
look back today at those misty hills that we used to watch, the mushy Hindi songs that we crooned
together against the drone of digital communication lectures, the day we were lost to the class and
the world in the warmth of a friendship bonded by sharing tea, songs, poetry, a paper co-authored
on HDTV, casual jokes, circuit notes, corny cards and confident talks on conquering the world.
Alone Together
(from the Margazhi poems)
My Poet, a few days ago, I heard a poet interpret
a verse that though solitude is an attribute
of the self, when twin souls have met,
their togetherness becomes absolute
solitude. They are alone as they are one.
Having enjoyed the sweets of loneliness
for many hours and years of my life,
I had been surprised at how thoughts of you
do not cause ripples in my mind,
rather I feel more content within
than ever before. A blissful silence overflows
from me as I write these lines. Your words owned
my erstwhile loneliness for years, and now
you are with me forever, as the poet said, alone.
Exiled

Sunshine, shade, the dark and cool silhouettes of tall, old trees
They all make me equally sick with longing, for my city.
To an exile, home is like the past, a pepper tree, a paradise
that may or not have been, A place from where snatches of
laughter, peace and song fall in mixed echoes through gaps between
dreams and memories. But my city remains solid, real, the same
Here, time stands still like the ancient flame of the forest trees
Bordering the lanes around my school. Squinting hard, I see


My younger self walk by in two plaits and blue pinafore.

She smiles to herself, humming. She is at peace, at home.
I wince, and writhe, in envy and pain. Then I pity her for a while
She does not know that she too, will soon be an exile.
And I wish that a car, or summer lightening, or the Madras Sun in the month of May,
Had kindly struck her dead there at that moment as she walked calmly on her way.
vii.
poem

Ananya Bhattacharya
Death Flames

She sits quiet awaiting a death-wish
Forehead whitened
And hair unkempt,
liberated for some
death rites
She waits with echo of smokes
One who vowed to love
Weaves fire in the heart
Death’s devil is silent
He shuffles out
Of the death trap
Draped in a white saree
she stands still
waits
And then leaps a hellish fire
Behind the killing flames,
his horrid laughter
memories burn, dreams scream
Her final dream mocks the fire
In her new incarnation of charred body
and dying bones
A tale tells itself
Her silence
and the red of the brow
Forehead whitened
And hair unkempt,
liberated for some
death rites
She murmurs out her silence
Smoke hides in the sky
Another Sati is born
A temple in her honour
She screams from fire
The stone sati
spatters ashes
Ashes of dreams
That knew no love.

viii.
journey

Paul C. Blake
Me

In my aesthetics, nature is
my vehicle to the many crisscrossing avenues of evolving cultures and ideas. It
inspires greater tendencies toward more abstract images. This union
between nature and art gives clarity to my organic impressions and images forging
transformation. The scene is mostly imaginative and vertical, but still remain lesser hints to the
referential and tangible world.
Lines are the meandering elements of art and literature that reveal and
direct my passions for the cherished harmonies inside of me. How to tell a
story of love and desire according to the developing plot is spun in the twist
and turns of metaphorical lines in my novel, A String of Knots.In my art, these lines are transformed by
their calligraphic impressions while serving as the definitive guidelines to a
rather elusive shape or faded hue.  As I begin doodling with crisscrossing
and accentuating lines, all things in the ephemeral scene are preserved or cast
out in the calligraphic experience. At a glance, the scene appears
predictable yet in a gaze when vision is induced, the obscure becomes obvious,
and the scene reappears unpredictable.
“Fertility Goddess…” Painting by Paul C. Blake


I am the composite of nature—all things most colorful and beautiful. Inside me, my flora and fauna are the reflexive images of my love and passion
that have lingered to inform my duty to attend to the remnants of Paradise left
behind.At the threshold of my
aesthetics, the goddess of fertility in her stark nakedness and unspeakable
beauty still saunters immanently but maintains a whisper of transcendental
affairs.In this devotion, I have come
to seek the latitude in my aesthetic meditation to this advanced abstract
expression of all things beautiful despite the ephemeral nature or the ethereal
incomprehension.

This I recalled from A String of Knots:

“Let the

field be joyful, and all that is therein,” reiterated Mother after a pause.

“That’s

just beautiful,” I said.

“Isn’t

it?” she whispered.

“What is?” asked Sam,

raising his head from the pillow again.
 
“The music.”

“What music?” Sam inquired

with knitted eyebrows.

“The crickets and…!” I

exclaimed.

“At best, memory coupled with imagination is but a selection of images,

some illusive, others eternally etched in the brain. Each image is defined by a
brush stroke, whether hot or cold. It doesn’t matter except that each brush
stroke is intricately blended to create a field of color like an emerging void
for the subject touched, but for the artist, an abstract expression in painting
which tells a story. The murky images in the dawn or twilight of our lives
stretching across the great expanse of our untangled brains are sometimes the
story of our deepest and most urgent past—the life we suffered and now come to applaud.”
[1]
Finally, in the
utmost recollection of Walden Pond, I still recalled that: “Time is but a
stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy
bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity
remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with
stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet.”
[2]This time, I’m here; the next time, I could
be there, but sometimes I may be neither here nor there.
“Do I
still have just one such tiny chance?
Perhaps
so, cause in crescent moon, I glance.”

I am paul c. blake.[3]

1. Paul C. Blake, A String of Knots(Baltimore: Publish America, 2009), 131-132.

2. The Portable Thoreaued. Carl Bode (New York: Viking Penguin Inc, 1947), 351.

3.  Final Couplet from my Sonnet, “My Nightingale.”
4. American Contemporary Artist and Writer…My painting included in text is “Fertility Goddess…” also blog 6.1-6.2 on my website: www.paulcblake.com

ix.
6 poems

Priya Sarukkai Chabria

Dialogue -1*

after
Tamil aham poetry

1. She says to her lover:
I’ll
tell you this in advance –

You
who will be enclosed in my flesh, your rhythms

mine,
our hands like a thousand comets descending

towards
pleasure, your sweat becoming my skin,

listen:
All this I want, and more.

Yet
in your passion, do not scar me.

Do
not split my lip, nor stifle speech.

Do not force my cervix out of
shape

nor ram my individuality.

I am parched. Riven

by longing, caked by the long dust
of denial.

And yet I’ll come to you like the
first rain,

fragrant and trusting.

5.
She says to her friend:


He
said to me: Keep faith.


So
I kept stubborn faith in him that grew


with
every obstacle.


Swollen,
taut, ready


I
held this close within myself


feeling
his absent presence


fill
me full.

Suddenly


this
small spill,


for
him a little thing.


His
rapid pulling out of me


peels
away my very skin.

I
am an earthworm worming


In
the red slush


open


to
flaming skies.



Dialogue – 2: Fireflies

2. after Pahadi paintings of swadhinapathika nayikas
confident and fulfilled
The nayika says:


Dawn breezes I know, and night-opening lotuses.


The stilling scent of jasmines, full moons,


lakes with diamond skins,


swans streaming like dreams heading home —


these metaphors of fullness, I know.


But this, my sakhi!


This sudden rain:


soft clouds, hard kisses


melting the skies.


6.after Pahadi paintings of angry khanditha nayikas
The
nayika says:

Yes,
it’s true:


Once
my anger was a pool


contained;


disturbed
by the play of your hands,


a
touch of your words, a passing shower:


disturbed
into laughter


breaking
white and warm over my skin,


egrets
lifting from my eyes.

Once
my anger was a pool


evaporating
into your charm, the heat of your mistakes,


your
poor repentance, this small change.


Evaporating
into my need.


Once.


Hospital




2.


In
the hospital I remove my eyes

and
slip each one, wrapped in jelly,


under
my armpits to miss


the
mattress dark with blood,


the
kidney tray with clotted strawberries,


and
that yellowish streak


on
the ward-boy’s latex hands.

I
zip my ears


and
stuff them into my empty eye sockets


to
stop the wails behind the door



and that snatch: the blood clot


is in his brain but he’s still
talking;


to avoidthe whispering of
white-stockinged feet


of
the nurses as they scurry on midnight emergencies.


I
plug


my
nose into my navel.


No
smell of puss, piss, shit;


nor
the tang of sudden shots,


as
needles rise into blood and breath,


nor
the stench of tired relatives.


I
peel my skin,


roll
it into a pellet and tuck it beneath my tongue.


For
I must warm her body’s rigors without sweating


beneath
three blankets in Madras
heat.


Nor
flinch when a stranger’s spittle spots my face;


and
hold some patient’s trailing hand


as
she’s rushed into the theater, eyeballs rolling.


In
the hospital my tongue thins


and
rises red


to
sing praises.


3.


Tending
the ill, time trails on torn wings,


transforming
waste.




Repetitious
requests


become
the liturgy of a thickened tongue.


In
my blood, the other’s life, hard-fought for, slips


from
being a trial — into natural pulse. Nothing repulses.


Beneath
the persistent hospital light


my
memory’s white lotuses open


and
petals lengthen to fill the room where she sleeps,


and
seep their softness on those who enter, those who leave.


Suddenly,
dragonfly wings beat my eyes


as
sorrow, six-limbed, descends:

 


Guttering
is critical for loving,


the
beast proclaims.

x.


2 poems

Smruti Patil
I Like the Rain

I like the rain,
Not that I enjoy getting lost in its magical waters,
But because my own tears are hidden away by the maddening crowd;
I may be brave enough to admit that I can shed tears,
But I think I don’t have the courage to face the world with moist eyes;
She, the one who has caused these tears to flow,
Stands away with all the ignorance;
How unfortunate can I be,
That I shall not let her see me with water in my eyes,
I promised her once that I shall not let the flow,
And so I remain quite, smiling in the rain.
But she is the one, and she does not know,
That she is the only one who can wipe off all my pain,
And give back that smile to me.
But I stand under the clouds,
And the world thinks that I like the rain.

The Rose on the Night stand

I get up to see the rose on the night stand,
I stretch out to touch it but he pulls me back,
He pulls me back hard and strong,
As I fall, losing that moment of solace,
His mocking laughter echoes along.
I think of the day that lies ahead,
Yet another day when I will be slaughtered,
Not just in body but in mind and my heart,
I try to count the days spent in this dungeon,
But the scars on my trembling hands stop me before I start.
The rose on the night stand has begun to wither,
Reminding me of my shrinking soul.
From dawn to dusk,
I sit quietly, facing this agony,
No words, no noise, no reason either,
My demure nature, no match to his atrocious authority,
With no one by my side, I am my own griever.
Every night I die again,
When he rips my dignity with his lustful mind,
He touches me never to open me,
But his eyes do the trick of shattering my soul,
And at this moment I lose another part of me.
The rose on the night stand has now shriveled,
Reminding me one day it will be my turn.
Under the dim light and the dark shadows,
All I hear is my soft cry for freedom,
Freedom from this cage, freedom from his presence,
Freedom from this bitterness, freedom from this self-pity,
Freedom from this wretched, abhorrent subsistence.
As I dress up tonight to fulfill his desires,
I hold on to that delicate string called hope,
Every day I am born again, only to die,
But I think of that priceless moment
When I will fly deep into the sky.
Though the rose on the night stand has now lost its petals,
Its lingering fragrance strengthens my belief – in hope.
Yet, while I prepare myself to satisfy his notions,
I think of the unknown world that lies outside,
What if there are more like him,,
All those who are waiting to lay themselves on me,
Uncertain and unsure, I see the gentle ray of hope dim.
I shudder, I fear, I come back to reality,
I realise that my vulnerability is my own enemy,
I see him waiting to unleash himself on me,
I am swamped in aversion and disgust,
And I repel the idea of breaking free.
Maybe this dirty pond is better than the dangerous sea out there,
I console myself, I hold myself, up for the night ahead,
Somewhere there must be a reason,
If not a new me, there might be a new him,
Filled with doubt yet some hope, I pray there is no new deception.
For, tomorrow again, I will get up
To reach out for yet another rose on the night stand.

xi.
2 poems


Wribhu Chattopadhyay
To and for You


The sky has wrung out the last drop

then I plunged into your half-open


love river.


Deeper. . . deeper. . . and deeper. . .


Yo
u still cannot be traced,


but I remain still for that wave,


then in soft breath of upheaval chest


I have tried to touch your depth


More. . . more. . . and more


but still no trace of your wave.




Office Passenger



He is still working,


it has reached midnight.


Dark circles constipate the morning


and night ends in a lame bed with


a passive partner.


Time, which has crossed the dead line, flies


One’s blood pressure may touch the sky,


While a fleeting period wait for a new pen,


Endocrine squeezes laughter,


but he is working and has to work


till the dead line.

xii.
2 poems

mradul sharma
internet

we are like flies on a trash can.
the syllables of a loud, slow, melancholy sufi song.
dry leaves, withering, falling as autumn approaches.
morning rain. sad, cold. and pink.
the seconds hand of an old wristwatch.
indifferent. like sisyphus. or angry perhaps.
we are the water, that is falling.
in the highest waterfall of the world. now.
or the ends of a deep blue sky.
stereotyped as beautiful. inappropriately of course.
the monochrome orgasm. that pervades everyday.
everywhere. everyone. tired of its ubiquity.
in standing alone. on the deserted bridge. holding it together.
we are the dead. waiting for a life.
while we make fun of the other dead.
and talk of morality.


xiii.
2 poems
Amy Sandra


Difference: The voice

As the night summons me to sleep, there is a chill in the air that stiffens me.


It makes me coil in at the edge of my bed, like a baby.


There is a voice that beckons me—the voice of indifference.


I say it’s neutrality; it will save me, it will keep me.


The day passes right; there is just no need to fight.


My indifference takes care of it all, my indifference saves me from the falls.


As the night summons me to sleep, there is a chill in the air that stiffens me.


It makes me coil in like a baby, at the edge of my bed.


There is a voice that beckons me—the voice of indifference.


I say it’s neutrality; it will save me, it will keep me.


I follow peace, and I win my battles with honesty.


My Indifference plays honesty well; my Indifference silences everything that’s not hell.


As the night summons me to sleep, there is a chill in the air that stiffens me.


It makes me coil in like a baby, at the edge of my bed.


There is a voice that beckons me—the voice of indifference.


I say it’s neutrality; it will save me, it will keep me.


Love comes easy as I just can’t react.


My indifference makes me simple; my indifference leaves no expectation.


But as the night summons me to sleep, there is a chill in the air that stiffens me.


It makes me coil in like a baby, at the edge of my bed.


There is a voice that beckons me— the voice of indifference.

I say it’s neutrality; it will save me, it will keep me.


In His Likeness

Far from religion is where I lie,
I’m farther from God, He is religion.
Why should I know Him,
When all that is, is for Him?
He says love is unconditional,
Yet, He commands to love and obey Him.
The good are rewarded,
But is that in heaven?
He wants me enjoy His creation–this earth,
But heaven is my eternal home.
He wants me to leave behind every materialistic gain,
While He continues in His reign.
I am created in your image and likeness, God.
I am just like you.
 xiv.
3 poems

Tapas Bandyopadhyaya

Morning – 2

Don’t look at the clock, or the day will break.
Underneath your reveries, a pump hums.
Above, a fan grinds the air.
In the wavy outside,
A crow stretches its caw.

Morning.
Jobs have to be paced.
‘Going to office,’ is falling off the shelf.
‘Meditation,’ runs off to the street.
The walk, will have to find
An evening when work has left at five
And, it doesn’t rain.

Then, where is the time
To put in order
The cupboard of one’s attitudes?
Where is the time,
To catch You, distant, twinkling star?

How were your holidays?

‘How did you like the mountains?’
Of sadness?
‘How did you like the valleys?’
Of waiting?
‘How did you like the gauzy blue skies?’

                         Air-less.

Between any two seconds

Between any two seconds
When the seconds hand is moving
I wait.

Wait to fly
over the red brick boundary walls of my school
Wait with a cigarette outside my college gates
Wait in white sleeves in a hall for an interview
Wait for the weekend
and the next
to see her again.

Till I can never again…
Wait for the pain to subside.

Wait for my child’s school bus to arrive
Wait for her call at 9 pm
to tell us she is on her way.

Wait for my eyes to recognise me
as I know myself.

Between any two seconds
I wait.

 

xv.
poem

 

Gayatri Majumdar

 

Poetry Reading, Love,
and Warfare

I held her bloody slippery heart gingerly in my palm


Taking care not to soil my spotlessness

“No bindi for me,
please,” I said

with my hard-earned practiced smile.

I began to wonder

What the lack of love meant

When it could not be classified as hate.

And then, before I could devote sufficient time

To the raptures of wine and darting eyes,

The man in a Nehru jacket sans the rose
Raised his eyebrows and asked smirking “are you a
terrorist?”

Something stopped me from answering “yes.”

Later strolling in that amber garden light as the night grew
young,


I continued to wonder,

“What is a warfare guy doing at a poetry reading?”

“It’s the free beer,” in a tall glass that he held
Daintily with a paper napkin.

That’s not the mark of a clever strategist

To reveal one’s real occupation, that of a killer, like
that, I thought.

If he had brains he would be a poet instead

Camouflaging real intent with difficult twisted words

Dealing in intangibles in another grey world

Where hate is not the opposite of no-love,

And love is hopelessness
But never hate;

Training weapons and missiles that aim inward

In an endless process of creation and destruction

And the infinite variations of it;

Working the silent odourless tortured dark

To manufacture some semblance of beauty, solace;

Finding comfort in pain, unleashing desire, taming death,

And the rest of it!

With so many major battles being fought on the map in his
head,

Did my fellow traveller think he would find some rest here?

Or was it really the free beer?

Would it help our friend in defence

To deal with potential terrorists (like me)

Better after attending a poetry reading
On a night like this?

What were the lessons learned?

Would his belief in hate be reinforced?

(Because poets never find love, anyway).

So kill all those buggers. Yay!

As poets snarl and growl, wearing pathos

On their sleeves, making no love, nothing;
Sipping bitter blue ink and soda,
Our very own warfare guy is a mean one

Making money to kill

(He is defending you, of course, he will say

Provided you’re not a terrorist {like me},

Then, of course, you’ve had it!).

So as things stand
poets don’t ever seem to find love or enough of it,

And arms dealers, knowing there’s none,

Capitalize on it and manufacture weapons instead.

I brought her still-pumping heart home


(My untidy zone where spilling a few drops is fine),

And tending it with utmost care put it in a tiny cage

Because even a heart can get tired and lonely sometimes.

Then it struck me if only that arms dealer had enough rage

He would be a poet instead;

This one just presses some right buttons to eliminate “enemies” at will.
What was a defence strategist, who bought and sold warheads,


Dealt with governments of powerful nations,

Hounded Maoists, terrorists, and other “threats”

To the government,

Wore the satisfied grin of a full belly,

Doing at a poetry reading?

Of course, I know the answer
And you do too,

He was here
For the free beer.

xvi.


interview

Mithun Dey
in conversation with poet Krishna Bose
“Allen Ginsberg was Sunil’s friend, philosopher and guide”

Mithun Dey: When did you first meet Sunil Gangopadhyay?
Krisha Bose: I met Sunil Gangopadhyay during a poetry session which was held in Chandannagar in 1965-66.

MD: How much is reading Sunil Gangapadhay a part of your job?

Sunil Gangopadhyay:(7 Sept, 1934-23 Oct, 2012)

KB: He is our most favourite as well as a major writer. I admire his poetry and prose. He was an eclectic writer and a genius of Bengali literature. He has enriched Bengali literature with his talent.

MD: Can you tell us something about the poet and Krittibas?

KB: Sunil was the founder editor of Krittibas — one of the leading and oldest Bengali little magazines, which was first published in Kolkata in 1953 when he was just 19. Shakti Chattopadhyay, Sarat Kumar Mukhopadhyay, Utpal Kumar Basu, Shankha Ghose, Tarapada Roy and Sandipan Chattopadhyay were actively associated with the magazine.

MD: Did you also have a literary association with Sunil babu?

KB: Yes. He was my favourite writer and a “cultural guardian”. We edited some poems for Krittibas. I was very interested in contributing in some way for the magazine, and since then it has become a part of my literary life.

MD: Tell us something about his mentor Allen Ginsberg.

KB: Sunil was very close to Allen Ginsberg when the latter was in India. He used Ginsberg’s guidelines and philosophy in his literary works. Ginsberg was Sunil’s friend, philosopher and guide.

MD: Let us know your thoughts on his very popular Neera Series of Poems.

KB: Sunil Gangopadhyay was a highly imaginative poet and writer. He was a born romantic. The series was very popular among the young readers.

 

MD: Sunil babu used Nil Lohit, Sanatan Pathak and Nil Upadhay as pen names. Do you believe there was any specific reason behind these names?

KB: It was a personal decision. Out of the three, he preferred “Nil Lohit”. A series of romantic novels written under this pen proved to be massively popular. The main character was Nil Lohit or Nilu, a 27-year-old cheerful unemployed youth, who held a huge fascination for the middle-class young readers, with his enthusiasm for taking a trip in the city of lost directions. Sunil babu painted his romantic nature perfectly in the book.

MD: Please draw a link between the hungry generation movement in Bengali literature and Sunil Gangapadhyay.

KB: Sunil didn’t play an important role in the hungry generation movement in Bengali literature during 1960s in Calcutta; Shakti Chattopadhyay was the man behind the movement.

MD: Sunil Babu created the Bengali fictional character “Kakababu”. What are your thoughts about this character?

Poet Krishna Bose

KB: “Kakababu” is an interesting character and a very popular one among the young generation. Sunil created a series of adventure stories in the popular Santu KakababuSeries.


MD: Do you think there was a particular reason behind his  huge popularity?

KB: Yes, it was his lust for life. He was a very passionate writer and loved human beings greatly. He was the man of vision.

MD: What is his contribution towards the new generation?
KB: He inspired the young with his literary genius. He was the leader of literary work and, I reiterate, a cultural guardian.

MD: Please list some of your favourite books written by Sunil Gangopadhyay.

KB: My favourite books are Purba-Paschim(East-West) and Jagoron Hemborno, a collection of poems.

MD: When and where did you meet Sunil Gangopadhyay the last time?
KB: The last time I met Sunil was on his birthday at his residence on September 7 this year. We celebrated the occasion in the best way we could.

MD: “Some of my work is still pending” is what the poet is believed to have said just before his death. Will you throw some light on his pending works?
KB: He was translating the Mahabharata from Sanskrit to Bengali and wanted to translate the Ramayanaas well. But sadly, with his sudden demise, his pen went dry.

xvii.
book review

Abha Iyengar
Falling Brick by Brick

This collection of 52 poems by Susheel K. Sharma (The Door Is Half Open) is an
eclectic mix. The themes run through most of the poems though, being Indian,
and also a coming of terms with age. There is the association of a certain
grief with both the elements. Some poems hanker after a past. Others soak in
spirituality; there is a desire to be one with God, to find peace.
The collection

opens with the first poem titled “Ganga Mata – A Prayer” (pp.1). The poet says: “I want the world / To be rid
of corruption” and “I don’t want to bury / The glories of the past.” The poet
literally exhorts the river to change the world by turning back the clock. The
poem spills out all that is wrong with today’s world. It is a prayer to Ganga
to flow like she once did. This long poem filled as it is with Sanskrit shlokas
and references, does not really allow a flow and cadence to develop. This river
of words does not read easy.
In contrast, the
poem, “Nithari and Beyond” (pp. 56), though a social commentary on today’s
India, drives home the point:
 “When the intact skulls of the
           Young innocent children are found

          In the big drain behind the house,”and concludes

with “You have reached my abode,/ Oh Yaksha!”
He is more evocative
when he asks, in “Passing By” ( pp. 74),
“Is it really very easy to pray
         In the cathedral?
 

           Is it equally very easy to prey

           In the neighbourhood?”
His play of words

(pray, prey) show us the falseness of prayer if one does not apply it in life.

Many of his
poems talk of masks which he has removed, as in “Crisis” (pp. 12),
         “I don’t have to look into
          My wallet to find a piece of paper
          To know who I am and to
          Wear a mask accordingly.”
And, more

subtley, he says in” Routine” (pp. 16): “I decided to walk on-foot / And become
part of the multitude.” In “Mangoes” (pp 44), the Indian’s love for mangoes
and the elements of worship and ritual of Nature and the fruits of nature appear:
“A mango stone/ Carries the whole civilization in it.” Or “A mango leaf is
needed to pour water / On every sacred occasion.”

Though the
poet’s voice is rather cynical and grave, he often surprises with imagery. For
example: in “Vanity”, (pp. 32), “Like rippled folds / Of a wrinkled bed sheet” and
in “Hope Is The Last Thing To Be Lost (pp. 88),
 

         “Hope descends from the sky

          Spreding its wings
          Around me like a dove.”
 

In the poem, “Granny”
(pp 75), he says, “Today I’ve seen a brick come out of the wall / In the
ancestral house in the ancestral street.”
The poet tries
to fix the brick back but without the cement it falls, and his foot escapes
being hurt. His grandmother, whom he is visiting here:

         “In her wheel chair when she breathed her last.
          She was remembering me.She

wanted me

          To take care of this house and make it my home.
 

          The dreams are not the visions.”

 

This poem really
sums up that even though the poet may want a return to the past, he realizes that
he himself is moving forward and cannot turn back time, (something he prays for
in his first poem). The ancestral home will fall brick by brick and be replaced
by a new one.

 
The collection
ends with the poem, “Liberation at Varanasi” (pp .91), and once again, it is a
plea to “…bring me to thy lap O Varanasi,” as the poet wants “…to find
answers / On the bank of the Ganges.”
 
This is a
collection of poems that turns the light both inward to examine the being and
outward to examine the world. The fact that it is so Indian in its references and
the use of a number of Hindi and Sanskrit words may make some readers struggle.
There is a glossary at the end, and also several reviews of the collection. The
glossary is needed (though because of the number of references it turns the
collection into more of a text to be understood). The reviews (42 pages!) merely add to the bulk
of the book and just a couple of short ones would have sufficed.
 

(Susheel Kumar
Sharma, The Door Is Half Open, New
Delhi: Adhyayan Publishers and Distributors, 2012, pages 141,

150.00/ US $ 10.00 /UK £ 15.00, ISBN:
978-81-8435-341-9.
)

book news

xviii.
Amit Chaudhuri wins Infosys Prize


University of East Anglia (UEA) professor and acclaimed author Amit Chaudhuri has won the inaugural 2012 Infosys Prize for outstanding contribution to the Humanities in Literary Studies.

Prof Chaudhuri is the author of numerous works, including five novels, most recently The Immortals (2010), a book of short stories, a book of poems, a critical study of DH Lawrence’s poetry, and the collection of essays Clearing Space: Reflections on India, Literature and Culture (2008). Among the awards he has won for his fiction are the Commonwealth Writers Prize, a Betty Trask award, the Encore Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction, and the Government of India’s Sahitya Akademi award.
xix.
FROM THE RUINS OF EMPIRE – The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia
By Pankaj Mishra
Illustrated. 356 pp. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
“Tagore, Gandhi, and later Nehru in India; Liang Qichao and Sun Yatsen in China; Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Abdurreshi al Ibrahim in the ruins of the Ottoman Empire—are seen as outriders from the main anticolonial tradition. But Pankaj Mishra shows that it was otherwise in this stereotype-shattering book. His enthralling group portrait of like minds scattered across a vast continent makes clear that modern Asia’s revolt against the West is not the one led by faith-fired terrorists and thwarted peasants but one with deep roots in the work of thinkers who devised a view of life that was neither modern nor antimodern, neither colonialist nor anticolonialist. In broad, deep, dramatic chapters, Mishra tells the stories of these figures, unpacks their philosophies, and reveals their shared goal of a greater Asia.” (From the blurb)
contributors
Shanta Acharya is an internationally published poet, scholar, reviewer, and writer. She is the author of nine books – including five collections of poetry and her doctoral study, “The Influence of Indian Thought on Ralph Waldo Emerson.” Her latest poetry
collection is Dreams That Spell The Light (Arc Publications, UK; 2010).
www.shantaacharya.com
Bipin Patsani has published poems in Indian literature, JIWE, Kavaya Bharti, Chandrabhaga and Brown Critique etc.
He has three poetry collections to his credit and two more are ready for the press. Some of his poems have been translated
into Spanish and Portuguese.

Indah Widiastuti (Born 1971) is Faculty in Department of Architecture, School of Architecture, planning and Policy development – Institute of Technology Bandung (ITB), Indonesia. Poetry has been her hobby but she only started writing poems intensely since 2010 during her 4 years stays in India. Some of her poems have are published in the Stagebuzz (May Issue 2011) and Indianrunminations (May Issue 2011) webmags and an anthology: Words on the Winds of Change (2012), By Brian Wrixon and Poets For Social Justice, Blurb creative publishing service.

Abhay K. a poet-diplomat, is author of seven books including four poetry collections. His forthcoming collection of poems is titled Seduction of Delhi.
Bireswar Halder is a poet based in Guwahati. He has been writing poetry since last 15 years. Mr Halder`s works have been published in The Assam Tribune and The Sentinel, the most leading English dailies in Assam as well as the NE region and his works also published in some special souvenirs. Halder is a Gazetted Officier in Accounts Department, N.F. Railway, Maligaon, Guwahati.
Indu Muralidharan is a writer from Chennai. Her work has been published in MuseIndia, Life Positive, the Kritya Poetry Journal, the Poetry Chain Journal, The New Indian Express and the Writers Workshop anthology A New Book of Indian Poems in English. Her first collection of poems On a Saturday Afternoon was published by Writers Worshop, Kolkata in 2002. Her first novel will be published by HarperCollins in 2013.
Ananya Bhattacharya is an ametuer poet; she lives and works in the New delhi area.
Paul C. Blake is a contemporary artist and writer based out of Georgia, U.S.
Priya Sarukkai Chabria is a poet, writer and translator. Her publications include Dialogues and Other Poems (2005) reprint (2006) and Not Springtime Yet (2008) about which Dennis Nurkse writes, “…her work is absolutely extraordinary… She has an amazing ability to handle historical and mythic material in ways that make them completely new” and novels The Other Garden (1995) and Generation 14 (2008) of which Sruthi Khanna writes, “ great poetic power and beauty …creates imaginative space for compassion in the midst of all the grotesquery”. Sarukkai-Chabria edits the Website Talking Poetry and edited the anthology 50 Poets 50 Poems. Recipient of Senior Fellowship to Outstanding Artists from the Indian government, she has worked with the Rasa Theory of Aesthetics, co-founded a film society Friends of the Archive and collaborated with classical dancer Malavika. She has been invited to The Writer’s Center, UK; Alphabet City’, Canada; Frankfurt Book Fair etc. and many literary festivals in India.  Her work is published in numerous international journals and Websites, and anthologized. Immersions: Bombay/Mumbai,a book of literary essays is forthcoming with Niyogi Books in 2013 as is a book on Indian cinema with HarperCollins. She is translating eighth century Tamil mystic poet Aandaal to be published by Zubaan. She’s at www.priyawriting.com
Smruti Patil is working as an Integration Consultant and residing in California, USA. She was brought up in Delhi and completed her graduation from SDM college, Dharwad. After working in an IT firm in Bangalore for few years, she moved to USA. Writing has been she passion from my school days, when she started with small poems/articles as part of school curriculum and activities. Gradually her interest to write gained new heights and now she spends most of her free time writing fiction and on life experiences. Few of my articles and poems have been published in Spark Magazine’s August, September and October 2012 issues.
Wribhu Chattopadhyay lives in Durgapur where he is working in a school under the government of West Bengal. His poems have been published in the U.S., the U.K., and in India. His writes in Bengali and English, and his writings in Bengali have been published in Bangladesh and West Bengal.  He is working on his first novel at present.
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.
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.”
For Tapas Bandyopadhyaya, poetry is man’s effort to catch in words feelings and thoughts that elude capture. Though he has been writing poetry for over fifteen years, he has not, till recently, felt the need to publish them. However, his few submissions have been published by the Statesman, Kolkata and Asia Writes, a web magazine. He has also been felicitated by the Sahitya Academy for translation of Bengali poetry.
Gayatri Majumdar is a writer, poet, and publisher and editor of brown critique.
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.
Abha
Iyengar
is a freelance poet
and writer. Her work has appeared in Insolent Rudder, Tattoo Highway,
Dead Drunk Dublin, Danse Macabre, The Fabulist and others.
She is a Kota Press Poetry Anthology Contest winner. Her story, ‘The High Stool
‘ was nominated for the Story South Million Writers Award. She writes articles
on spirituality and travel. Her poem-film, “Parwaaz,” won a
Special Jury prize in Patras, Greece. Her book of poems, “Yearnings
was published recently. She is recipient of the Lavanya Sankaran Writing
Fellowship for 2009-2010. She can be reached at her email – [email protected].

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