January-February 2017

I.

Will Daunt       

The Blind Horse                                                                                                 poems

He sees us through the canvas gauze

of scrubland grass and crusts of soil,

as if those wind-swiped miles of sand

are palettes, scratching at our souls.

He watches every word we say — the songs we sketch, these dafty notes —

and feels each step that dents the ground

we’ve wandered, through his day-long nights.

He looks across the dust we’ve stirred

and senses all our loves and lies,

the homes we  make or wreck, and leave,

and friends we  need, but fool and lose.

His darkness throws its candle hues

through landscapes blinding us, like haze.

A Slight Rise

Like heating, set for dawn,

their carriage rattles and jars

through dykes and wires that crease

and mesh the untucked fields,

where counterpane-horizons glow

with curtain-light, the kind

that used to splice them, waking.

Lost in this imprint of living,

they journey here, remotely,

and watch old orchards flinch

and vanish, like gagged alarms.

Three hawthorn-hugging paddocks

end at an upland lump,

and bramble banks will see him doze

past thickets of knotweed.

She’s counted the prisons.

Northern Cords

I can see myself lost on a northerly shore,

with fishing boats hung on the swell, lifting breeze

and a sense of what our tiny lives might be for.

And winter’s a stint on the work-blasted moor.

In its clung-over scrub, trudging up to our knees,

I can see myself lost on a northerly shore.

Those low crofts and becks’ gravitational draw

stitch peat-scapes of hope, colliding with trees

and a sense of what our tiny lives might be for.

Far from beach caves and stalled by a different roar

in the concrete dunes, swept with petroleum wheeze,

we see ourselves lost on a northerly shore.

With our eyes wet with wind, and ears smugly sore,

it’s easy to dream we could weather the freeze,

with a sense of what our tiny lives might be for.

Where’s winter best spent: at the cold, Celtic core,

or scrawled in some urban parentheses?

Better losing the self on a northerly shore,

with a sense of what this tiny life might be for.

July, 2006

Those days unpicked the days

when roads were molten, smelt like flesh

and wizened stuff fell out of trees.

Home-timbers swelled and shrank as tides

in far, imagined seas

and many drew their own equator.

Undogs rolled in hard-caught shade

where hoses snaked about

and coarse lawns grilled to tinder.

Evenings stalked tough afternoons

becoming homes of languid fun

where offices were gardens, and

likewise, air-conditioned lives

turned up the dial, cooled down

and turned it higher. Always higher.

No Network

There is an instant of panic and bliss

when the migrant in more of us checks

their pouch, unslides a screen or keypad

and reveals a sudden signal loss.

It’ll go in the strobing underground

or stutter in stony cells or squares

and give up the most in a hole of hills,

but worst and best of all is at dusk

by a quayside of texted, loud goodbyes:

some gangway which hauls our partied pairs

at diagonals to their everyday —

that nattered, flattering froth, and then

clouds clear and seas turn cream. Stern first,

these peeling ferries face recurring

islets, headlands, inlets, peaks and lochs

that silence such pathetic phones, and fuss.

Munich Airport, 1958-2008

Planes, compact as Airfix, stall

while larger players jostle, roar

and run away everyway. We stop dead.

Fields as good as gone extend,

executed like an English park

and empty as a church yard.

A world at grass waits to cut loose,

aloft. And guess who’s next:

a solid jolt, and steel and rubber

beat the tarmac. Breathe in diesel.

Distance glazed, this tilts and slides,

yet heaven’s safe, and soon

the map of hamlets clears below.

In that happy space, recall

thin, hidden scars of Manchester

alive and lost beneath, for fifty springs.

II.

Anu Majumdar                                                  2 poems

New Maps  

  1. no one knows

why this road never stops.

at noon, when the sun

burns your feet

there is a waterlily somewhere

dozing with the frogs.

when the road changes

it happens without warning:

like a kingfisher

striking through water

shaking up the frogs.

you watch the world

roar through your mind, full claxon.

the kingfisher sits still.

  1. a second

of unstoppable light

penetrates the day —

and children know

where the fire burrows

its ripe laughter.

  1. when summer leaves  leave

their greenness in the dust

the postman forgets your letter

because he must

tell a friend

that though the wars

have not yet ended

his new born daughter’s cry

so piercingly free,

will never again be silenced.

  1. walking with words

further than

all my destinations

everything weighs in gold —

even the tiniest

speck of dust.

The Idiot Hour      

1.

It readies for war.

The dust is changing

The dewdrop still.

One man’s lust

On the world’s till

Beckons for more destruction,

A smile upon his lips

As you fall.

Do not fall.

Rise

Till you touch

The turning point in the stars.

  1. No truth will be told tonight:

Men in black

Men in banks

Men in armoured tanks

Men in power

Men ready to fire

But no truth at all for the asking.

Prisoners will be tortured

Soldiers will go blind

Men and women will die

Children will have no more songs.

Truth will be killed by silent drones

As men turn away,

As they fail to notice anything,

As they walk away satisfied

With all the contracts.

No truth will be told tonight:

Carbon footprints will trade,

Greenhouse gasses will parade,

New deals will spring

And piously, cows will be taxed

For farting methane,

While the bombs keep raining

By the megaton

To keep some inconveniences at bay.

Truth will be a game

Of counterfeit from tonight Till the earth finally plays her ace.

III.

  1. P. Sarkar A Poem of Mistimed Folly                                                               poems A poet yearns for light and writes with pain and delight.  He dips his pen in sorrow or pain. He writes an ode as if he really rode many times roughshodon the scene of crime or visited in time. Sometimes it may appear silly. He might be at pain to drive his pen for a poem of mistimed folly.

God said, “Let there may be light and there was light.” Man got dispersed in delight. Soon they recognized their right to force down a fierce fight with others and exercise their right. A poet prefers not to sing a song on what is right or wrong. He does not want to prolong issues where he does not belong.   Still love finds a home and peace an archaic dome in a poet’s heart to pervade his art not to depart.  Musing Upfront

I would have been happy if not lucky  to have seen an invalid old walking along straight and bold, an young playing prank like a child notoriously shouting but not wild or a dead man walking down the street. I have thought it often. Perhaps that cannot happen and I retreat as a misfit in the world of fit.    iv. Arathi Menon                                                                  3 poems The Crocodile Came for Breakfast                                                                                                                    He pointed at his upside down tents Claimed they need to chew I tossed him a bread, he spat at it And began to gnaw my daily demons. He hiccupped twice, politely asked for water I dropped a pet theory In two snaps, ‘twas gone Leaving behind a mood swing. His tail began to swish, a sign I quickly halved my legs, pray It didn’t help, not one bit He had eaten God, the last time he came. He gave a mock burp, he wasn’t full I shrugged my shoulder, offered a question He leered said he was full up on answers Couldn’t I serve anything more? I cannot tell you what I finally gave him But he snores content at my feet Occasionally, he smiles at what he took I sit still, it’s just another thing gone. The Lettuce Love Song Peel me off Layer by layer Running cold water To chill my worms Shake me dry Wipe me warm Toss and whip Mayo-drench me Salad fork, drippy sauce Pierce my innards Pause the time Before you bite Kiss me goodbye.

The Manifesto of The Repressed

We are not really sure we have the right to have this manifesto.

If we do, we hope it’s okay to say what we want.

We intend to cause nobody any harm; we are sorry if it does.

We wonder how many rights can we have, is there a number limit?

Some people think we are talking bullshit; they may be partially right.

The people who are partially right insist they are fully right; we may agree with them.

We actually think everything is fine; there is no need for this.

  1. Nakul Parashar                                                 2 poems            

The Blue Line Connection

every morning, early morning i walk up to my balcony i walk upto welcome the rising sun i walk up to to sight that fast moving metro that traverses where i lived once that crosses my river which survives that dunce thereby teaching me to move on thereby teaching me to reprove on the challenges, the day yes, to slay the grey yes, to pave my way to a love-filled path to a life where i earn no more wrath to a life where love has no math self-less, keeping you ahead of me zealous, binding you n’ me with a thread of be beauty par excellence, I praise your creators strength of renascence, I raise your indicators with all honesty & righteousness, indeed are hard to find with no travesty & no creed, no bard can grind

said enough, your sound you’re my metro, even if you hound I owe it you my blue line,  I love you for that perfection  I love you for your direction I love you for giving my blue line connection

night every night

whether there’ll be a morning who knows well, I don’t

beats of the heart they say, what it may silently take you, pull you away to smile at the dawn every night again it’s a wrinkle-owned frown routine is, it is shukrana is, it is miles to go they claim before I sleep who knows, well I don’t

for promises to be broken for commitments to be shaken truth’s pretty brazen yet clarity’s shapeless as a raisin firm and resolute for you, I’ll shun  for you, I’ll annul temptations, lust for sweet celebrations, destined for that meet will that be my win or yours who knows well I don’t

VI.

Varda Genossar                                                                                             3 poems

By the Sea

By the Dead Sea our bodies shine In a cuprous light, Your mouth licks salt from my wounds. We relax as we see float above us. With such ethereal ease The heaviness of stars, Ride buoyant on the Great Bear Turning On the wheels of brightness. And how come We were mistaken to think they Resemble our souls.

A Good Trip

You enfold Jerusalem in compassion, bypass the tunnel of pain Learn to operate roadside bombs of simulated thinking, In the back seat lies the grief kit packed with care, When we cross the separation line, fear like fuel Will self ignite on the fingertips.

The earth clings to the dead, the dead cling to our memories. Again the street faces resurrection, and heavy shaded sycamores Offer a new view, a gust of fresh air for our own resurrection.

*

You were whole on leaving, and split on return, An evil fence stood on the doorstep, And all the barriers came down in the face of the war.

You departed meekly and returned in an unholy protective vest. A dove perched on the window, and the displaced olives witnessed The earth weeping to the depth of its soul.

Breathing Crown

First Look, new outdoors. The morning notes: There’s a hedge, not alive, not green Creeping breathing down my neck. A hedge arises, a hedge sleeps on. And it was morning, and it was night.

Second look: it needs hills around it, those draped in the clouds of coming winter. Take a moment with the brown cows, reminding us of the milky coffee we did not drink together, and the nice taste it left on the palate lingers on still missed.

VII. Sikha Sinha                                                                                                                                     fiction

Rain Clouds

Prakash Saxena’s mood was as gray as the sky above him.  He got on a train to Penn station with his fellow commuters.  The Blackberry vibrated on his belt, indicating incoming email.  He pulled it out, trying not to elbow the passenger sitting next to him.  No progress, still trying— he read the first one.  He scanned the others that carried the same negative tone.  He looked at his watch and shifted in his seat.  It was still early, and he would have at least half an hour to revise the brief before the meeting.

“Good Morning,” his secretary greeted Prakash in the hallway to his office.

“Good Morning, Susan.  Get me two Advils and some Pepcids.  Please hold all the calls till 9.”  He walked into his office.

The air of the room chilled his shoulders as he hung his jacket on the back of his chair.  The dress code in July was casual, but Prakash did not believe anything inside his office should be casual.  He wore a gray linen suit with a blue tie, virtual uniform for his workplace.

Susan came in and put a glass of ice water and a few tablets in a small cup on top of his desk.  Her eyes were on the red thread tied around his wrist.

“Another family gathering,” he said, following her gaze.  “The same spicy food that kept me awake all night.  And you know this case —’’

She nodded.  “Today is your wife’s birthday.  Should I call the florist?”

“Please do.  And make a reservation at Mim’s at eight.  She does not want to come to Manhattan anymore.”

“Don’t forget to take the pills.”  Susan left the room, closing the door behind her.

He liked Susan, her motherly concern and her dedication to her work.  She had been with this law firm for many years before he became one of the partners.

Prakash swallowed the pills with a few gulps of water, laid out the papers on his mahogany desk, and rolled out the sleeves of his crisp white shirt. There was nothing he could add to this report, yet he went over the points he had already memorized.  If he did not win this case, it would not be so terrible.  But it was hard for him to accept failure, no matter how small.  He leafed through the pages until none was left unread.

All his life, he had battled his way through the barriers of language, culture and race.  Now the success had given him high blood pressure and a chronic ulcer at the age of forty five.  With the help of his doctors he barely managed to maintain a slender body and cope with his discomfort.  He rolled down his sleeves and looked at the red thread on his wrist that had been tied by the priest, as a symbol of blessing after a religious gathering at his friend’s house.

On weekends at the parties, he liked to play cards, drink scotch and eat chicken kabob.  But yesterday there had been no alcohol and no meat, and the host did not allow gambling.  After the religious ritual, the guests had nothing to do but talk to each other.  The crowd had formed into two groups, ladies-only and the men-only.   Prakash was tired of listening to the bragging of his friends about building their wealth.  He opted to walk in the garden.

“Professor Saxena?” a female voice called out to him.  She was sitting on a bench in the garden; her red chiffon scarf fluttered in the wind.

“Yes, and you?”  He tried to remember her name.

“I’m Aasma.”  She adjusted her scarf.  “I was in your class at N.Y.U.  I’m Bimal Gupta’s daughter.”

He should have remembered this beautiful young face. “No one has called me ‘professor’ for a long time. That was when I filled in for Mr. Goenka for one semester.”

They talked for a while, mostly about that semester when Aasma struggled being a freshman at the law school.

“Where are you working now?” he asked.

“I’m still in school, interning in a small firm for the summer.”  She paused.  “I took some time off after Daddy passed away.”

Prakash thought about her father’s sudden death.  “Your father and I went to the same high school in India.  He was three years senior to me.”  He regretted not keeping a closer connection with Bimal and his family.

“I know.  Daddy often talked about you,” Aasma said. “He loved to talk about the swimming contest that happened every year at your village.”

“That river was wide and Bimal crossed it every year, swimming ahead of everyone.  Did he tell you that my brother and Bimal paid a coconut collector to get lessons on how to climb a coconut tree?”

“And your brother fell off twice and pretended to have head injury, a good excuse to stay home from school.”

“Yes, the second time my mother caught on his lie and sent him back to school.”

They laughed together. At the end of that evening he had given her his card.  “Feel free to call me if you need anything.”

“Everyone is waiting for you,” Susan’s voice on the intercom alerted Prakash.  He put on his jacket, tightened the knot of his tie, and walked towards the conference room.

The day dragged on as nothing could be done to improve the status of the case.  In the evening Prakash met his wife, Geeta, at Mim’s.  It became one way conversation at the table as she filled him in with the bits of news about their teenage daughters having a vacation in Spain, about his brother in India needing money, about the gossips at her ladies-only Kitty party.  Her hair was in a loose bun, her lips a deep, dark red.  Her purple sheer sari draped on her shoulder, revealing a silk blouse of the same color.

“Manju called today.”  Geeta took a sip of her wine.  “She said her daughter, Aasma, was talking about you.”

Prakash straightened up his back and lifted his head.  “About me?”  Then he remembered.  “Oh, yes.  I had a nice talk with her at Sharma’s puja.”  In the course of his busy day, somewhere in his head Aasma had made a little room to stay and that amused him.  He sipped his scotch.

“You know Manju sells Salwar-suits from home, not an easy life after Bimal’s death.”

Prakash nodded with a sigh, but right now he did not want to talk about Manju or Bimal.  He wanted to talk about Aasma.  “Aasma is graduating next year.”

“Thank God for that.  That girl gave Manju a very hard time, dropping out of school right after Bimal died.”  She took a bite of a fried shrimp. “Do you remember that they went back to India selling their house, car, everything?  Someone in my Kitty had told me that Aasma was in a sanitarium for a while.”

Prakash could not recall any of those episodes that his wife might have reported to him, but he pretended that he did by nodding his head.

“Manju said that Aasma took her father’s death very hard and she still blames the Indian community for his death.”

“What do you mean?’

“You know how our kids talk about us!  That after coming to America, we have become so competitive, so obsessive to accumulate wealth and build our status that we don’t know how to enjoy our life!  Manju said that Aasma thinks that her father could not cope with this kind of life style, and the stress of it had killed him.”

The Image of Aasma laughing, throwing her head back, lit up in his head. “Aasma seemed to be in a good spirit last evening.”

“Of course, Manju had not mentioned anything about the sanitarium in Darjeeling.  She said that they could not live in India, and it would be hard to get a good suitor there for Aasma after she came out of the sanitarium. Now Manju just wants Aasma to finish her study and marry a nice Indian boy.”

The waiter brought the dessert cart.

“Let’s have some cheese cake,” Geeta said.

Prakash did not see any hope to continue the recent topic of his interest.

The week passed miserably at the office.  Prakash popped pills in his mouth like Tic Tacs and ate Rice Crispies for breakfast, lunch and dinner for four days.  By Friday morning he gave up and decided to move on to a new case.  He looked at his planner, and was pleased to see the rest of the day free of anything important.  He scanned over the stack of his phone messages.  One of them was from Aasma.  She had called him two days ago.

He punched her number on the phone pad.  “It’s Prakash Saxena.  May I speak to Aasma?”

She was available to see him for lunch.

After hanging up, Prakash tried to remember their conversation in the garden at Sharma’s house.  Nothing was unusual about Aasma coming to see him.  Many people had stopped by his office before, asking him for jobs and other favors.  Why this one seemed to be special?  He was looking forward to seeing her.  What was the matter with him?  Aasma was only a few years older than his daughters.  Why was he so anxious to see her?  Maybe, because she had rescued him from the utmost boredom of that evening.  She had no one her age at the puja, so she might have been bored as well and bumped into him in the garden.  It was also possible that she was in search for a connection in the job market.  Climbing up the ladder of success and accumulating a sizable wealth, Prakash, to his dismay, had become cynical.  Along with his ulcer and high blood pressure he had gained a keen sense of people and their motives.  By now he should have figured out what Aasma wanted from him.

Around one o’clock Susan announced Aasma’s arrival.  He went to the waiting room to meet her.  In a blue tank top and a pair of jeans she looked younger than the last time, when he had seen her in Salwer-kameej with the red scarf.  Her hair was tied neatly in a bun.  Two gold hoops hung from her ears.  Her shoulders and bare arms were chocolate brown.

Prakash took in the sweet aroma of her skin as he moved closer to greet her.  “Hi, Aasma.  Come to my office.”

“The air is freezing here and the outside is so warm.  I brought sandwiches; if you don’t mind, we can eat in the park.”

Prakash had to think.  Lunch at the park?  His office had a beautiful view of Central Park, but he never had lunch there before.  In fact he never had lunch in any open space.

Aasma picked up her denim shoulder bag.  “If that’s a problem…”

“No.  It’s okay.  Let me tell my secretary, and we’ll be out of here.”

Prakash, in his impeccable gray suit, and Aasma, in her blue tee and jeans, walked side by side toward the park, the skyline jagged with roofs and windows of the skyscrapers.  He was thinking about the look on Susan’s face when he had told her about his lunch at the park.  “My cell phone is on,” he had assured her.

Amused and curious, he walked on the cobble-stoned sidewalk that rimmed the park.  Aasma walked with ease in her sandals, while, in his Bali shoes, Prakash tried to keep up with her pace.

Near the gate she stopped at a hot dog vendor.  “I didn’t bring any drink.  What would you like?”

“Water is fine.”

There were so many people having lunch at the park.  Prakash looked around to see if he knew anyone.

Aasma found a spot in front of a big rock.  “Let’s sit here.”

“I see you come here often.”

“Not as much as I’d like to.”  She took out a brown bag and sat on the grass.

Prakash looked at the spot next to her and slowly lowered himself down.  “What’s in the bag?”

“Nothing fancy…cheese and tomato sandwiches.  Good for your weak stomach.”

“You know about my weak stomach!”

Aasma turned her head toward him, lifted her chin, and handed him the sandwich.  “You told me about it.”

“So, what are you up to?” Prakash asked.

“Want to spend a little time here.”

“No, I mean your future plan.”

“I don’t have any, not yet.  I enjoy being a student now.”  She took a bite of her sandwich.

“You should look for …”

“Let’s not talk about work.”

He became speechless.  He would wait for Aasma to start their conversation.  He busied himself with his sandwich.  After a few bites Prakash noticed that there was only one bottle of water from which Aasma had already taken a few sips.  He wanted to take a sip, but decided to wait a little longer.

“You can drink the water,” she said.  “You won’t get any sicker than you are.  We humans share this earth, and we are pretty immune to each other.”

He took a few sips.  “What else do humans do besides sharing the earth and drinking from the same bottle?”

“We could look at the sky and watch the clouds.”  She released her long hair from the tight bun.

Prakash caught a whiff of that brown wave.  “Looking at you, I am looking at the sky.  Your name is sky in Hindi.”             For the first time Prakash saw her moist cheeks became red and brown eyes downcast.  He wanted to take back his words.  What was wrong with him?  Why was he flirting with her?  As she tucked a stray hair behind her ear, he saw the gold hoops swinging, too large for her small face.  She got up to throw the scraps in a trashcan.

“Let’s take our shoes off,” she said when she came back.  “We can lie down here and watch the clouds.  Look at that one,” she pointed towards the sky, “that looks like an alligator.”

“How did you know that used to be my favorite thing to do when I was a kid, a hundred years ago?”  He relaxed his shoulders.  He took his shoes off and loosened his tie.  He hoped it was legal to lie down next to her in the open area of the park.  He became keenly aware of the hint of gray in his head full of wavy hair.

Aasma was already lying on the grass, her eyes on the sky.  Prakash turned his cell phone off.  He looked down to see if there were any sharp objects that could poke him before he rested his back on the grass.  He left a considerable distance between them.  Was he really lying down next to Aasma with hoards of people around him?

“Close your eyes,” she said.

He felt nothing but her presence as soon as he closed his eyes.  He heard the sound of her breathing over the hum of the crowd.  A wisp of her spread out hair touched his ear.  The scent of her body reminded him of chameli of his childhood garden.  His back sank deeper into the earth as his limbs tensed.

“Look at that one.  It looks like you are climbing a mountain with a cane,” Aasma said.

“With a cane?”  Prakash opened his eyes and followed Aasma’s finger pointing to a heap of clouds above him.  “And I see you shaking hands with a bear.”

“Why bear?  Why not a handsome prince?”

“Is that what you want, a handsome prince?”

“I don’t know what I want.”  Her voice was serious.  “I know you have everything.  Do you want anything else?”

He turned his head and looked at her.  Aasma lifted her head and turned slightly towards him, supporting her upper body with her left arm.  Her elbow sank inside the grass.  Her face was too close to his.  He shut his eyes to stay in control.  He inhaled the humid air.

“I want to have a simple life,” she said.  “What’s the use of having so much that you can’t even enjoy it?”

He opened his eyes. “Are you are talking about your father?”

“Yes, and the most Indian men.”

“Including your present company, I suppose.”

“I am glad to see the smirk on your face.  At least the frown is gone.”  She looked directly at him.  “You think I have an easy life here.  At least that’s what my father used to say.  I know I never had to study by candle light, stand in line for kerosene, eat rationed rice like you and my father did in India.  But I, we have our own struggle.”  Aasma went back to her old position, relieving his tension.

Prakash cleared his throat.  He wanted to say something.

“I heard a lot about you from my father,” she continued.  “I admired the way you taught our class at N.Y.U.  So I came to see the real you, not the one you let the others see.”

Prakash wanted Aasma to talk forever.  The sound of her voice lingered in the air.  Her every word was made of happiness that he could almost touch with his fingers.

“Look,” she lifted her torso and pointed to a brown shaggy dog that was sniffing his shoes.

The dog ran back to its owner as soon as he sat up.

“Imagine the scene…Mr. Prakash Kumar Saxena walking into his office without his shoes on.” Aasma broke into a laugh, tilting her head back.

“That’d definitely be a first.”  Prakash joined in the laughter with her.

Aasma looked at the sky above.  “Do you know anything about clouds?”

“They make rain and snow.”  That was not what he wanted to say.  “There was a poet Kalidas who wrote, Meghdut.  He personified the clouds as messengers who carried notes between two young lovers separated by miles.”

“I read Meghdut,” she said.  “Two years ago, I was on the foot of Himalayan range, studying Buddhism in the Ghoom Monastary in Darjeeling.  The lamas taught me a lot about clouds, especially the ones that make the storms and rain.  The nimbus cloud brings nimbo, Latin for rain.”  Aasma gathered her hair to make a bun like the one she had when she came to the office.  “Do you still read poetry?”

“I haven’t for ages.”  Prakash put his shoes on, and remembered what his wife had told him about Aasma being in Darjeeling.  A blade of grass was caught in Aasma’s hair, but he did not remove it.

Aasma took out a slim book from her bag.  “I want you to have this…a famous Kashmiri poet wrote this.”  She scribbled something on a page inside the book.  “Read it when you can.”  She stood up and slipped her feet into her sandals.

“I can give the book back to you next time I see you.”  He stood up, holding the book.  How he hated to end this afternoon.

“Keep the book.  You are a busy man, and I took up a lot of your time.”  She gently dusted the upper arm of his jacket.

Prakash had to resist hugging her.  He wanted to whisper in her ear, “I want to do this again.”  But all he could say was “Thank You.”

It was three o’clock when the bus came and took Aasma away.  Prakash watched the bus disappear amidst the traffic of Fifth Avenue.  He dragged his feet to the office.

“Susan, if I don’t have anything important, I’d like to go home early,” Prakash said.

“Nothing that can’t wait till Monday,” Susan replied.  She had the same confused-cum-surprised look on her face as before when he had gone out for lunch at the park.

On the train Prakash held the black and white book, The Half-Inch Himalayas, by Agha Shahid Ali.  Inside the cover, the blue ink scribbling read, ‘Call it an epiphany, if you will…Aasma.”  He rubbed the letters, and in his head, he tried to store the scent that had clung to him for the past two hours.  Then he read the poet’s words:

‘And my memory will be a little

out of focus, in it

a giant negative, black

and white, still undeveloped.’

When Prakash got home his wife looked at him the same way Susan did before he left the office.  “You’re home early.  You have grass on your shoes and on your jacket.”

He walked away without giving her an explanation.  What was he going to say?  Would she understand if he told her the truth?  That he laid on the grass in Central Park, next to Aasma?  It was hard for him to believe what had happened to him this afternoon.  He had a sudden urge to keep those moments to himself.  He let the grass stay on his shoes and on his jacket when he took them off.   Before coming into the kitchen, he made himself a stiff drink, Johnny Walker Black on the rocks.  He avoided eye contact with his wife and kept the lie as simple as possible.  “Our firm sponsored a soccer game, and I had to be in the park to watch it.”

He felt like a kid.  His mother’s voice in Hindi rang in his head, ‘Look me in the eye and say it.’  His older brother had somehow managed to get away with the act, but Prakash could never master the art of lying while looking into his mother’s eyes, or any one else’s, for that matter.

He sipped his whiskey and watched the gold hoops on his wife’s ears glittering as she moved about in the kitchen.  They were better suited for her face.  He tried to stay in the present and catch the fragments of her idle talk.  Her birthday flowers on kitchen table still looked fresh.

‘Had a tough week, so I’d like to go to bed early,’ was his excuse to be alone.

In the bed he was aware of his wife’s movement in the hallway, the faint sound of telephone ringing, and her voice trailing off to silence.  As he sank deeper into the linen his breath evened out.  Once again he felt the grass on his back and saw a blanket of dark clouds hanging above him.  The scent he held in his head all afternoon long filled the air, and the clouds broke into rain.  The rainwater trickled down his forehead, over his cheeks and into his mouth.  He danced in the rhythm of raindrops.  He lost the sense of space.  The warm rain and its musty smell of the soil suggested he could not be anywhere but in the land of his childhood.  All night he stayed in the state of half wake and half sleep.

For days and then for weeks Prakash hoped for one particular telephone call in his office.  He was seized with desire to see Aasma.  She could make him happy again, and he was certain about that.  But he knew the price of that happiness.  He could never call her up.  What if he bumped into her at the park?  No one would blame him for that.

Prakash decided to go the park with Half Inch Himalayas in his hand on one Friday.  He walked the same path remembering every step that he had wanted to match with Aasma’s footstep.  He remembered the blue straps of her sandals.  His eyes were drawn to the gate.  Who was that?  His heart skipped a beat.  He saw Aasma with her hair down standing in front of the same vendor.  His steps quickened with his breath.  He pushed and shoved the people on the sidewalk.  “Aasma, wait,” he shouted.  He expected her to turn around.  He stopped short before he put his hand on her back.  It was a mistake.  “Excuse me,” he said with a sigh.  His expectation had played a trick on him.  He wiped the sweat off his forehead.  Hanging his head down, he went to the same rock, dappled with sunlight.

He sat down on the grass and watched a squirrel inching towards him.  How and when had he become so lonely?  Lonely and empty.  He had his family, his work, and his friends.  What was missing?  The clouds floated by.  There was Aasma with her head over a pillow of clouds.  Could he spot her gold hoops?  He watched the wind carry her body beyond the mountain of clouds where Aasma had imagined him to climb with a cane.

Every Friday Prakash came to the park to find a piece of blue sky, his neela Aasma.  He brought poetry books and read them aloud.  He borrowed those books from his library where he had never been before he met Aasma.  He hoped the same cloud would take his message to her, wherever she was.  He wanted to tell her that he read books on the train instead of checking his email.  He wanted to show her that he did not frown as much.  He wanted to confess to her how he had assumed that Aasma wanted something from him.  He scanned many faces to find hers.  He sank deeper into the grass with his eyes on the sky.  For those moments, he was reborn, free of responsibility, and free of dissatisfaction.  Here at the park he lulled his grief to rest.

VIII. Chandramohan S.                                                                         poem

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Burkini

“I created the burkini to give women freedom, not to take it away” — Aheda Zanetti

  1. Burkini is a language

Terrifying those ignorant of its text.

  1. Cops patrol her tan lines

Like dams patrol

Rivers flowing above danger marks.

3.All you need is in that bag:

Change into a garment

More palatable for the cops in uniform.

4.Some garments cling too close to your surname

Like a metaphor

Too loud for good poetry.

5.Sea surfing can be tiring

Like an infinite ebb and flow of a questionnaire.

Batting an eye lid can be a tad too immodest.

6.Tether yourself close to the beach.

Do not surf too deep into the ocean.

Never self-intersect in circles of knots and tangles.

7.Bruises sustained from frisking

Metamorphose into festering wounds.

Gangrene could gnaw at your surname.

8.Erase your footprints from the sands.

Waves of time rarely wash the footprints of a scuffle.

Prolonged scuffle can bury us all in a deep hole.

9.Do you remember the first corpse

The sea sucked off a turbulent beach?

The sea spat it out after three days of frisking.

10.The footprints of scuffle

Implicates you from shore to shore,

Blowing up all bridges between you and anyone.

11.During this conversation

Some territory has been ceded across

The tan lines of your body.

12.Your body stripped off the garment

Remains an evacuated language.

Can a language be a scarecrow?

13.History will catch up with you

In your rear-view mirror

Even if you are full throttle in your

Pursuit of happiness.

IX.

Bishnupada Ray                                                                    musings

 Flight

Under the boundless sky and the free atmosphere of imagination, how much this Aquarian space despises any sense of enclosure! When she cohabits with Nature, the senses become revelations of making love. Below the crystal clear water of a stream silvery fish play with shiny pebbles and overshadowed by the white clouds sailing across the sky to the great stirrings of the soul. The beauty and joy unfold like a new knowledge and a new consciousness clears the space for time. But with time beauty droops, joy fades and the space tires into claustrophobia. A smile of disdain or scorn appears at her lips and I feel the need of another piece of cutting edge knowledge. So I take to the road as a perfect symbol of space-time conjugation. My reckless driving is all speed and horn, which I rationalize only by my anxiety for reaching home safe. But the more I draw near any home, the more I am thrown back onto the road by the very home I conceive.

Consecutive Lines

I wish I could graft onto these pages pictures of the views I experience on my way to the countryside or the forests or any place of destination, views not merely picturesque but sublime. Photographs are pictures, direct and real pictures and I plan to make a gallery of such pictures like the sublime view of trees standing in mist and winter, bereft of leaves. After a winter rain the field has become so damp and cold, the yellow dry grass floating on small pools of water. The sky is overcast and the very view of chilled cloud sends a shiver of cold darkness around. Over the vast field along the road heavy cables are being fitted onto the giant pylons in the shape of giant human beings and the red sun goes down behind them in a mist. On the other side of the canal the trees and vegetation are so grey and barren. Everything about them is submerged in a pall of gloom. From a zooming distance the petals of a lotus appear like the ridges on the back of a dinosaur.

I want to keep a record of my pictures, to share them with myself in tranquility and instantly I feel the need of a camera to snap them into a reality of being. I use language to graft them onto these pages. But it is a slippery medium because the more I try to bring the landscape close to the pages the more it draws into me, more it recedes to the recesses of the mind. I see them retreating to the dark corners of the mind; getting stacked, folded and surrealistic with my words. I find myself like the blinking red light on the top of a tower or a pylon playing Sara’s cooking games in the internet. For the time being the landscape is neither nature’s nor mine but a series of neutral impressions floating like dry yellow grass on the pages, like the third space of consecutive lines.

X.

Megha Saha                                                           2 poems

Mrs. T

I understand why Mrs. T makes it a point

to see the doctor- physicals and otherwise;

It must be satisfying- getting to talk

about her nausea, unfettered-about how it bloats

her up and thumps at her epiglottis

as if it’s a floodgate.

At home, she lets her daughters stay just long

enough for them to realize that they’ve let

her down but not long enough to make amends;

You can see it in her in-between smile that she’s as

frail as china but as stubborn as her old bones

that bend over backwards and yet hold her up;

Mrs. T has been your age and does not care for

novelties ; Maybe she’s tired of comings and goings

of things-or in things that come and go;

In her defense, the sour-bread has always been sour

and Jesus has always been kind to truants and followers

alike.

The Perfect Gentleman (3 0z/ 90 mL)

If sugary dollops of what feels like

the rainbow hits you too hard, then

wait for the maraschino cherry bit that

will come to your rescue and settle

in your tongue; you will let it,

until the insides of the glass tumbler

begin to tremor in sync with the live

scat jazz.

You look around the snug little

place they call the ‘The Great Unwind’

and smile to yourself about how silly

it’d have been of you to have not come

here; the warm gin will eagerly walk

you to silent comfort-  like a possum’s back.

The mint sprig scent will come back

to you in a couple of tiny delicate

burps- three if you’re wild, to keep you

from hitting the floor with your head.

And if you’re still feeling oozy and like

less of a person, wait for the trusty

salted lime wedge to tend to your

adamant pout like your grandma would.

XI.

K.S. Subramaniam                                                    3 poems

The Lonely Piper

The piper ever felt the tune ringing

In the recesses, a steadfast companion

to his wearying, ongoing sojourn.

It was hope set in a receding skyline.

ItOften a sad query throbbed like whirlpools —

nascent steps  towards a milepost

and the blizzard that led him away;

Always the tune skimming over strings

the wind blowing leaves into disarray.

The tune was an aphrodisiac, a life-giver

the piper needed to egg him on;

From the mile post he had gone farther.

Somewhere won’t he find his lair?

Mileposts

Mileposts?  I give a guttural laugh at a

fancy that often jerks me with a numbing

pain;  almost like a scab that surfaces and

dissolves with an antidote.

Mileposts look so similar, also sinister

as if it is a shadow one chases with nose

buried in the sand; When it feels like you

have reached it, it appears a bit like stranger

In the distance; or the shadow  tantalisingly

evading  your grasp.

A mirage, delusion or reality? I would

only swallow the query, not digest it;

Ashes too taste good at times, right?

That’s a Far Cry . . .

So quiet is the corridor as I pace down,

the silence echoing the sublimity of the

snow-cloistered valleys; Neighbours,

young and old, in the cave of their own

cloying disquiet, venturing out to put on

the lights as dusk falls; The old feeling

the ache of sagging joints, wondering at the

gleam of morn turning into a black eve;

the young, feisty but browbeaten by care,

awaiting the tidings of a fresh dawn;

I love this silence, where the stings of

mundane wrangling, fall away like the

doodle of pigeons;  I love this quiet,

Its indentation of peace evoking the

essential divinity in a human being!

Oh! only . . . if he feels it.

That’s a far cry . . .

XII.

Sikha Sinha                                                   2 poems

River 

She woke up from her late afternoon nap

Fixed the folds of her silver chiffon sari She called me, come here little girl, Look at your left and then to the right See the long strip of stream – it’s me.

She spoke so softly, I had to tell the trees

To hold all their leaves still.

She whispered again, you can own me

Drop those coins into the ditch

I will flow for you forever.

I stood under the ancient bodhi tree

Threw the coins like pebbles in the river.

I sat on her ghat, the brick layered bank

I went down the steps to wet my feet

I scribbled ‘Ganga’, her name on a paper

Folded into a boat to sail on her body

Often I floated in the river’s warm arms

We played together in hot April rain.

She warned me of nor-eastern storm

For days I stayed inside my home

Then I saw pieces of tin roof

Floating on her swollen belly

I told her about the circus with silly clowns

She said the elephants came to bathe in her.

When daylight faded I came to the ghat

While my schoolwork waited for me at home

She always wore the brilliant ruby robe

Her lush hair flowing in a slow liquid motion.

She listened to my constant rambling

for which no one had any patience

She told me of the widows and the orphans

With whom I had no point of reference

She never frowned at my bare feet or dirty hands

But she sighed to see my black and blues

The other side street lights lit up in a row

I left when I saw a long shadow over her.

I fell into her in my dream

My skin glided from rock to rock

Under the fisherman’s net I saw her golden castle

And heard her musical laughter.

She changed her songs with seasons

I gave up my frocks and wore saris

I could not bathe in her open ghat anymore

When she invited me in her arms as before

I began to realize she knew more than she told me

And I told her more than I knew

I touched the mud, soil and stone

I held the river in the cup of my palm.

After I witnessed many great storms

I returned to her ghat of broken bricks

Bodhi tree bent down, touching the earth

Wide concrete road replaced the grassy land

I asked her, are you still mine

She wore the same smile on her fragile face

She said, you can’t disown me

I recognize your footsteps, remember your fragrance

Gather for me in my ghat to share your story

Soak into your childhood memory

I could not tell her now all that I knew

I saw the truth’s shadow caught inside a net.

Next day I walked the path along the river

My son held my hand, coins jingled in his pocket

My two daughters trailed behind us

spraying aromatic dust with their footsteps

The mystic twilight descended

From a distance, I saw a boy sitting on the ghat

His feet dangling like mine used to be

He took out the coins from his pocket

And threw them into her abyss

Waves treaded upon other waves

We walked past the ghat, my grip tighter on my son

My story turned into a stone inside the river.

Sari 

Thirteen was old enough, they said, to know shame

wrapping six yards of cotton against my skin;

was my shame six yards long? — I wanted to ask

those hands too eager to give me sense of sin

awkwardly, I carried the burden until it came quite naturally.

I reined in the folds on my left shoulder

arranged pleats hung unruly from my tiny waist

tightened loose ends around my hips

stood up straight, feeling taller than myself

draping starched cotton on my body’s wall, gracefully.

As the cloth grew on me I heard echoes calling me ‘woman’

I detected hints of greed, shadows of hands seeking loot,

stares so sly and slanted filtered through cotton and silk

waves of voices filled me with confusion

gathering my own wrap I ran for covers clumsily. In privacy I spun, flapping my wings, fancied ribbons

studded with sequins glittered over victory

march among admiring phrases, chanting praises

I whirled six yards of shame into

a flaunting flowing banner, magically.  11/9/08 XIII.

Rene Wadlow                                                                             article Kahlil Gibran: Spirits Rebellious                                     

At a time when armed conflict and strong socio-economic tensions cover much of the Middle East holdings of the old Ottoman Empire (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey) , it is helpful to recall the birth anniversary of a native son of the area and a positive voice for humanity. Kahlill Gibran, born 6 January1883, is one of the most quoted prose poets, especially his 1923 work The Prophet. In The Prophet, we are told that Almustafa, a holy man, has been living in exile, in a city called Orphalese for twelve years. A ship is coming to take him home to the island of his birth. People gather and ask him for his final words of wisdom — on love, on work, on joy, on children. The book has become bedside reading for all those who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious”.

            But there is also an earlier Gibran writing in Arabic, a critic of the political and religious conditions of his day — a set of four short stories bound together as Spirits Rebellious. (1) Soon after the publication of the original Arabic version ofSpirits Rebellious in 1908, considerable agitation developed. The book was publicly burned in the Beirut market place by Maronite Church and Ottoman State officials who judged it fiercely dangerous to the peace of the country. Gibran’s bitter denunciation of both religious and political injustice brought his anticipated exile from the country. As he was already living in Paris to study art at the time, it meant not returning to Lebanon rather than having to leave. However, he was also excommunicated from the Church, which can be considered serious in a country where much civil identity and justice was based on religious membership — not to mention the popular idea that God did not allow excommunicated souls into his Heaven.

      It was the short story “Khalil the Heretic” that set off the religious and political authorities. It is not easy when reading the story today, to see why the authorities got upset, but all book burning needs to be seen in the context of the day. Even today, writings or poems which would pass unnoticed in one country can provoke jail in another. So “Khalil the Heretic” is worth reading today, both as an example of the early Arabic writing of Gibran and of what attacks on church and state at the same time may cost. It is better to attack one at a time, not both together.

               “Khalil the Heretic” has some of the same structure as the later and better–known The Prophet: a person asks questions of the key figure who replies. In The Prophet, the answers are those of a mature man who reflects on his life experience in a calm voice. In “Khalil the Heretic”, the heretic figure Khalil is first asked by a young women, Rachel, why he has left the monastery where he was working, and later is questioned by a Sheik in a hostile confrontation. The spirit of the exchanges is more heated and bitter than in The Prophet but follow the same pattern:

          Rachel “How ventured you, brother, to leave the convent on such a terrible night, when even the beasts do not venture forth?                Khalil “The animals have their caves, and the birds of the sky their nests, but the son of man has no place to rest his head”.            Rachel retorted “This is what Jesus said about himself.”

            And the young man resumed “This is the answer for every man who wants to follow the Spirit and the Truth in this age of falsehood, hypocrisy and corruption.”

           Rachel “Is there any light, other than the sun, that shines over all the people? Are human beings capable of understanding the Truth?”

            Khalil returned, “The true light is that which emanates from within man, and reveals the secrets of the heart to the soul, making it happy and contented with life. Truth is like stars; it does not appear except behind obscurity of the night. Truth is like all beautiful things in the world; it does not disclose its desirability except to those who first feel the influence of falsehood. Truth is a deep kindness that teaches us to be content in our everyday life and share with the people the same happiness…Vain are the beliefs and teachings that make man miserable, and false is the goodness that leads him into sorrow and despair, for it is man’s purpose to be happy on this earth and lead the way to felicity and preach its gospel wherever he goes. He who does not see the kingdom of heaven in this life will never see it in the coming life. We came not into this life by exile, but we came as innocent creatures of God, to learn how to worship the holy and eternal spirit and seek the hidden secrets within ourselves from the beauty of life.”

             In the short story, Sheik Abbas is the symbol of the political authority and Father Elias the Church. They are united to share power among them for, as Gibran writes “In Lebanon, that mountain rich in sunlight and poor in knowledge, the noble and the priest joined hands to exploit the farmer who ploughed the land…Since the beginning of the creation and up to our present time, certain clans, rich by inheritance, in cooperation with the clergy, had appointed themselves the administrators of the people. It is an old gaping wound in the heart of society that cannot be removed except by intense removal of ignorance.”

          Of this State-Church alliance, he said “Through their wickedness we were divided amongst ourselves; and the better to keep their thrones and be at ease, they armed the Druze to fight the Arab, and stirred up the Shiite to attack the Sunni, and encouraged the Kurdish to butcher the Bedouin, and cheered the Mohammedan to dispute with the Christian. Until when shall a brother continue killing his own brother upon his mother’s bosom? Until when shall the Cross be kept apart from the Crescent before the eyes of God?”

          Khalil ends his speech to the Sheik with a call for liberty. “Oh Liberty, hear us, and speak in behalf of but one individual for a great fire is started with a small spark. Oh Liberty, awake but one heart with the rustling of they wings, for from one cloud alone comes the lightning which illuminates the pits of the valleys and the tops of the mountains.”

           By the time Kahlil Gibran died in 1931, he had lived most of his life in the USA in Boston and then New York, and wrote in English. The Prophet had been first published in 1923 and has always remained in print — read at countless weddings and funerals and translated into some 50 languages. By 1931, the Ottoman Empire had been broken, and its Middle East areas divided between France and England under the League of Nations Mandates system with Turkey becoming a separate State. The French who had the mandate for Syria broke off part of the coastal area that had a Christian minority and created the state of Lebanon. Gibran had been taken back into communion with the Maronites who did not want to leave the best-known Lebanese poet out in the cold. But Gibran was never a very orthodox Catholic. He was attracted to the person and sayings of Jesus but not to the organization. He had a knowledge of Arabic Sufi literature. He also knew Buddhist literature and appreciated it for the same reason: useful advice on how to live.

Notes: i. Quotations from Spirits Rebellious are from the translation by A.R. Ferris and published by PhilosophicalLibrary (New York, 1947, 121pp.)ii. For a biography, see: Barbara Young This Man from Lebanon, A Study of Kahlil Gibran (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945

Photo Credit: 1. Kahlil Gibran Memorial in Washington, D.C. – Creative Commons. 2. Kahlil Gibran – Creative Commons.

.

XIV.                                                                                                                                                                 book news

                                                                                                

brown critique books Fox Land & Selected Poems Bishnupada Ray Fox Land & Selected Poems by Bishnupada Ray is the most recent ‘contemporary Indian poetry in English’ book published by ‘brown critique’.

Bishnupada Ray’s new book, Fox Land and Selected Poems is a unique attempt to enshrine the hedgehog, the fox, i.e. the poetic-mystic in this de-poeticised world. Bishnu in his earlier book of poems (Winter Sky — also published by ‘brown critique’) has already touched upon issues related to the everyday, the ephemeral and the epiphenomenal as well as the primordial, but this new attempt on his part to encode the labenswelt of living in a semantic and symbolic menagerie of the fox land transpires into the Derridean hedgehogic nuances of the heart.

Get your poetry book published by brown Critique! We will publish a limited number of books annually. Send your queries to Gayatri at [email protected]

Fox Land & Selected Poems by Bishnupada Ray

brown critique 2016

ISBN 978-81-92684-29-1 Price: Rs 150

  1. Sun Publishing Sun publishing was launched in 2016 and is already out with three titles! The publishing house started as a hybrid between traditional publishing and the new wave of self-publishing. Sun works with new and emerging authors, providing guidance and an individual specialized approach to maximize publication distribution and exposure in the marketplace. Sun offers design, formatting, and editorial services along with highly effective marketing campaign leveraging social media and other web outreach channels, focusing on the publications desired audience.

Sun’s three titles

Beyond Milestones — A Journey Through Life Surinder Rametra & Akash Wasil

A Journey through Life is a heartwarming dialogue between grandfather, Surinder Rametra, and grandson, Akash Wasil, which began as an aim to impart a few of his life experiences, but turned out to be a joint effort, covering deep-rooted philosophy of life guided by the inner core. Profound in its feeling, Rametra shares his spiritual and interpersonal life learnings, through time and place that has long changed beyond recognition by what the world calls progress.

Price: Rs 300 (special Amazon price) ISBN: 978 0996 1240 03 Paperback

You can buy the book here.

Pastoral Pang Yet Hangs Mamata Karmacharya

A collection of poems from the Land of Himalayas — Nepal.

Originally written in Nepali by Mamata Karmacharya, this translated version takes one through the feelings of a non-resident Nepalese which has touch of innocence and being close-to-nature, those freeflowing rivers down the mountain side. How alone does the poet feel being away from her natural home has been quite beautifully crafted in her poems.

Price: Rs 150 (special Amazon price) ISBN: 984 0996 1240 65 Paperback

Majhe Nadee (in Bengali)

Sikha Sinha

 

Originally written in English (River in Between) the story is woven around the state of affairs with a young Bengali widow.

The River in Between is a dramatic telling of events revolving around the life of a young woman named Mira in 1960’s suburban Calcutta.

Price: Rs 250 (special Amazon price) ISBN: 980 0996 1240 27 Paperback

XVI.                                                                                                                         events & exhibitions

Seeking the Beloved Shah Abdul LatifAnju Makhija and Hari Dilgir ‘People for Pondicherry Heritage’ presented ‘Seeking the Beloved’, an evening with Shah Abdul Latif, the iconic 16th century Sindhi Sufi poet on 16 September, 2016 at Palais de Mahe in Puducherry. Anju Makhija, poet playwright and co-translator of the book read and conducted a talk. Excerpts of the film ‘So Heddan So Hoddan’ (‘Like Here Like There’) by Anjali Monteiro and K  P Jayasankar was screened.

Shah Abdul Latif: Seeking the Beloved is translated by Anju Makhija and Hari Dilgir. It is the first comprehensive English translation in India of Shah-Jo-Risalo, one of the greatest Sufi, Sindhi works in history. It was awarded the Sahitya Akademi English Translation Prize (2011). Latif’s poetry is deeply rooted in the human experience of searching for the self — a self that is one with the nirakaar, the omnipresent, centred within yet diffused as attar.

“Some are near

although far away

some are far

although near

we forget some soon

others we always remember

like the twisted horn

of a buffalo

my heart is entwined with you.”

(386/12)

Cappuccino Readings – Kitab Khana, Mumbai

POEMS UNDER THE JANUARY SUN: 27th Jan 2017

Featured poets: Kala Ramesh  Mihir Chitre  Meherin Roshanara  Tripurari Kumar Sharma  Laura Traister  Gayatri Majumdar  Devashish Makhija

Winters had been flirting with Bombay for a few weeks before we all sat down with our cups of chai and coffee at the gorgeous Kitaab Khana to listen to poetry. Scenes from North Carolina, Versova, Tunisia, Delhi and Dapoli flitted in front of our eyes as poets shared their beautiful verses.

Laura Traister, the Fulbright-Nehru scholar opened the evening with five poems. Jaipur mornings, a Cheruke legend, a music filled day at the beach were lyrical, strong, lulling. Her poem Free Period spoke of her ongoing affair with India, where she is living and teaching for nine months. Questions, she observed, provide answers, but also hurt innocence.

Gayatri Majumdar, editor The Brown Critique, read four poems. My Aunt’s Home, set in Versova was intimate, familial. Tribute to a Revolution was strong, reminiscent of a metaphor used elsewhere – heart as cold as fridge, humming, hollow. Gayatri asks, how did the sisters gather strength, tools? Her next poem – one of our favourite ones about poems – A Poem urges us all to stop suffering at the hands of failed foreign policy or stinking life, to not be a destitute butterfly who doesn’t have a memory of love, but to let a poem in!

Read on . . . A magical evening of poetry

Laura Traister,  Mihir Chitre and Gayatri Majumdar
Anjali Purohit, founder of Cappuccino Reading
Poets Kala Ramesh  Meherin Roshanara  Tripurari Kumar Sharma and Devashish Makhija

Hope Street Poets – KGAF 2017 A long evening of poetry readings by Priya Sarukkai Chabria, Michael Crieghton, Prafull Shiledar, Subhro Bandopadhyay, Sumana Roy, Sampurna Chattarji, Nia Davies, Kamal Vora, Ranjit Hoskote, Jennifer Robertson, Rohinton Daruwala, Hemant Divate, Prabodh Parikh, Mustansir Dalvi, Anjali Purohit, Anand Thakore, Kala Ramesh and Dion D’Souza. Session moderators: Sampurna Chattarji, Jennifer Robertson & Dion D’Souza.

The evening had 18 poets perform in three sets and four languages — English, Marathi, Gujarati and Bengali — during the Hope Street Poets reading at the David Sassoon Library gardens in Mumbai. The event was organised as part of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, and it gets its name, incidentally, from the erstwhile name of the street on which the library is located.

Meanwhile earlier in the day on 8 February, with Emma Bird and other Hope Street Poets

contributors

Will Daunt lives in Ormskirk. His first two chapbooks were published by C.P.R. on the Isle of Lewis at the turn of the Millennium. Since then, he has published six poetry collections, including Running Out Of England (Oversteps), The Good Is AbroadDistant Close and Landed (all Lapwing). Powerless, published by Indigo Dreams, was a winner in their 2009 Collections Competition. Will has previously reviewed for Envoi and New Hope International. Anu Majumdar’s books include Refugees from Paradise and God Enchanter (fiction); Island of Infinity and Infinity Papers (YA) and Mobile Hour and Light Matter (poetry). Her poems have also been part of choreography and art projects, published in the Prairie Schooner’s Feast anthology, while short stories have appeared in The Eye, Verve India, Nth Position, Open Road Review, Bombay Review, Scroll, Puffin and Scholastic anthologies. She also contributes to a poetry column for Arts Illustrated. She lives and works in Auroville. Sankari Prasad Sarkar was born in India on January 15, 1942. He holds degree in Science and Metallurgical Eng. He has got two anthologies published to his creditFor You: Outskirts Press USA, Aug 2013 and Songs of Man and Millennium Vol I:  Authorspress, India, Dec 2014. He has contributed poems in journals Setu, Verbal Art, Galaxy International, Muse India and best-poems.net He may be reached at http://spsarkar.wix.com/sankari  Arathi Menon is the author of Leaving Home With Half A Fridge, published by Pan Macmillan. She is a worker, traveller, humanist, book-chomper, cat-dog-dragonfly-singlemalt-lover and tweets about none of them at https://twitter.com/unopenedbottle Poet by force, looks odd and unheard of. That’s what would describe Nakul Parashar aptly here in this array of poets much more accomplished. An higher education educationist, a popular science writer, a publishing services veteran, Nakul earned his doctorate from the prestigious Delhi College of Engineering. He has written more than 200 articles, delivered more than three dozen radio talks, and has gotten more than ten research articles published in international journals. Nakul has authored more than ten books on various topics of publishing and popular science, a couple of them were awarded at the national level. Nakul lives in Delhi and continues to sporadically!! Varda Gennossar has published 7 poetry books, and was awarded the Prime Minister prize for the year 2002. She is a poetry editor as well, and a member of the board of the Israeli union writers. As well. She has been the General Secretary of P.E.N club for almost 10 years. Varda initiated the foundation of the Artists’s Residence in Herzliya,where she directed, for 20 years. Now she is a freelance curator and literature events’ director. Sikha Sinha was born in Calcutta where she spent her early childhood.  Now she lives with her husband in New York.  She has MA degree in Mathematics from St. John’s University in New York.  Her short stories and poem appeared in various publications. The River in Between is her debut novel.  The first draft of her second novel is completed. Chandramohan. S is an English poet based in India. His poems reflect the socio-political struggles of the marginalized , the working class and the nomadic  outcasts  of the World who are victimized and then forgotten as nations clash and wage relentless wars. His work has been profiled in New Asia WritingMascara Literary Review and About place journalCounter-Punch poetry, Thump Print magazine, The Sentinel, American Diversity Report, Poetry 24 online , Green Left Weekly (Australia), The Baroda Pamphlet, Art in Society, News Verse News , Chronogram etc. Bishnupada Ray is an Associate Professor of English at the University of North Bengal. His poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies. He won a Pushcart Prize nomination in 2009. His latest book of poetry Fox Land and Selected Poems was published in 2016 by the Brown Critique. Megha Saha hails from Kolkata and is 19 years old. She is currently a first-year student at Gujarat National Law University. Her poems have been published in magazines such as eFiction India, Textploit and SaintbrushK.S. Subramanian has published two volumes of poetry titled Ragpickers and Treading on Gnarled Sand through the Writers Workshop, Kolkata, India.   His poems have appeared in Asian Age, a daily published from New Delhi and other centres. Also in magazines, anthologies and web sites such as thebrowncritiqueblogspot.comwww.yorickmagazine.compoetrymagazine.com, poetrypacific, Kingston writers creative Blog, museindia.com, vigilpub. Indianruminations.com, Café dissensus, unesco.it among others.  He is a retired Senior Asst. Editor from The Hindu, one of the leading and well-known dailies in India.

Rene Wadlow is the President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation on and problem-solving in economic and social issues.

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