Under the Tropic of Cancer 3 poems
our most daring so far
|A Guitar Within A Peacock’s Eye – illustration by Benrali|
under the tropic of cancer
or a defeat
since we have spoken
beyond the customary
small talk and weather update
audible all too well
over the telephone line
and short phrases
The hate I wore on my shoulders
replaced by the damp, decaying
stench of indifferenceMaybe this is how
some family ties break down,
without much noise
or dramatic anguish
in old, tattered clothes
patched at places
a cotton thought
a silk musing
a woolen assurance
a nylon facade for strangersI wear it to a ball
I wear it for my blues
I wear it to a soiree
or to a solitary seat at the creek
I seldom adjust it
or smooth its creases,
I let it feel the breeze
that flows past me
I catch a thought
as it almost floats away
and slip it in my pocket
Coins of a foreign land
of no use to me
still jingle in my pockets
No scarf or a hat
weathering the days
weathering the nights.
weddings, parties and ceremonies
It is also worn at a
gold brocade and silk
pleated and pinned
grime and grit.
In 597 AD, the first
Benedictine monasteries were constructed in England. They were centres of learning where
travellers could stay indefinitely. My
guidebook mentioned one in Leicestershire.
Through yellow-leafed woods, that rose from an orange-brown, autumnal
floor, I saw the keep of Ulverscroft Priory above the treetops. A track took me to within eyesight of what
remained of the priory. The timber fence
surrounding the priory was covered by signs warning “trespassers” of
prosecution – and that “you can be seen from the house!”
stables beside the house. The lady was
wearing a tartan jumper, a pair of cream riding slacks, and an equestrian
helmet. Her natural frown magnified when
I approached and said: “Hello.”
woman’s nose resembled a gargoyle. She
looked like a gargoyle that had come to life.
beneath him full of sodden, dead leaves.
know. My guide—-”
was hooked was like an eagle’s. A
coiled-up hose on the ground near the pitchfork resembled a resting snake.
“Walk across that field. Turn
left at that tree. Go through
that….blah, blah, blah…”
The horse’s snout obscured a lemon tree.
attempting to retrace my previous route.
“YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!”
creatures, were fleeing, their hind legs spinning without traction in the muddy
ground in their bids to escape these charging thoroughbreds who were flying in
stopping at the barbed-wire to greet their master, who, perched upon his steed,
yelled: “IT’S THAT WAY!!”
The irritation that poured from her hard-pebble eyes was mixed with
amazement at my inability to follow simple instructions.
ruin whose main body was turning into rumble, time having hit the building with
its air attacks of deterioration, the slow, incredulous moving of the man’s
head increasing as I got further and further tangled in the wire.
insolence. I broke free and began
walking across the field that they were riding in. They rode towards me to go back to the
house. The woman’s gargoyle rose up
imperiously as she rode by me. Her eyes
were averted from me as her thoroughbred’s hooves ploughed through mud,
crunching rotting leaves and breaking up cow dung.
decided not to have you arrested.”
disgust. Dying roses beside the house
were visible under her raised arm.
priory’s keep, the only part of a once hospitable place that time had yet to
on The Malabar
little imagination, some visualisation is all I ask.
double-scalloped dining-hall, deep and large;
broad brows over big round eyes.
crystal-studded black velvet canopy –
fast to the high ceiling by a single opal orb.
myriad mystic mysteries, mired in quirky gloamings,
a thick tapestry far down the long west wall.
grove of palms, gargantuan and green,
in silken cross-stitch,
along the cliffs opposite.
small castle, on the edges of approaching darkness,
the low outcrop of the raised right eyebrow.
shoulder of boulders,
lovers’ nest abandoned since sunset,
the divide ‘tween the scallops.
giant, white and red jerseyed sailor, faintly visible,
guard at the tip end of the left eyebrow.
lone golden beam from the sailor’s head-lamp
time endlessly in slow, circular minutes.
flaxen, fleecey linen carpets about half the floor.
quicksilver pools of dark jade cover the rest.
a thatch roof at the inner tip of the left eye,
a table set for two.
solitary couple dines
plateful of pristine white rice,
whole fish still intact in its platinum scales,
a tingly, tangy blood-red sauce,
the fisherman’s wife knows the recipe of;
Ale, from the sweetest deepest spring.
bevy of ebony limbed, muslin swathed,
houries is not really there.
tinkling you hear,
the Jal Tarang in the sea’s soul;
she sweeps into the shore’s embrace all night.
1989. Kovalam Beach.
and I. On pain of Being There or Else.
S&G, for the foot-long invitation.
Half the city still slept.
red-earth tiles – like a slow, winter thaw.
The Shed’s open front – overlooking a
playing field and a presently deserted school building beyond – let a fine
spray blow in. Through this mist and rain, the patchy powder-blue and
light-grey sky, the lush-green grass and the bright-yellow buildings looked
like a soft-focus photo in brilliant colour.
peeling, filled the place more with their size than number. Wet and damp in
parts, they were nowhere dry. Remnants of someone’s lunch yesterday, dust,
tobacco ash, butts and match-sticks formed a collage which dragged onto the
floor. Walls reflected the sky’s hue and texture. Only strewn scraps of
note-book paper belied the place’s attachment to an academic building.
Cool air and soft light gave an elated
sense of freedom. Yet, the Shed’s atmosphere was testimony that walls do not a
prison make. From this open gaol there was no escape. For this itself was an
escape – from dry lecture-rooms and the drier lectures within.
Two Seniors; a semester’s college life-left
in them; sat there getting wetter by the minute. They had a very symbiotic
relationship. One had cigarettes and pen; another, matches and the day’s
newspaper with some sections yet unmolested. And their grey matter was of much
the same kind – able to work on almost everything save studies and other
Cupping cigarettes to avoid getting
them wet, they read the comics and solved the word-jumble. Sports pages were
read and the scores and players cussed and discussed. The crossword was
attacked; each clue’s solution hotly argued. New cigarettes lit, the long-drawn
and discursive arguments sometimes became silly. The crossword, thus, took
time. And the front-page never mattered.
All the while, inside the out-of-focus
buildings, unreceptive hordes listened to droning lectures on various
incomprehensibles – Cobweb Graphs, Deemed Incomes, Discounted Cash Flows, Going
Concern Concepts, Historical Cost Conventions, ISLM Curves, Spliced Indices . . .
Traffic to and from the buildings,
intermittent earlier, increased as time progressed – taking more people up to
join the hordes and bringing some escapees. Some just passed by, others shouted
sundry greetings the couple’s way – who now and then responded. Some came up –
to assist the crossword, further the arguments, cadge a drag or borrow a
cigarette. These last were most usually refused or told to perform sundry
possible and impossible acts – none of which were attempted.
News, gossip and other desultory talk
flourished and sputtered. This steady pair had broken off. That fat chap caught
smoking gave such a smart retort. This bum had wedged himself a place on the
team to Delhi. Let’s throw that guy out of the Union – he’s an irritating
interferer. And the manoeuvering needed with the faculty for that committee
post. The Long-Haired Girl was looking way-out yesterday. And so on . . .
Suddenly, it all ceased together. The
school-bell’s tolling mingled with the college-bell’s electric shrieking. The
gathering around the couple broke-up to join the now heavily one-way traffic –
out the gates near the Shed – toward better Delights.
my feet were not on the ground.
scared of my swings.
dashed them off the ground.
learn,that old wounds
swings at least.
dangling in the air.
business, I know;
answer; bad excuse.
love them at the same time).
|face 2 – sketch by Rajendra Nagdev|
of misty philosophies and myths.
of innocent heart and mind
rituals of the dead times
failing to unravel rituals
by obscure past.
barks furiously sometimes desperately
ancient moss laden walls,
flows from heavenly peaks above logic, argument and
whatever one may
that can demystify.
for a moment and drown,
flows eternally thro’ house.
footprints on lunar and martian dust
age of reason and facts and sciences and
I am still a prisoner
|abhi – sketch by Rajendra Nagdev|
and extra feet
the entry point of ‘Hotel Green’
the valley side
deep down to dizzy depth
in easy chair
waiting full moon to show
the black night sky
with twinkling stars and planets,
miles ahead of
chasing anxieties and tensions and worries
the torturous plans of a planned straight existence.
peaks look down
a tiny miserable entity in the balcony
notepad and scribbling pen in hand.
lumps of snow
fiercely to the craggy slopes.
my hanging balcony
frail watery lass
boulder to boulder
all dance grammar
and slipping through them
on rocks enchanting music,
lazy moments capturing stars fallen from night sky
adorn her body.
immobile chunk of rock; almost
wake up gently, as if from slumber
blue, green, colourless.
within houses like toys
disappearing and reappearing,
look at that,
on that mound not so near
red gleaming paper star
lazily in gentle breeze hanging from eaves.
that humble bamboo restaurant
bade farewell in
our Thirty Eighth year of wedding
deep in heart and mind
zigzag path running down like serpent
and losting in trees and hills and huts
re-showing shadows of vehicles move in slow
beams brushing boulders
tree trunks and walkers.
sinking in the valley of silence
She couldn’t have dreamt it herself.
A thought so well thought,
It left her thinking hard.
A chart, a diagram, a roadmap, a graph.
She attempted to organize it so,
Her stream of thoughts didn’t haywire go.
unraveled the story then,
She desired to master the consequences even.
She wanted to chalk out her own route,
Her destiny, her tryst, her plight, her moods
cold memories, some bitter shocks,
A path uncertain, and sweet talks.
The end is all that mattered but like it or not,
She carries around her neck all the time, a giant ALBATROSS!!
One touch breaks the spell.
True love is a spiral staircase,
You climb and keep climbing.
Two hearts beat in syncretised time;
Two centimetres closer by the second.
Emotions run their rampage
In the world of thoughts.
Oh the futility of resistance.
Three days and three nights of restlessness.
Faces fade in the crowd
of half knowing know-it-alls.
Four walls of a dark room.
The sweet coldness of sweat
That trickles down the spine.
Her eyes are a void of darkness and secrets.
Five delayed flights, you aren’t going home.
The electric love courses through my veins
And is already gone before I can hold onto it…
Different melodies and songs, cannot exist in absolute harmony;
It is not the balancing of the differences that matter,
Its rather the inability to appreciate these differences.
You said as much through a world of fiction.
And all resistance becomes futile;
One world ends, another begins from its demise
Like a cannibalistic Phoenix, whose words are
Weapons poisoned with philosophical idioms.
So long, Chinua Achebe . . .
I can’t be folded now.
There is now a painting in life-resembling you
And shall sail me through
The wildest storms.
Obscure and replusive
Home to a billion- mirage seekers,
behind the fringes of misery:
waiting for their turn
chase and collapse
you is worth praising.
around our innocent eyes.
conspire against us
fall prey to them.
become frail in health
arms warms them.
intriguing plot against our survival.
time as a new hope.
unveils a tragedy for us.
pillars of factories.
of the small alley which ran across the blighted area, selling cigarettes and small
stuffs. Her income was meagre. Some extra money would pour in once in a blue
moon, and there would occasionally be provision for tea as well. Jani had
always seen that routine, her mother never tiring and setting up her little
shop every morning with new hope. She had never seen a life beyond those dusty
streets and dingy huts. Her mother would narrate stories about the city to her,
about the big tall buildings, the buses and cars, the busy streets and the
orange street-lights, the fancy restaurants and flashy shops, and she would
dream about being there someday. The house she was living in was a one room accommodation
with a leaky roof and brick walls, matted with ages of black soot. There was a
small bed in the corner with a soiled bed-sheet covering it. There was no money
to buy another and so they slept on it ever. A rainy day would be tough and
they would spend hours putting buckets under the leaks, empting and re-filling
all the while and praying for the downpour to stop. Dinner would usually be a
plate of white rice at most, and on more fortunate days, they would have lentils
and some vegetables. Life was difficult for them, but they were content. Jani’s
mother had stitched a cloth doll for her sixth birthday. The little girl adored
it and would show it off to her friends, comb its hair, offer it false food and
sleep with it by her side at night. She never parted with her doll. She would
enjoy the attention of her friends and would spend hours boasting about her
had settled in, the rain bringing with it a lot of distress that year. The gutter
nearby was overflowing with stinking murky water. The area was flooded and
dirty, diseases spreading and people dropping like flies. There were frequent
visits from NGOs and relief centres. But the scene was going from bad towards worse.
Medicines didn’t suffice and food was scanty. Jani’s mother too, was down with high
fever, some kind of deadly flu, the doctors said. She had become pale and thin.
The free medicines had failed to work and the poor girl didn’t know what to do.
A night after the relief camp had withdrawn her mother’s condition worsened.
She kept throwing up the whole night, her feet cold and body shivering. Jani
was scared to sleep with her. So, she slept on the floor with the doll by her
side and lulled herself to sleep. Her mother died that night; Jani was left all
The coming days were tough for Jani to cope up. Initially, the neighbours would
pity her and offer food from their small share. But as the days passed, the
warmth in their voice lessened. The shortage of and greed for a full time meal
and all the bitterness of their miseries had hardened their hearts. The rain
had got heavy and the roof leakier than before, and finally one ill-starred
night, it crashed. Poor Jani had no shelter now. Though she had survived the
accident, she knew that there was more discomfort coming her way. She hugged
her doll tightly to her bosom and cried the whole night, fighting the rain and cursing
her fate, wishing she were dead, and at the crack of the dawn, she made up her
mind to leave the slum forever, oblivious of the future.
So, she bundled her belongings up in the soiled bed-sheet. There wasn’t much to
carry. Just few old clothes, a stale piece of cooked meat, which one of her
neighbours had once offered, a packet of white chalk which her mother had given
long back, and her favourite, the cloth doll. As she walked past the small
alley, Jani remembered the good old days with her mother and her friends. She approached
the turning where her mother used to set her canopy up. The rain had swept away
the temporary set-up, leaving only a pool of mud instead. The oilcloth that her
mother had once used to save the puny shop from rains was half buried in mud,
and a stray dog sat there, happily munching on a bone. She envied the dog with
all heart. She tried to chase it away, suddenly feeling immensely possessive
about the thing that once belonged to her mother. But the animal was reluctant.
It gave a huge carefree yawn and reverted back to its chewing. She tried a few
more times, but failed. Jani was frustrated, her heart heavy with the failure
to retrieve her mother’s oilcloth. Just as she was about to give up and leave,
the dog came to her wagging its tail. It had smelled the meat in her bundle. But,
Jani didn’t have the slightest idea about canine behaviour and gave a feeble
attempt to shoo it away, confused and scared. But there was a sudden sharp bark
in reply, giving her a strong panic attack. The dog plunged upon her bundle in
an attempt to discover what it had smelled. Jani freaked out and after a brief
struggle managed to tear the bundle out of its mouth. A terrified Jani then ran
for her life, clasping her bundle tightly and not daring to look back.
and shaken by the unexpected aggression, she arrived at the city at mid noon.
It was exactly how her mother had described it to be- busy and flashy ever. She
found her place underneath a peepal tree growing near the road-side. There was
a woman selling fruits at a distance. She had tied her one-year old baby boy by
his right foot to the lamp-post nearby, restraining him from wandering into the
streets, and was busy attending to the customers. Her voice was hoarse and she
sweated even in the shade all day long. The fruits in her basket reminded Jani
of her empty stomach. She opened up her package hoping to find the piece of
meat. But there was no meat. There was a large tear in the bed sheet. So, the
dog had succeeded in its attempt after all! She searched for her other
belongings. She had her frocks and the packet of chalk intact. But, her treasure,
the doll was gone! That night, she slept underneath the tree with the bundle as
her pillow, crying in hunger and despair, chewing the chalk pieces she had and
longing for her cloth doll by her side and had a dream about her mother
narrating stories about the big city.
A tickle in the ear woke Jani up early morning. It was the dog from the slum licking
her face. It had followed her to the city and was now sitting beside her,
wagging its tail, its tongue out. The previous day’s tiff was still fresh in
her mind and this time Jani was more angry than frightened. The beast had stolen
her food and taken her dear doll. With much spite, she grabbed a stone lying
nearby and threw it at its head. The dog let out a weak whimper and skipped a
few steps back. Satisfied, Jani went back to sleep. A few moments later she
felt the tickle again. Annoyed and disgusted, she got up to hit the dog again
and stopped suddenly. It was her doll; the dog was holding it in its mouth. It
came towards her, this time with more caution, and settled near her, putting the
toy at her feet. Jani was viewing the whole drama silently and could not
believe her eyes. She had found her doll again. And she had found a new friend
as well. She patted the dog’s head and said, “Thank you. Will you stay here with
me? I’ll call you Kala”. The dog rested its head on her lap. Kala had reciprocated
The next day started bright for Jani. An apple had accidently rolled down from the woman’s
basket into the streets. She had found it while taking a stroll nearby and taken
it to her place. Kala had found a bone to chew upon. A light breeze was blowing
and they were dozing off under the cool shade of the tree. Kala would raise his
ears once in a while, paying attention to the slightest of sounds. But, Jani
was soon in a deep slumber, dreaming about her life in the slum. She saw
herself in her mother’s sari, the cloth doll in her arms and Kala following
her, barking at a neighbour of hers. Then she saw her home. Someone was cooking
inside the kitchen, might be her mother. Just as she was about to call her from
behind, she felt a tight slap on her face and woke up with a start. The fruit
seller lady was standing there, anger showing all over her dark face. Jani
noticed her black unclean teeth and fuzzy hair and shuddered. “You took the
apple from the streets, didn’t you?”, the lady enquired, dominance distinct in
her tone. She gave a nod and there was a slap again. “Now pay for it”, screamed
the lady. “But I don’t have any money”, Jani answered, a little frightened. The
lady was furious now. “I don’t sit here all day to do charity! If you don’t
have money then give me something else. Show me what you have got in that dirty
pack of yours”, she pointed towards her bundle. Jani quietly opened it. Kala
was watching her with much observance. The lady ransacked the bundle,
scrutinizing the things in it, until her eyes fell on the cloth doll. She took
it in her hands and muttered to herself, “My son is going to love this”. She
turned towards Jani and bluntly said, “I’ll take this.” The poor girl was
already in tears. That was her mother’s last gift. She could never part with
it, never. She snatched it back from the lady and snapped, “Anything, but
this.” Jani’s words were like a huge blow on the fruit seller’s superbity.
Enraged, she put her hands forward in an attempt to grab the doll from her. But
Kala was already alert. He pounced upon the lady, almost pinning her to the
ground. The lady was in a state of shock. Kala’s sharp barks left her no choice
but to leave the place. After she was gone, Jani hugged Kala and thanked him,
and promised never to leave him.
That evening, Kala was run down by a car. Jani was outside a baker’s shop, picking
up a half eaten cake from the dustbin nearby when she heard the brakes screech.
Kala was dead by the time she reached. His intestines were out and bathed in
blood. The car driver geared off not bothering to look at what had come under
the wheels. Passersby did a tch-tch and a tchu-tchu and went away. The fruit
seller lady gave a sinister smile and was back to her business, shouting in her
hoarse voice even more enthusiastically. Suddenly, the city no longer seemed
like what her mother had described. Jani cried by his side till midnight,
indifferent to the dust and the traffic in the streets. She had lost a friend.
in the morning, when the road was empty and the dust had died down, Jani slowly
went to the peepal tree and brought back her soiled bed-sheet. She picked up the
bits and parts of Kala’s cold body and carefully wrapped it up in the cloth.
She took him back to the tree and started digging the ground with her bare
hands. But the ground was coarse and Jani was just a child with not enough
strength. Even after a couple of hours of desperate struggle she could still
not dig enough earth to lay Kala’s rotting body. The sun beams were slowly dawning
through the darkness. The street lights were dimming down and cars and buses
were beginning to run again. Jani saw that the fruit seller was back with her
baby. Keeping the previous day’s tiff and all her fear aside, she went to her
and asked, “Can you help me out? I need to dig the ground to bury my pet dog.”
The lady looked at her as if she were a criminal. “Go to hell! Both you and
your flea bag!”, she thundered. Jani thought for a moment and said again,
“Please, I know you didn’t like him. But he is dead now.” After few seconds of
silence the lady said, “Fine. I have a knife. But you’ll get it only when you
give me the doll. And yes, give me the knife as soon as possible. I have a lot
of work to do. I don’t sit here all day to solve other’s problems.” Jani nodded
a yes silently.
So her mother’s last gift was soon gone. A grave was dug out neatly for Kala and he
was rested in it. Jani was heart-broken and silent. She wept by his grave and
slept by his side that night. And she dreamt of being in her home again. She
saw her mother in the kitchen, cooking for her. She smiled at her and said,
“Where were you Jani? I’ve waited so long. Don’t ever leave me like this again.
I missed you….”
As the sky fell back upon the earth
When everybody dreams, embalmed in the kohl of
in solitude, I stand by the window, soaking
Gazing the grace of the stillness of the distant
I listen to the
harmony of the Spirit Divine.
And I feel through my skin, through the light
falling on me
the rhythm that keeps the universe in synergy;
the beat upon which the human heart beats;
the rhyme that spins the milky galaxy.
And I see though my eyes through the epiphany;
the manifestations of this omniscient energy;
making us rise and fall through life’s mysteries;
making us live the lines of its Poetry.
No Homes . . . 4 poems
Pooja Garg Singh
of pre-dominant spherical
circle carving, slicing, touching
He forgets tickets, carries oranges, collects pips
She waits to reach home –
Night is a house of cards, they play king and queen
Their sense of humor (they) left with the joker
Hard to get becomes harder –
Sheets they do not wash fill
In a loneliness they do not feel
Rain is what they drink, tears are tiresome
People are those that walk on streets, talking
Food needs eating and teeth, they bite
Silences and words are comic strips, morning brings its own garbage
Promising rebirth, they kill each other every night
Time is a policeman on duty
Walls absorb sweat, silence, noise and night
Boredom is a window that ends in a closed backyard
moving on, nay, you keep on moving
distilled beer and fags are a welcome.
before, as you knew it.
ground by now.
awaiting your return.
roadside, glistening asbestos in the sun, reflecting your teary-eyed farewell
seven years ago, forever on the lookout for that little girl who trudged the
very path, clutching her parent’s arms with tiny fingers, willing them to stop.
her insides that pristine moment.
blue, the yellow
Suddenly this rain.
catching you in one unguarded moment, all vulnerable.
shiver of skin, untouched, as it’s caressed by the water, cold.
silence broken by the soft dripping in the end of the street.
shadows glisten below yellow street lamps. Neon.
talk of love
happiness that flutterred around my
finger-veins-like-leaves against my own
*FOR MORE INFO PLEASE VISIT THE SITE AT: http://www.dreamworldsbeyondtime.com
That night, king moon came and spoke to me, “You will leave the top of your palm tree.”
So the moon blew me down to the sand. I saw jewels running to the sea. All was quiet that night on Shell Beach, all but the turtles running to sea. The moon says I have to protect one,
I have to help him return to sea. He’s from a world beyond our stars, a rainbow beyond the galaxy. My short time with him is my Ghazal, then he disappeared into the sea.
All the sea turtles rushed to the waves, all except for my new friend Manni. The first face Manni saw was the moon. The first song Manni heard was the sea.
Follow my light and enter the sea.” Manni was scared of the endless sea, “Hurry,” said the moon, “enter the sea.” The full moon’s light shined so bright that night,
Manni saw a new world undersea, Manni found he could move much faster. in the watery-world he swam freely. he swam over sea anemones,
the sea creatures tickled his belly. Manni found beautiful sea dragons. With crowns like feathers they came to see, to see the first rainbow born at night.
they came to greet their new friend Manni. Manni then asked the sea dragon king, “have you met or seen my family?” “No,” said the dragon, “didn’t see them.
maybe the fish met your family?” they swam with their parade of colors. the night fish had more colors than he. he asked if they saw other turtles, but they did not see his family. “please, stay and play with us for awhile, we play in the sea anemones.” “no”,said Manni, “I have to find them.” then manni swam off, searching the sea.
The Turtle’s Dream and Keys
PROSE AND DRAWINGS by Benrali
All winter Jupiter dreamed
with earth, stones and gnomes.
All winter Jupiter dreamed
within the roots and bulbs of
hyacinths, deep under the snow.
But spring has come, ice melts
and the winter must go.
Now its time for a box turtle
to break free, time for bulbs to
grow and time for Jupiter to see.
Now its time for him to feel the
Sun on his cold shell. And then a beak pokes through the garden and I see Jupiter is lucky!
The spring has set him free. A box turtle returns safely to the garden from his long winter dream.
On his shell are the colors from last fall. Like hyacinths, his shell has new blooms each year.
But this year I see a new pattern, I see a golden skeleton key.
I sometimes feel like Jupiter’s colors, out of place in this world. Jupiter’s colors are so bright
they remind me of the slipper orchids, colors that are hard to find in nature, colors that I imagine are a memory of ancient seas, colors that remind me of fish from coral reef.
Look at all the patterns in Jupiter’s garden; stars in moss, circles in sand, ivy wings, little hats on mushrooms and sun letters on the box turtle’s shells.
And what does an artist see when gazing at these patterns? I see a song that cannot be heard.
Imagine if the Eastern Box Turtles became extinct, what secret words would leave the planet?
I imagine all patterns in nature are keys, I imagine box turtle patterns are gold letters that fell from the sun.
Like two snowflakes, no two box turtles have the same words. I imagine the gold patterns are poems elves have read for millions of years.
When I Found a Moon of Chai
A Collection Of Verse and Illustrations
‘Ashrams in Starclouds’
|When A Peacock Soars Above Stars – painting by Benrali|
Lapis Lazuli, stone of the night sky,
inlaid around Tutankhamen’s eyes.
Bleecker Street bazaar had everything;
shadow puppets from Bali, booming
techno CDs from unknown djs,
Salsa music, banana shakes,
bonsai trees and in one booth,
I found a ring that held night.
I found a man, parched skin,
selling silver rings from Tibet.
He sold stars from earth;
tigers-eye, turquoise, amber,
amethyst, lapis lazuli, agates
nested in pagodas, temples,
angels, and mouths of dragons.
I tried one on, a magic ring,
a ring forged in Tibet with
hammer and song.
In the center was the night with
clouds of gold from a lions mane.
Lapis Lazuli from Afghanistan;
blue blood that hardened deep
in the Himalayan range into blue
stones who called out to be found,
to be polished, to sit in silver thrones,
who will rest on foreign fingers,
staring up at sky kingdoms
they will one day be kings of.
‘Continent in the Attic’
|When The Peacock Remembers – illustration by Benrali|
Celia, can you remember her?
Can the dead remember color
of night, tastes of root beer and Celia?
Its winter, I have the indigo
night, your avocado sandwich
darkens with Celia in the mind.
The seed still grows with Tulsi
on the window sill. An alarm
clock flashes twelve, twelve, twelve.
Can you remember Celia? That
spider we watched after sex
watching us from the ceiling.
She’s long dead now, her body
collapsing into itself, in that corner
she now hides from the world
in her architecture of broken legs.
proliferation of anthologies. It must be. It has already established itself as
a genre to reckon with. It threw up many surprises in terms of multiplicity of
voices, gambits, anthologies, rare philosophical moments and strange realities.
It has also wandered through wilderness because there is no simultaneous growth
of substantial critical theory to support this genre. Indian poets indulging in
prose writing to support, extend or elaborate their poetry is a very rare
phenomenon, except their lively and informative interviews. However this lack
of critical theory, school and movements allowed Indian English poetry a
rhizomatic growth with each bulb standing unique in the string or the web of
poetry. Prominent poets jut out of the ground like anthills but one can sadly
note their urban-cosmopolitan-academic inclination to run into the shadow of
western canon. My example of a true Indian English poet who comes close to the
Indian Idiom if it exits at all is Arun Kolatkar. And my view of any review of
Indian English poetry is not to disregard those minor poets who exude the
confidence of the soil but who are discredited for their stylistic ineptitudes and
Among Natives, edited by Charu Sheel Singh and Binod Mishra is a good
example to begin with. Hats off to Professor Charu Sheel Singh who always
provides us with a correct perspective on Indian English poetry! I have read
his foreword to the Binod Mishra edited book Rainbow Redemption: New Bearings in Indian English Poetry and now I
have the privilege of reading his foreword to the anthology under review. He
has shown the responsibility of a perceptive critic in critiquing the
well-promoted anthologies of the past especially those that give the impression
that the same batch of people writes Indian English poetry in India. One can
add that the sameness is not only in names but also in the creative output of a
cosmopolitan branded well-networked shopping mall where the home-grown cottage
products are displayed as exotic desi variety.
Mishra has done a good job in selecting poets with this home-grown potential
and possibilities. Of course it is a big anthology minus the high profile or
the hyped air and it takes some leisure hours to read them all but it is not a
daunting prospect. One can see Bibhu Padhi is still going strong as we swim
with his Duryodhona “to arrive at what now is part/of our exceptional
dreams”(‘A Song for Duryodhona’). And a wonderful poem coming from Pashupati
T.R.Joy giving us the idea of ‘A Poetree in the Campus’ with “They were poems
we hung/And the Tree was damn thrilled”. Or Vihang A Naik as usual giving us
one of his unique computer poems. These are some of the examples I can collect
for my review. The best advice for the reader is always the same: Read the
poems yourself. Poetry is the stuff that requires the same protestant practice
of reading the Bible (the poem) directly bypassing the institution of the
clergy (the critic).
course there are creative pretensions and unthinking populism in the anthology,
like in any other anthology, or how can an anthology be complete without them?
It is not the task of the reviewer to muckraking. Poetry is a matter of feeling
and the feeling is sacred like any personal taste or flavour. I also exhibit my
personal taste in reading poetry as a matter of preference. That does not make
me more sacred or holier-than-thou. Everyone has a place, only time will tell
who is genuine or who is a fake.
edited by Charu Sheel Singh and Binod Mishra, Adhyayan Press, New Delhi, 2013.
Fox Chase Review
Words Not Spoken by Vinita Agrawal
Agarwal has been publishing poetry in India and abroad for over twenty years.
In 1999, she has been a writer-in-residence at the universities of Stirling
(Scotland) and Kent, U.K. Her collection of poems, Wish-granting Words, Ravi Dayal Publisher, New Delhi, 2002,
received favourable reviews in India as well as the UK. Her poems have been
included in anthologies such as, Literature
Alive, New Writing from India and Britain, Vol. 2, Summer 1996; Nine Indian Women Poets, Oxford
University Press, 1997; Verse: Special
Feature on Indian poetry, UK & USA, Vol. 17 & 18, 2001; Reasons for Belonging, Penguin, 2002; Midnight’s
Grandchildren: Post Independence Poetry from India, Struga Poetry Press,
Macedonia, 2003; Confronting Love,
Penguin, 2005; Fulcrum: Special Issue on
Indian Poetry in English, USA:
No. 4, 2005; Sparks, DAV Centre for
Creative Education, New Panvel, Mumbai, 2008; Indian English Women Poets, New
Delhi, Creative Books, 2009, We Speak in
Changing Languages: Indian Women
Poets, 1990-2007. New Delhi, Sahitya Akademi, 2009 and The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry, 2012.
critical articles on Indian Poetry in English have been published in magazines
and journals like Poetry Review,
(London) and the Journal of Commonwealth
Literature (UK). Smita Agarwal worked for her Ph. D. on Sylvia Plath and is
currently an editor and translator for Plath
Profiles the Sylvia Plath online journal, Indiana University, USA.
job is that of a Professor of English at the University of Allahabad, India.
Her hobby is Indian music and her songs are available on www.beatofindia.com and
a medico from Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, is a young poet and has been writing
poetry for six years. His poetry has been published in many online magazines
like Muse India, Kritya, Four Quarterly
Magazine, Copy Left Web, New Mirage Journal, Istanbul Review, Brown Critique,
Pif Magazine, Ignitink etc. and print magazines like Kavya Bharati and Side Stream.
poetry is essentially lyrical and imagistic. His thematic range is wide with
love and loss at its centre. It is also a world of miracles and metamorphoses
where the lover turns into a tree on an island following the spring’s
footprint, a strange rain dries up the streets, a man reading a newspaper burns
while a woman freezes and the poet drowns, where cats are meditating Buddhists
but for their ever-moving tails, a mosquito kills a man sucking his
blood as he is too idle to kill it, life is a dead almond leaf, love is an
empty platform and a love letter sings from within the dustbin filling the
night with melody and the chair hums a raga while a blank paper plays bansuri,
a door plays harmonium and the clock is a lyricist. There is also pain here for
the disappearing sparrows, vanishing villages , exiled words and lost glances.
There is too the embarrassment, ‘what if I am a poem written by someone else?’
and there are larger political anxieties as in the poem about Manipur. Many of
the poems are marked by irony, sarcasm, surrealism and nostalgia. The idiom is
clearly informed by another language that makes it quaint and even structurally
unsound. For a beginner, Rohith has enough imaginative potential to grow into a
fine poet once he overcomes his initial shortcomings. I wish him greater
linguistic precision and a more evolved, mature and less overstated idiom
which I am confident he will soon find.
– K. Satchidanandan
in English literature, Nayanathara has been working as a content writer for the
past eight years. She has contributed poetry to various poetry anthologies and
several online literary journals including www.museindia.com, www.kritya.in, Contemporary Literary Review: India and The Enchanting Verses International Poetry
Journal. In 2011, she bagged the ‘Young Writer’s Award -2011′ instituted by
the reputed online literary journal Indian
Ruminations for her poetry collection titled The Scent of Frangipani. She has also written an e-book on Indian
Art and Mural Paintings for chillibreeze.com. One of her poems was selected in
the ‘Highly Commended’ category for the ‘Inspired by Tagore’ International
Writing Competition 2011-2012 organized by the British Council in association
with SAMPAD. E-mail: [email protected]
Associate Professor of English at the University of North Bengal, West Bengal, India.
A widely published poet, he won a Pushcart Prize nomination in 2009. His poetry
has appeared in Indian Literature, New Quest, Makata, A Hudson View Poetry
Digest, Shabdaguchha and Revival. His latest book of poetry Discarded
Self and Selected Poems was published by Hyphen Publications, Shimla, India
in 2012. He also writes poetry in Bengali. He can be contacted at [email protected].
Mirror, Mirror on the Mind
poet. Reshmy was born in Kerala. She has
spent her childhood and thereafter in Mumbai. She is married to a banker, is
herself a media executive and the two have a young son. She is fond of
capturing her myriad thoughts on life through poetry. She finds it exhilarating
and poetry writing to her is a means to explore her inner self.
Words Not Spoken
on the 18 August, 1965, in Bikaner, Vinita Agrawal is an Indian English poet,
writer and researcher. She has been published in national and
international print and online journals. She has been a part of a few
international reading events. Apart from writing poetry, she writes on
spirituality and culture. Married in her early twenties, she has been hopping
between cities whenever her husband’s job beckons. She has a college-going son
who is pursuing a career in music production in the US. Apart from reading and
writing, she likes gardening, interviewing young and old achievers, exploring
Buddhism and volunteering for Animal Welfare work. She currently resides in
Mumbai, India. She can be reached at [email protected]
A Turn of Poetry
part, in Gurgaon, India. He first turned to poetry as a senior school student;
then, and for many years thereafter, it was certain kinds of desperation that
kept his poetic urge going. He likes to believe that there is more than just
that in his poetry now, and has attempted to demonstrate that through this collection.
You can tell him what you think, though, via a tweet to @godavar.
Nair is a brand researcher by vocation but is really a poet at heart. He
genuinely believes that appreciation for as well as of poetry, would make the
world a better place.
been published before, so this is not his debut.
has appeared in few journals such as Tongues
of The Ocean, The Gloom Cupboard, The Brown Critique, Catapult To Mars, Mused
Bella Online Literary Review
other interests include chess, music, social networking. He could be accessed
at [email protected]
Ray is an Associate Professor of English at the University of North Bengal. An Indian English poet and his latest book of poetry Winter Sky and Selected Poems was published
by Brown Critique in 2013. Shubhangi Joshi is a 25-year-old guitarist, singer songwriter and marketing professional currently residing in Gurgaon. Her passion for poetry developed early in life, and she has been writing on a variety of topics ever since. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Manushi, thevoicesproject.org, down in the dirt magazine, and other journals. She is currently working on her debut book of poetry, set to launch in September 2014.
year of Ph D at the Department of Cultural Studies at the English and Foreign
Languages University, Hyderabad. Writing poetry is a purging experience for
her. She can be contacted at [email protected] Rajendra Nagdev is a poet, painter, and architect born in 1941 in Ujjain (MP). He lived in Delhi 1967 till
2010, retired from Central Govt. Service in 2001. Settled in Bhopal recently. He has been writing
for five decades in Hindi and English, mostly poetry. His poems, sketches, and articles have been published in reputed Hindi and English journals. Eight collections
of poetry and a travelogue have been
published in Hindi. Rajendra has been honored with
following National and State level awards – ‘Sahityik Kriti
Samman 2005-06’ of Hindi
Academy Delhi, ‘Rashtrakavi
Maithilisharan Gupt Puraskar- 2008’, ‘Spenin Sahitya
Gaurav Samman 2008-09’, ‘ Akhil Bhartiya
Ambikaprasad Divya Rajat Alankaran 2007’, and ‘Sahityik Kriti
Samman 2010’ of Academy
Of Indo-Asian Literature, Delhi. His poems have been
translated in Japanese, Bengali , Marathi and Urdu. Stuti Bansal is an enthusiast of expressions, and language, is a lawyer by profession and a poet and writer at heart. Based in New Delhi, India, she also runs a blog at www.expressedd.wordpress.com and can be reached at[email protected] Sandipon Choudhury holds a master’s degree in English
literature from Delhi University. He is currently working as a content writer
with a reputed KPO unit in Delhi. He likes to discover new things and knowledge. Travelling,
music, art, photography, cinema and literature define him. One guilty pleasure
of his would be video-games. He runs two blogs (updates happen when
opportunity permits) – http://hangingfromthejoshuatree.wordpress.com
. Leena Adhvaryu (b. 1975)was born, brought up, and presently put up in Mumbai, India. She loves the ethos of Mumbai and most things in the city. She is particularly impressed by Rilkey when he said:“ if your daily life seems poor, do not blame it;/blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches,/for the creator, there is no poverty”. She enjoys being a lawyer and earns my bread and butter for a living. Pitambar Naik holds an M A in Journalism and Public
Relations. He was born and brought in Odisha and now works as a social worker
in Jharkhand in India. He writes in English. He can be contacted at
[email protected] Chayanika Deka is from Assam. She is a postgraduate in Biotechnology and is presently staying in Calcutta. Rober Shakeshaft was born in August 1949. In 2004 he attended a creative writing
course run by
Skerries poet Enda Coyle Green. At this event he wrote his first poem –
February field. He first attended readings at open mic with Michael O.Flanagan
of riposte in the Glen of Aherlow, a pub on Emmet Road Inchicore. Robert read at
the Inchicore Village Festival at that time it was held in Kilmainham gaol. Robert
has also poems published in riposte. Later he
began reading in Dublin city with the 7 towers open mic in Cassidy’s of
Westmoreland st. in 2009 he submitted some of his poems for the 7 towers
anthology. Also he has work published in the curlew collection of poems by
Dublin writers in 2009. Followed on by the ardgillian writer’s anthology where
he is a member and a contributor. A further two poems published in seven towers
2012-11-04 anthology. Soon to be
followed by inclusion in the 2013 publication. Robert has
read at the glor sessions run by Stephen James Smyth on several occasions. Also he has read at the new bridge writers
open mic.nights. Robert has recorded his poems on KFM radio as well as
performing live on liffey sounds with the host Eamon Lynskey a Dublin poet. Robert
continues to write and read his poems at 7 towers new venue in the twisted pepper
in Abbey st. Some of his poems have been published by Riposte poetry broadsheet, edited by Michael O
Flanagan a Dublin poet. Pratibha Biswas is a resident of New Delhi, India and works as Assistant Professor of English in the University of Delhi. She holds a B.A degree from Delhi University and received M.A in English Literature from Annamalai University. Currently she is pursuing M.Phil. in English literature from Jamia Millia Islamia. Her scholarly interest lies in Women’s Writings and Contemporary Indian Poetry in English. She enjoys reading poetry by Kamala Das, Eunice de Souza, Mamta Kalia and Menka Shivdasani. Her poem ‘Predator’ has been published in Issue 6 of Open Road Review, an international literary journal. She may be contacted at [email protected] Ananya S. Guha lives in Shillong India and works in the Indira Gandhi National Open University. His poems have been published in magazines/ezines both in India and abroad. Some of these are: Glasgow Review, Osprey Journal, Poem 2 day, Asia Writes, Art Arena, Muse India, Concelebratory Shoe Horn Review, Other voices, and Gloom Cupboard among others. Pooja Garg Singh is a
Denver-based writer and poet. She writes on feminist issues and culture. Her
articles and poems have been published in magazines such as ‘The Feminist Wire’ ,‘The
Aerogram’’, ‘The Missing Slate’ and ‘The North East Review’. An
ex-business journalist having worked with publications such as India Today and
IDG, Pooja now runs a content company, WordTree (www.wordtree.in). Shristi Chawdhury is currently studying at Jadavpur University with Comparative Literature. She is an ardent reader and also an avid listener of everything Post-modern rock and folk.