June-July 2016

June-July 2016
i.  Aswin Vijayan                                                                                                   3 poems

This one poem is for you

Unlike the others,
you didn’t come to me as a picture of
perfection,
strength.
Photograph by Nitya Swaruba
Rather, you came packaged
in a bundle of weakness
and tears.
You did not enunciate every word
perfectly,
hated ‘kid’ and preferred ‘child’,
or have perfectly manicured fingers.
You didn’t find me in weakness.
Neither did you dazzle me with
difference,
perceived independence,
and a hidden layer that felt ripe to be
peeled off.
You didn’t find me in search of strength.
You came to me as you were,
found me as I am,
and you stayed.
Routine
(a tanka)
Just by the window
seated in the moving train
I wait a while for
my thoughts to run through
the streets
of all the sand castle
dreams
 
The Chronicles
of the Coffee Machine
They serve the best coffee
around here.
My day is just starting
at noon
but the coffee machine is
broken
and I wait
patiently
as the standstill queue
feeds on more impatient
victims.
Amidst the multilingual cacophony
the owner rings up a
somebody –
confessing to the crowd
“induction aduppu heat aavale”,
induction stove has gone kaput.
His customers are beginning
to flare up
aided by the winternoon sun.
As I notice the bottled
winter
nearly beheaded,
the machine whirrs into
action
at the anxious touch
of the little lady at the
counter.
Coffee is not hot enough for
some
and disappointment melts the
crowd;
I walk away,
sipping satisfaction.
ii.

Asha Vinod Iyer                                                                                                                            thought
Mani

It seems just like yesterday that this kid brought up on fairy
tales and happy endings crashed into real life big time. As US Republican party
Presidential nominee Donald Trump would put it, “Not good. Not good at all. So
so . . .Very Very BAAD . . .”.
            To be felled by
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is literally breathtaking. An
adult lungs laid flat out would cover a tennis court. Last year’s Christmas
gift of life was  24/7 Oxygen therapy
through a nose tube.
            Imagine a bull
wearing a nose ring. A dog tied to its chain, a fish going dizzy in its glass
bowl . . . a kitten chasing its tail . . .
            Pathetic, inane,
useless, unlovable, unthis and unthat . . . is the general feeling of negativity.
From princess one day to nothing. This huge burden on all those I love. No
holidays, no fun, no laugh, no satire no no no no . . . . Just black bleak all
around.
            I woke saying
let this day be the last and slept saying let me not wake. If wishes were horses . . . . But then I don’t know how to ride so moot. Winter is harsh and the icy grey
Vancouver drizzle made matters worse. One morning I opened the drawer in my
nightstand. That is the only one area of life no one else is allowed to pry
into.
            I moved things
around and got a rash the same afternoon. Itchy, I looked in the draw for my
balm. Instead I found a spider (now I knew the reason for the rash) and swiped
the daddy longlegs creepy away. Next day, it was back. I didn’t have the heart
to kill it so we played this game . . . . By day I would destroy its web and by night
it would rebuild. Then like about everything else in my life, I gave up.
            The drawer was a safe warm corner and now there was someone I
awaited to speak with every morning. Then more spiders came into my life, thanks
to Mani. Their children, other friends. Not all stayed. But some found various
corners in my house to live in. My husband would chase some away, but there are lots of room so they must have settled somewhere in this heart-filled home.
            Mani is an odd
entity. Some days all sleepy and crawly. On other days, especially when I can
see the red in the transparent belly (blood or remnants of a digested insect?), it is all high strung rushing around house cleaning the web.
            Since Mani and
lot have been given the run of my home, the ants, fruit flies, and many pests
that thrived on unwashed wine glasses, uneaten overripe fruit, vegetables not
discarded, have been banished. The house keeping is still sloppy, but all the
signs of depression, grudges, pain, and despair are gone.
            I should have
let more friends into my life earlier. Thank you friend for starting the
classmate chat group Namma Girls (Our Girls). The college alumni. Old work
colleagues. I am glad they all deigned to crawl back into my life. It took work
to find them, but if you look hard enough you can find cherished memories.

Its is now time
to say boo to Mani, and bye to you friend.

 
iii.

Sunil Sharma                                                                                                           2 poems

The Lost Ones!

An insect enters the

Sixth-floor home on a
Grayish evening of Mumbai
Scrubbed clean by the rains
Few minutes ago.
It circles the dark interiors
Of the room stuffed with
So many things and clothes
And finding no flowers or trees
Inside the little cavern full of stale air
Flies out of the barred window instantly
Into the sky waking up slowly to
The golden sodium-vapour lights
And continual torture of honking horns!
I wish I were an insect!
Thought the child coughing and waiting for
Steps that will bring cheers in a lonely life!
Sting!

The horn-blast
From a passing school bus in the suburban Mumbai morning
Stings like a wasp, shattering the ear-drums like brittle glass
Of a closed window;
A daily ritual that harshly wakes up
The middle-class neighbourhood;
The only grim fact remains the urban jungle
Has left no wasps, bees, butterflies, crickets or any other insects alive!
 

iv.


Sonali Raj                                                                                                     2 poems

Estuary

I will take you to a canyon;
The river licks its swelling ridges of rough undergrowth.
Through the warm marsh where two ranges meet,
to the heathen mountain.
 
I will await you by its moorings; bring you ashore
by the back of your waist. 
In my eyes as the sun lulls,
you can watch a thousand birds of paradise
erupt skyward, where the river and sea collide.
 
The Girl of the Hills
 
I’m in love with a girl of the hills
Because her hair is curly and wild
 
She’s in love with the salt-sea breeze
Though she crinkles her nose sometimes
 
I’m in love with a girl of the hills
In the city she walked alone
 
She said it straight and lisped along
Then she learnt to be a girl of the town
 
Everyone watched her and whispered
There goes the girl of the hills, except
 
She is a woman now and shapes
The ways in which the world turns
 
v.
 
Jay K. Mishra                                                                                                         4 poems
 
 
Madness
 
Don’t
you sometimes
want to lose
all your reasons, and
act in madness,
letting each grey thinking cell
act on its own,
free from unison
of logic and rationality?
Don’t
you ever
wish to drop dead, and
watch your rotting, lifeless body
and celebrate
your freedom
from social insanity?
I
close my eyes
in poetic trance,
oblivious of this world,
like a dead man,
my spirit more alive, and
I let my thoughts
run amok
bordering on madness.
  
Dichotomy of My Life

My
soul seeks enlightenment
my heart, creative perfection.
Former needs abstinence,
latter feeds on indulgence.
Between this dichotomy of life
some random, precious thoughts
ooze out, some poetic insights erupt,
some desires fly out
for fulfillment 

some are shattered.
My shadow comes to life,
holding my fingers,
it promises to lead me to my dreams.
My shadow doesn’t need to hide
from this world, unlike me.
I hide behind it.
 
Masterpiece

My
wounded heart,
bleeds colors.
Some say,
you can paint your memories
in these beautiful colors, and
make a masterpiece.
I let my heart bleed on.
The colors flow,
painting me from inside, all over
before they are lost and wasted
like my memories,
my life 

my masterpiece.
My only poetry for you
The
brightness of the morning Sun
and the
softness of dew,
how can I
describe you better
than this
spring, fresh and new.
I have
wandered for miles,
and I have
pondered for years,
and I have
tried to write you down
in words,
letters and tears.  
Yet, this
blank page, pale and bright,
soaked deep
in salt of my eyes,
is my only
poetry for you,
my only poetry for
you.
 
vi.
 
Deepali P.                                                                                                          2 poems
Untitled
The unhindered always feel
as if it’s a sea out there and they –
 swimming.
You, on the other hand need
To bleed to distinguish flow
from the nasty habit to know.
What is it about journeys
that summon the feet?
Then simply lace up balding streets.
Bring me your cobbled stone
That I may paint it red again
Just to mark a mile and move on.
Deseeding the stony silences
In the hope they’d recall their song again
And dissipate like always.

Living in Translation

How does it feel, girl
to be flipped around
like a page and read without
knowledge of your language 
which seeks secular spaces and instead
be offered a line ruled with su sanskar (good conditioning)
First born in a Gujju* family
then told to be woman enough
to cook sweet dal
bring it to boil and temper it
with black mustard seeds, green chilies and asafoetida – Done?
Learnt to be human?! Now claim this peak of possibility?
Kem Cho is a term. Use it to suggest ‘how are you?’
Don’t answer literally – stupid girl.
Literal translations are week in the knees 
will knock you over with its strings
cut away from the original. Being cut should now
come naturally. Continue.
Can’t you bend enough to touch
each big toe of dadaji and take blessings properly?
What a pathetic writer of malady.
Pappa’s big eyes always explain explicitly
the meaning of ‘proper’ – help me construct one more
verse for this poem writ un-translatable.
Sitting on the umbra will bring bad luck.
This threshold you cross never to re-turn.
The day we marry you and off you go go go . . .
your life begins when you wife a
suitable boy – cling to him. Try to turn your page
to the light of domesticity. Time to forget about your degree  (which you wished to, but we made sure you never had – nobody marries a girl with degrees in our gujju community!)
You see, vessels have enough space to
keep you occupied all day and if not –
have babies.

The Shaman’s Last Lover  
(excerpt)                                                                                               
short play
 
A furious letter to the one that claims that he loves me –
 
What’s all this thing about love, uh?  Do you see birds going around singing their love songs to each other, lions roaring their guts out about how much they love their lionesses? Well, maybe they do and hence, you may go on ahead and do the same. But what’s this that follows the proclamation even after it has been received and reciprocated to by your lover, uh? This demand of how you ‘need’ something to be a certain specific way and only then you can call your love, love and mine brittle enough that it stands damaged under the light of your ‘needs’, specifically, unfulfilled needs.
 
To make the long story short let me start with throwing some light on the nature of existence on this planet, especially amongst living things and before that let’s not differentiate heavily between humans, animals, birds, plants and insects. We are primarily organisms involved in the tragic-comic act of survival. Animals may do it corporeally with their limbic and other such systems more active and humans may do it further through emotional, mental and other such means as they may have access to. The point to remember is that it’s all in honor of survival. Animals and plants may be driven to survive the environment and each other while humans may be surviving each other and their own selves after they have some conquest over their environments outside of them. At the end  it is all about survival.
 
So, go on love and die for me and do all that you need to in order to convince me how much you love me. I am not conducting another debate on the history of love and love stories on how futile this becomes when life comes knocking at your chest and commands you to hand over your beating bloodied heart. At that moment the man or woman with a lack of self purpose or the one that finds himself or herself to be not the ‘chosen one’ will willingly cut out one’s heart and hand it right over. But and allow me to stress on this but, but the one that has even a faint inkling of her or his role in the scheme of things will clutch his or her chest and run in the other direction to what holds greater meaning. You may think her to be selfish, but do examine if you ever find the two birds still molly-codling each other long after the mating season is over and the little bird-lings have found feathers and flown away? 
 
If you are not done pretending that you didn’t get my last point, let me put it another way. Don’t you want the consistency of the pleasures of sex, food, security, comfort, companionship and all else just cause you are afraid, actually shit scared by repeated collective conditioning over thousands of years and hence you may not feel that primeval fear at this point, but just take my word for it – it’s there. Don’t you want to carry on mounting the stage of life each day every day just to repeat the day gone by and keep repeating it? Are you a living organism or a puppet? Puppets also go into an overhaul after they are torn to shreds with a million repeat performances. But look at your pathetic human history – the same possessiveness, the same ‘needs’, the same demands being fulfilled over and over again without an iota of insight into who you are and what are you here for, I mean on this planet, in this body?
 
I love you, I said. Didn’t I? But not for what you can give me, bring to me, offer me, regale me with but for who you are (until this point in time). I drew out my stardust-filled bag of love and showered it over you when I first met you and discovered what your life stands for; what you are living to unfold thenceforth and decided to walk together with you, hand in hand, offer you my shoulder to cry on and such other things. All of that with due respect stands under threat to fade now with this new characteristic of love with its strange bird of ‘demands’ and ‘needs’ that I must rise to meet in you.
 
I am not denying that I won’t or I can’t; I am questioning if that is the ground on which I’d like our love to continue to grow. Will the bricks of ‘demand’ and ‘needs’ hold the walls of the house of love that we are trying to build together, here? I am not saying that your ‘needs’ and ‘demands’ aren’t valid enough; I am simply asking that if you and I choose to respond to and fulfill these, will our house still have the peace and joy that a house of love should ideally have?

The other point of consideration I offer you my fellow organism, is that maybe I am entirely wrong in conducting this argument with you and maybe you are utterly right in responding to your needs and demanding what they compel you to. I am shifting away from my humanness for a while like all Shamans always do and looking at the larger scheme of things, of life. Does a bird cry when the snake eats up her eggs? How long does she cry, if at all she does? Does she brood that she may never be able to lay eggs again or forgive snakes ever? Alright so they have no great memory to do so, you say, then allow me to lay out the design in a different way.
 
How many of you out there know the exact purpose why you are born, or have even a slight inkling about it? Let’s assume, maybe 0.01% or none. Yet, things do get done through you which you have never imagined you would do – like win that medal, or be awarded the best employee of the month or lose 20 pounds, or adopt a child, or ever give birth to a child at all, or save a life or slap someone or fall off from a running train or be the first man to go to the moon or marry the woman you did marry finally, etc. Ya, sure you’d say ‘I knew’ at the moment. But think about that radical, out of the world, earth shaking experience you last had and try to enter a moment 10 years before that and ask yourself if in the future this would ever happen to you.
 
Just like the blood in your body has set patterns to follow and have certain set abilities of overcoming certain set obstacles in its path, so do you. Just like the atom in matter knows only a certain set ways to behave and interact with other atoms around it up to a certain set methods in certain set environments, so do you. But the probability of its changing course and coming a whole new part of matter, not knowing why or the blood freezing for no reason it knows are always a 100%. Aren’t they?
 
So are the reasons of anything happening to you without your partial or full consent are.
 
Who decides that?
 
Do you decide what happens to your blood? Does matter decide whether it will change its form by will?
 
I am not suggesting there is God? Let’s not get unknown entities involved here, shall we?
 
I am suggesting that if you find yourself being a puppet in the scheme of things, celebrate and look for the next direction from whoever or whatever maybe directing the scheme. If you want to bring an end to suffering and change the way your life has been so far, look for those signs and signals, quite your mind, come to your senses and use your survival instinct. It will guide you to read the script.
 
The tough part will be acting out the role enumerated there; that my fellow creature may not be pleasant to you and to those that you love. If you can’t be willing to suffer, there is nothing wrong in that; only that we all on a collective level (cats, ferns and pigeons including your favorite football player) will have to wait some 10,000 years more to live in paradise together  together and for real. Fortunately, evolution has no deadlines or set standards to reach, eh.
 
But, I am a Shaman – one who can see, breathe and act out the last detail of the script for I hear the heartbeat of life and its mysterious ways are clear as the sky to me. For I am a living creature just as the blade of grass and the mighty Ganges is and just as I chose to suffer such other loves before you for my script dictated so, I now chose to live out the next monologue in the script too. I hear standing ovation from the tides of life and the spirit of living just as the bird who lost her egg to the snake did and carried on to the next season and the next mate (or not) and no human need strain himself or herself to, with the slightest effort, try and lend even their understanding to this phenomenon I have found unfolding in and through me.
 
Don’t say you are not a Shaman or gifted in any way. That’s not true. For if you did not understand a word of what I have tried to throw light upon you are not a living creature and perhaps some alien I have no means to communicate with. But if you understood even a bit of what has been laid out here before you, you are my fellow creature, as gifted and as Shamanic as anyone has ever been. The difference is, perhaps, maybe your script does not dictate you to act it out that way. That’s all.
 
Let me assure you that you are doing your best to act out the script whether you know it or not. You are a puppet whether you signed up for it or not. The day you can see yourself not different from other living creatures around you, this will be easy for you to understand, act upon, honor and even thrive on. Just like I do (with your kind permission).
 
Let me give you the reality now – I am a Shaman in the modern world. I am a woman and not a man as you may have discovered, to your surprise, by now. I have gifts and abilities that have now begun to flourish to its peak in my 4th decade in body and I have this human side of me to manage and deal with as much as I have this gifted and magical side of me to manage and handle. I live in a highly patriarchal culture with mostly consumerists communities around. I am misunderstood first as a woman, then as a creative creature and then there is little space left for me to exist as a Shaman with all my true colors at their brightest best.
 
Then you walk in with your package of love, companionship, freedom to be who I want to be, security, support and interesting questions such as this one. After the initial honeymoon period or doting on each other, grooming and discovering the gold dust beneath each other’s wings, we swing into a routine. Routine is ritual and most necessary to build a nest that will last many seasons for some creatures like humans.
 
We carry on comfortably well for a period of time and then being a humanoid with specific things like memory and emotions we encounter in our parallel journeys a glitch. Or as I am given to observe, I find the old challenge in a new guise laid before me.
 
Your question of whether I understand your needs or not and am I willing to fulfill these or not are the same my parents put to me calling upon me to repay them; my friends put to me and many still continue till date so I may not make them look smaller or less significant than I am dictated to be; the society does on an everyday basis so I may not change too much too quickly and they can continue to be asleep for a little while longer; many lovers before you did and will continue to for how can one’s object of love remain consistent and perfect as it first was? And I am sure in the future my children will and their children will and oh, it’s such a celebration to master the art of dealing with the same challenge in different guise, eh?
 
Frankly, I am bored. And honestly my script dictates I carry on with the mission I am entrusted with and stop indulging in these human games of love and order.
 
A new challenge awaits me and what does a creative spirit, a Shaman and a woman in the 21st century want but to launch forth with full grist and gusto on a voyage that promises new storms to battle and yet again fill ones armor with chinks, more chinks.
 
vii.
 
Sindhuja Ramasubramanian                                                                                   2 poems

Virinchipuram

I wake to the call of parakeets,
And take lazy steps to the front yard.
The smell of burning cow dung,
sweetened with pumpkin flowers,
and water
cleanses me.
I don’t need another bath.

Stainless steel pots,
water tipping out,
are carried
into the house.

Plastic caskets,
overflow with flowers,
some picked from the
trees in the yard
and some
furtively, from
the neighbor’s.
It’s not stealing
if it’s for divine causes.

The day has started to grow,
sunlight condenses on
my shirt.
I must go in now.

Breakfast of dosas
and milagai podi –
leaves me thirsting
for more.

Electric clangs
sound everywhere –
it’s time for
deepa aradhanai
in the temple.

the village wakes
in my stride,
as I make my way
to the river side.
Easy chairs are laid out,
rustle of newspapers,
rendered richer
by the cackle
of hens and crows.

Scattered pails of water,
among sandy weeds –
the river had seen better times,
when the sky wasn’t as hungry,
and had some water to spare.

The cracked ground,
is thirstier than ever –
wrapping its arms
around my feet.

The heat form
a swamp around me –
I trudge home,
panting with
the effort.
And suddenly,
all the tranquility
makes sense.
Maybe the cooked greens,
I’ll eat at lunch
and the nap after,
will cool me down.

Prayer (a
sonnet)

Sandalwood fumes form a half
curtain,

lamps and incense cast an
orange glow,

Multi-colored flowers, tulsi garlands,
compete with each other as
they cling

to the perfectly chiseled
dainty form.

The toll of bells – electric, deafening,
drowns out the hastily
whispered prayers.

Traces of milk, turmeric
on the floor of the sanctum
santorum 

remnants of the holy abishekam,
performed earlier, with due
diligence

by the priest, clad in his
pure white dothi.

She stands still, hoping to
bury the pain

within the pleats of the goddess’sari.
viii.
 
Kamal Kumar Tanti                                                                                        3 poems
 
I am in a
closed shell

One o’clock in
the midnight;

And I am
talking to myself;
Talking to the
closed shells and walls;
talking to the closed winds touching my cheek
Two o’clock in
the midnight;
And it’s
raining heavily.
On my body,
falling from top walls;
The drops of
blood; and sounds of
somebody
weeping; stretched my legs
touching the
dead bodies I carried
from the hills
and the river-beds 
Three o’clock
in the midnight;
And I’m dying
over time.
Reading random
lines of my palm;
And looking at
the mirror in the dark;
And pondering
over who am I?
Am I the killer
or
The Killed?
I am and was
and will be
In a closed
shell;
Kidnapped by my
own self
Sleeping Road
 
The road to Laitumkhrah is sleeping
over the years; overburdened by
the fake emotions and logic.

The road to Laitumkhrah is sleeping
for the cause of living and
roots spreading,
for to find out old memories
and myth.

The road to Laitumkhrah is sleeping
waiting for me; to come and
put fire on it; to burn the soul
and ignite the minds.

The road to Laitumkhrah is sleeping.
as Laitumkhrah is awake;
as we are awake;
listening to the roaring sounds
of minds and souls.

Rain and Blood

One sunny
morning, I, on a boat, was crossing the river;

Accompanied by
a pea-cock and a fox; smelling the clouds
Scattered over
the layers of water; and fall asleep; looking at  
The mirrors
that I have and the sky spread over the hills.
I reached the
other end of the hills; woke up and found that the
Fox had eaten
the pea-cock; smelling clouds scattered and rained;
The mirrors are
broken and hills become red by the sky; and
My boat started
sinking over the layers of red dusty water.
I started
climbing up the hills; dressed in a dark skin and dusty cloths;
After few ups
and downs; reached the garden of reddish trees;
Where fruits
are always ripen and sweet; where birds always sings
For the dead
men and women; where nobody stays after the dark
There is
neither day nor night; and there is no counting of time;
No sun rise, no sun set; 
One day, when
it starts raining; it’s raining from blood; it’s raining for the
Dead men and
women; and I decided to return to my old place for good.
Alas !
There is no
return to the old world.
There is no
come back to the earlier life.
And I wanted to
die.  
But no one can
die.
And no one can
live.
I started
praying for the rain and blood;
Rain of blood
and blood for the rain
    
 
ix.
 
Kamayani Chauhan                                                                                          poem
 

She moves like the wind

In corridors, the girl walking with her arms parallel to the ground,
Fingers making waves in the wind,
Winds blowing from the mouths of the masses shrieking
Shrieking
Names, places, Things, Things
Her arms parallel to the sky, the earth
Touching the middle earth, and the songs of the people
You see her, disheveled
but she is nonchalant to your stares,
mixing into backgrounds, submerging within the sea of people
With hair in places you can’t imagine
reeking of sun, soil and rain
Hands halting the strings of sun
sun in her palm, shining through her fingers
The red rays the compass to her soul
you see her whistling at the trees,
The trees swishing response
Her tips reaching up
His petals reaching out
and up she is perched on the highest finger
with her arms vertical to the ground
and the green water
Shimmering takes in empty bottles and dead cigarettes
pale green water with shadows & stories,
she sighs and runs her hands along,
the curve of the bark
the brown against the brown
you don’t hear her utter syllables
Sound strange from her lips,
but the grass tickles her neck,
as ants climb up her legs,

up the hills, downs the valleys
she  moans
her tongue gushing like the flowing river,
against the resistant rocks, crumbling under
the pressure of her torrid rain, crashing against her teats

Brown-skin, sounds and taste
humming to the crow scooping the green of drizzle
she moves like the trickle of the rain on the window
One among many, free
lost but secure
The chirp of the cuckoo louder than the tick of the clock,
The twist of the tree bolder than the curl of her hip
her room under the stars, among the leaves  with maps
and grains and veins

Her America  A patch of flowers in a sea of concrete
You feel her, swim against the rocks
but you can’t see her fight against the city
But you see her, soaring
her arms flowing like the wind,
her hair swishing like the trees, smelling of ash
of Skin, of Water

Of spring, Of fall

x.
Bishnupada Ray                                                                                                  musings
Adrift
Sea has a strange connection with life.
It implies mystery, voyage and adventure and also the common metaphorical sense
of despair that we are adrift. It evokes a sense of contingency, a sense of
most difficult time in life, most controversial, most agonizing yet the most
insightful and creative. It is the time when the disillusionment comes,
betrayal comes, unexpected bitterness happens and life is confronted face to
face like a tiger as in the Life of Pi.
Staying a night at Gopalpur-on-sea we hear the sound of the steady wind
wheezing about the shore where the waves break with a strange cry and we see a
distant light of a sea-faring vessel glimmering in the dark-like death. In the
morning the fishermen come back from the sea with their catch and nimble crabs
run helter-skelter on the shore in a melee. The fecundity is absolute and the
dead lighthouse behind the shoreline stands like an illusion of the prolonged
struggle for existence. Waves keep on drifting vicariously on the fecundity.
Implacable Shadows
Over my house shadows loom, shadows
implacable and grimacing and grim like the grim reaper. Another day falls like
the unsung heroes of a civil war. Inside the house divided, something is
irreparably broken. When the leaves fall in the spring wind and when the whistles
of a far-off train are heard, the memory of summer and winter brings in a
yearning for wholeness that tears the mind apart like an old violence. A tragic
flaw still persists like blindness. Tear wells up from a chasm like
helplessness. In the sky of transition, the heart-beat signals are getting
straightened into a straight line. With every beat and every beating, the
archetypal nihilism breaks out like spasms of self-annihilation. The shadows
fall between the full-time restlessness and a Godot-like peace. Cankers are
everywhere to eat my soul with a patronizing smile and they deny me a second
chance of rebirth. My promises to the foot soldiers and my appointments with my
mentors also fail along my line of defense. Before the shadows come dancing and
take me to hell, I hurry to arrange my lines into a deadline of an apocalypse.
 xi.
 
Nitya Swaruba                                                                                                       3 poems
 
Photograph by Nitya Swaruba

A Memory


I have a memory
A memory of colors
Colors from your clothes
Clothes you wear every day
Every day it registers in my mind
My mind is a place for many things
Things I keep in it are less
Less like two or three
Three’s company, but sometimes a crowd
Crowd control is easy when you are close
Close enough to my heart.
Elixir Gone Wild
Contained at sea, calm
and serene
Along the beach, you
play at my feet
A glass of you I can
surely hold 
From a shower in a tub
hot or cold
The best bet to quench
my thirst
I reach for you quite
unrehearsed
When a drizzle, you’re a
matter of joy
With time and place now
you chose to toy
You’ve come too much too
far
A dampness to sorrow the
heart
Stagnant but violent,
out of control
Elixir of life, now
you’re taking a toll.
 
Gut Wrenchers!
Butterflies are a
delight
Eyes follow them out of
sight
Until they turn
idiomatic
There’s a perfect sense
of panic
When in the stomach they
fly
A weird place to feel
pain
Not the heart or the
brain
A thought is clenched
The gut is wrenched
Every bit of happiness
drained
Anything, big and small
Treasured, suddenly
withdrawn
The world freezes
A million diseases
Here’s how it would’ve
gone 
Heart exploded in ways I
can’t describe
Torn apart from the
world I stood
Lie and truth stabbing
my insides
Pushed me into the abyss
for good
In the darkness I ran around
desperate
Searching for fairness I
won’t
find
I suffocated between
love and hate
While a black hole
devoured my mind
I fell through this
black hole
Detached from everything
alive
Scrambling hopelessly
for a handhold
I only sensed virtual
death arrive . . .
Life is stranger than
fiction
Weird addictions, then
crucifixion
Don’t you let them latch
on
You have a dream to
catch on
Embrace that life with
conviction. 
 

Photographs by Nitya Swaruba from the series titled ‘The Imitation Game’
 

xii.

Sanjeev Sethi                                                                                                          3 poems
Conduction
If you enter poetry

like a nabob before a nautch

it will leave you listless.

When you peruse a poem, perpend it

like a psalm or salat. When faith

is installed guerdon is assured.

Parnassus has to be pampered, immune

from the inhibitions of mind only then

will it woo with its vim and valence.

When you undress a poem with dignity,

delicately like a lover, it will disrobe you

of excess, accessing your inner feelings.

Aesthetics
Words slither or startle but sometime one

wants to shoo them from the cobbled

pathways of cursed intersections.

I seek the right amount of roundness in stone

unlike the hazy pastiche of wholeness

hanging in the museum of my mind.

The merchant of memory opens and closes

its kiosk at will. When you’re wont to face

capriciousness it is sensible to store.

Statistics are OK as long as they don’t impinge

on the self. One leaky prophylactic is all it takes

for a coup de theatre.
Worlds
Existence is a grand triptych.

First one occupies mother earth

that you and I understand

as wheelbarrow of worldliness.

Another populates our head.

Individuals control rights to grant

passports to this microcosm.

An uncluttered brain

is the boulevard of bliss,

one’s porch to peace.

Third in the triad is maya.
xiii.
Goirick  Brahmachari                                                                                             2 poems
For Anil
So they left this arid city of hallucinatory stones and covetous skies
that dances to the chimes of concretes and walls
only to disappear into the cold, cold forests of Dehra
where the lamp lite Mussoorie hills rise up
to find a solace through years of rage and struggle
Who cares about an old man of 1960’s?
In this uber cool, sexy, cleavage life.
Until, one day, when the paints started drying and the canvas laid bare
by the side of a river, I have always wanted to die.
 Love
in times of Siesta
1.
Afternoons,
like boats in a river

eat up all the roads that lead to my home
for memory stings like rotten paper and
white wastes from a paper mill,
over a hill that we have crossed through many
boat rides
for years, on blue baby-camel-buses
over pebbles and paddy fields
and bridges made of honey
and glassine, now golden and ripe again —
like a summer mango-pickled
afternoon that hates mathematics,
stealing sugar and puffed rice
from glass jars through the kitchen window
before the mosquitoes start coming in.
 
2.
Afternoons,
and the memory of summer swings like a song
that
calls upon the dusk to the eyes of a Santal girl
for
the winds to blow and black clouds to gather
over
the vast, dead, ripped paddy fields.
Out
here, Summer grinds a city to dust.
Dusk
travels through the dark rooms
of
poorly constructed apartments 
where
‘low quality’ migrants like us live;
through
the tapered alleys of Sunday village markets
and
citric ceilings made of plastic
at
mid hours of a dehydrated day
in
search of  a stale, suffocated fantasy
escorted
by the noise of a broken air cooler
that
refuses to cool the canned air
But,
as the sky paints itself black again,
there
is enough dust in our eyes
to
escape this rain.








H. Masud Taj

H. Masud Taj book inducted in Library of Parliament and installed at Canadian Chancery in India. 
The Embassy of Liminal Spaces carries 35 plates of calligraphy rendering a long poem that probes our co-dwelling in the world and the world of our imagination. The book ends with a concept note on architecture as the poem is permanently installed in the new Canadian Consulate General in India. On March 7th this year, the third anniversary of the poem, the book was inducted in the Library of Parliament. It is also Taj’s third book to be added to Carleton University’s Archives and Research Collections SPC (after Alphabestiary, 2011 and Nari Gandhi: Apprentice to Frank loyd Wright, 2009).The multilingual edition by Global Affairs features a French translation of the poem by President and Vice-Chancellor Roseann O’Reilly Runte and a Hindi translation in the Devanagari script by Prof. Rajiv Trivedi. The book also features commentaries on the work by literary critic Dr. Bruce Meyer and art critic Dr. Petra Halkes. He is also among the winners of the Carleton University Literary Competition 2016: 
http://carleton.ca/creativewriting/writing-competition/winners/
Calligraphy plates:
For a complimentary digital copy of the book please send your request to: [email protected]

You can also catch Masud Taj at work here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfVlQaF_8ko

Menka Shivdasani

Menka Shivdasani is a founder member of Poetry Circle, which began in Mumbai in 1986. Her first book of poems, Nirvana at Ten Rupees, was published by XAL-Praxis in 1990, and was described by Bruce King as “one of the best first books of poetry to appear during the 1990s” (Modern Indian Poetry in English, Revised Edition, OUP, 2001.)  Her second poetry collection Stet appeared in 2001, and has recently been reprinted under the imprint of Sound and Picture Archives for Research on Women (SPARROW). 

Safe HouseMenka is also co-translator of Freedom and Fissures, an anthology of Sindhi Partition poetry, published by the Sahitya Akademi in 1998, and subsequently republished by the Akademi in Marathi and Gujarati translation. An anthology of women’s writing that she edited, which forms part of a series being brought out by SPARROW, is due to be published shortly. She is guest editor of a forthcoming anthology of Indian poetry for www.bigbridge.org, Michael Rothenberg’s literary e-zine.

Menka’s most recent book volume is Safe House, published by Poetrywala.
Safe House: A Poetrywala publicationhttp://paperwall.in/books/55/Safe-House

Beneath a Single Moon
Susan Griffin

Ocean

Strength comes in waves.
Only some know this.
They don’t tell.
They know only in unknowing.
They go back millenia
are small, terrified
within the sea and the cell.
They have let go the line of history.
They no longer know
what they knew.

Like children suffering
they enter uncertainty completely.
And like children they
seem to be weak and trembling
in the shadow
of the larger wave.

Gary Snyder

For Nothing

Earth a flower
A phlox on the steep
slopes of light
hanging over the vast
solid spaces
small rotten crystals;
salts.



Earth a flower
by a gulf where a raven
flaps by once
a glimmer, a color
forgotten, as all
falls away.



A flower
for nothing;
an offer;
no taker;

snow-trickle, feldspar, dirt.

 Courtesy: Beneath a Single Moon: Buddhism in Contemporary American Poetry (1991) edited by Kent Johnson and Craig Paulenich; SHAMBALA, Boston & London

Books

Saptavarna Chitrapatanga                                                                                    new release

(The Rainbow Butterfly)

 
 
 
Saptavarna Chitrapatanga, published by Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture (SAFIC/Auro Publications) tells the story of how four little children are taken to a dreamland on a white elephant and their encounter with a rainbow-coloured butterfly who wishes to join the children on their return journey to Earth. The events leading to this encounter and the children’s return journey to Earth depicts, through the storytelling, subtle and fluid qualities such as fragility, compassion, understanding, and a love for Nature.


One of the few stories narrated by children, now translated into Sanskrit with four-colour illustrations, this book aims to reach out to children between the ages 9 and 15. 
 
To know more about the book or buy it, click here.

The Ontological Wall                                                                                 book review
Bishnupada Ray
(a review of Jaydeep Sarangi’s The Wall and
Other Poems)
In
Jaydeep Sarangi’s latest book of poems The
Wall and Other Poems
one can sense the dilemma the poet faces between the
two credos: the credo of a liberal artist and the credo of a committed artist.
The credo of the liberal artist is universalism, in the mould of western
liberal humanism, which the committed artist discards as pseudo humanist,
pseudo liberal and pseudo universalist aesthetic, a rejection common among the
third world artists. On the contrary, the liberal artist can claim that to be
committed is to embrace a regional, political, sectarian and parochial aesthetic.
In short, the dilemma for the artist is to remain apolitical (liberal) or to
become political (committed). 





Sarangi’s title for the book, as he himself makes
clear in the title poem “The Wall”, is borrowed from the famous Frost poem
“Mending Wall” that at once brings back the age-old debate of putting up a wall
and thereby limiting oneself within bounds, or to do away with a wall and
thereby delimiting oneself without bounds. The debate, as we can well see, is
augmented and given a new dimension by the third world or postcolonial artist
who is committed to break the wall of normative western aesthetic (of the
oppressor) in favour of a more ethical humanism (of the oppressed). Sarangi
aptly places the blame of erecting the wall on the colonial or neocolonial
oppressor (‘Eagles’) and then goes to the reversal of history in defying the
wall, through the mixing of cultures or multiculturism.


Years
back I got a paper. Eagles had their party
To
build the wall
Between
the minds, rivers and mountains . . . .
 
Time
ran a full circle
Clouds
dispersed. It rained.
Our
souls were heavy with memory
Had
one story.
Life
had a new course. Perspectives became global
Neighbourhood
friendly.
(“The Wall”)


The
western aesthetic, though liberal in concept, is deeply political, that is to
say, it creates the western norms of humanism at the cost of the Other. On the
contrary, ‘committed’ sounds like parochial but in the long run it makes the
truly revolutionary and liberatory aesthetic. In Sarangi’s poetry the wall is a
border and also a ‘Lakshmanrekha’, and his poetry becomes a border crossing in
various senses. He makes a move in the psychoanalytic field, from conscious to
unconscious, from knowable to the unknowable, from the repressor to the
repressed.


Dark
night kindles the chamber of thoughts
I
never know where I roam.
A
full day drags me back
Possibly,
a shadow in the back
The
other half of a lighted discouse.
(“Stories Beyond the Wall”)


The
dividing line between the master and slave, the dominator and the dominated
still persists like patriarchy, as Sarangi takes up a feminist tone of border
crossing in his poem ‘Lakshmanrekha’.


Her
vessel has water from native links
Red
soil and dry leaves of Sal and Mahuya.
A
male shadow follows her
Like
a dominant caste.
There
are limits around her neck
So
many nails to cross
So
many walls to dig holes
Before
borders extended up to child caring and child rearing.
(“Lakshmanrekha”)
But
the most mysterious wall is the ontological wall that one faces within the
being. Sarangi’s poetry is solipsistic dialogues happening in the soul, in his
search for true self, elusive and illusory like a “Mysterious Mistress” and
part of some confused psychological need of the poet. The experience of the
wall is a vale of soul making, a veil to be lifted and a wail of despair, in
his passage from chaos to creation. This creation depends on a sense of
wholeness and fullness, like the sacred well of life. That may well be the
ultimate vision that one will gather in this collection of poems.
The Wall and Other Poems

by Jaydeep Sarangi

Cyberwit.net
Allahabad 
2015
ISBN
978-81-8253-591-6
contributors

Aswin Vijayan is a poet currently
residing in Bangalore. He attempts to capture the dynamics of everyday in his
poetry. His poetry has found a nest in a few journals and anthologies including
Yellow Chair Review, Algebra of Owls, Bangalore Poetry Festival 2016 Anthology (RainDrops Company), and Shakespeare: As You Like It Anthology
(Farook College). He also curates a poetry website called
Write and Wrong (
www.writeandwrongpoetry.wordpress.com).

Asha Iyer
 started her career in Press Trust of India, 
Mumbai. Since then she worked as editor, writer and reporter for various dailies and magazines in Mauritius, Hong Kong and New Zealand. She also was the website content developer of New Zealand Herald, the country’s largest newspaper. Asha now lives in Vancouver, Canada, with her husband Vinod.

Mumbai-based, Sunil Sharma is a widely published Indian critic, poet, literary interviewer, editor, translator, essayist and fiction writerHe has published three collections of poetry, one collection of short fiction, one novel and co-edited five books so far. His six short stories and the novel Minotaur were recently prescribed for the undergraduate classes under the Post-colonial Studies, Clayton University, Georgia, USA. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award  2012. Recently, his poems were published in the UN project: Happiness: The Delight-Tree-2015.


Sonali Raj is a poet from Delhi. She did an MFA in creative writing from City University, Hong Kong. Sonali’s work has appeared in Pink Pages, Eastlit and a few other places.
Jay K. Mishra is mining engineer from IIT-BHU, Varanasi. He moved to Houston, USA in 2007 to pursue higher studies. Currently, he lives in Houston and writes part time. Jay has a PhD from Rice University and his poems have been published in TWJ magazine.

Deepali P. (b. 1972)  unfit for this world and unwilling to fit in. “Some of us have a job of standing out like a soar thumb, refuse bandage and say things the way they are, demonstrate vulnerability and execute reality in its grim yet glorious form”. She writes and paints, dances, acts, directs, raises a young one, works with children in education and draws upon the need to “just make” all that can be made from rubble and mist, from bones of reality and magic. Dipalle’ used to be an award-winning Interior designer-architect and then she refused to fit in, keep quiet, pretend. Her art, writings and creative education work spans almost 2 decades engaging with what does it mean to be woman, to be human, to anchor the elusive strands of creating in the midst of a battlefield. “The Shaman’s Last Lover” won the second prize for students of Management College in Mumbai at the November 2016 “Talaash” inter-college competition.

Sindhuja Ramasubramanian is a software engineer and a freelance writer based out of Bangalore, India. Her work (including essays, poetry, and short fiction) has appeared in newspapers and journals such as The Hindu, Muse India, eFiction IndiaThe Reading Hour, The Tower Journal and The Aerogram. She blogs at http://picturesquereflections.wordpress.com/


Kamal Kumar Tanti (b. 1982) is a bilingual poet and writer, writes both in English and Assamese
languages. He belongs to the Adivasi Tea-garden Labourer Community of Assam. His
first collection of Assamese poetry Marangburu Amar Pita (Our Father
Marangburu
), published in 2007, won him the prestigious Sahitya Akademi
Yuva Puraskar for 2012, for Assamese language and Munin
Barkotoki Literary Award in 2008. Kamal’s English poems have appeared in many journals,
including Indian Literature, The Little Magazine, Muse India, Kavya Bharati,
Pyrta, Exchanges Literary Journal, Cerebration, NELit Review, Kritya, Visual
Verse, Steer Queer
, etc. His poems also included in several anthologies of
English poems, including 40 Under 40: An anthology of Post-Globalization
Poetry, Shout It Out! Anthology, The World I Write In,
etc. His forthcoming collection of Assamese poetry
is Uttar-Ouponibeshik Kabita (Postcolonial Poems). Kamal’s has a collection of prose in Assamese, Nimnaborgo Somaaj
Oitijya
(Subaltern Society’s Legacy). He also writes fiction. Kamal has a PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics. He currently
works as an Assistant Professor of Physics at University of
Technology and Management, Meghalaya and lives in Shillong. 
 
Kamayani Chauhan is a student of literature and a graduate from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, New Delhi. She wrote her first poem at the age of 9 (her mother didn’t believe that she had written it) and has been writing ever since. Her love for the streets of Delhi, children (both human and animal), their rights and the political are as overwhelming as the Delhi heat. She hopes to travel across the country, write about dust and destruction, and finally settle down in the hills with a few children, dogs, and cows.


Bishnupada Ray is an Associate Professor of English at the University of North Bengal and an Indian poet. His most recent book of poems Winter Sky and Selected Poems was published by brown critique and his forthcoming one, Fox-Land and Other Poems is also due to be published later this year by brown critique.  
 
Nitya Swaruba loves the English language and began writing poems from late 2014. Hardly influenced or inspired, she discovered this passion over time. Now she gets her inspiration more from ideas and events than anything else—but also from those closest to her. She draws from people’s experiences and situations around her. Nitya says, “I don’t have to personally go through stuff to write about it!” She uses simple language and her style is subversive, far from conventional poetry, which makes it unusually unique. Nitya’s poems will take you on many journeys—about nature, people, free living, reclamation, time and place, fantasy, dreams, affection, and love, with varying levels of intensity. Nitya is a copy editor for a publishing company in Pondicherry (Puducherry), India. She loves watching TV and movies. She recently became passionate about nature photography, which at times she collaborates with her poetry. 

 
Sanjeev Sethi has published three books of poetry. This
Summer and That Summer
 (Bloomsbury, 2015) is his latest. His poems have found a
home in The London MagazineThe Fortnightly Review, Ink
Sweat and Tears, Sentinel Literary Quarterly,
 Amaryllis Poetry, Allegro Poetry Magazine, Desiblitz, The Galway Review, The Open Mouse, I am not a Silent Poet, Otoliths, Meniscus,
Literary Orphans, Anti-Heroin Chic, Right Hand Pointing, Futures Trading,
The Aerogram,
Thirteen Myna Birds, and
elsewhere. Poems are forthcoming in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Yellow Chair Review,
Postcolonial
Text,
A New Ulster, First Literary Review-East,
Drunk
Monkeys
, Of/with:, Linden Avenue
Literary Journal,
and Cavalcade of Stars. He lives in Mumbai,
India. 
 
Goirick Brahmachari lives in Delhi, He hails from Silchar, Assam. His first collection of poems For the love of Pork (January, 2016) was recently published by Les Editions du Zaporogue, Denmark.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.