March 2012

March 2012
i.
3 poems

A Dirge from the North East 
Yumlam Tana                  
                                                                                                                
The Atlas map book
Says nothing about our lands and forest rights,
The exploitation of the poor by the rich,
The loss of our traditions and culture,
Disease, hunger and death:
A book of wry info graphics, its intricate lines and legends are the Warf and woof the
spin doctors uses to manufacture a new myth every day for us.
Our school day’s pledge reinforcing what the book of maps was trying to teach us and
others of our ilk, all the while:
That all Indians are our brothers and sisters.
It never tried to tell us that we are the proud children of Abotani.
A genus of the endangered Homo Insipiens,
We took to wearing curious western garbs
Convinced that the old feathers were shed so that new and bright ones would grow in
their place
And happily adopted strange habits and customs that made us ashamed of our self-
indulgences,
Our appetite for the new wealth,
Our newfound lust for life,
Adoption of strange lingua francas to communicate with each other,
Compulsion to belong and be accepted by the other.
The tribes sail under the banner of new Gods in search of new beginnings,
No one knows why when the vessels were put to the sea the Individual selves drifted to
different shores far away in different directions.
Victims of stochastic events
We seek refuge in a delusionary future that seem more comforting than the past we went
through,
Through the ages, through all our wonderings, through the route taken by our forbearers
to reach the present we call our beloved home land.
The trespassers not knowing what to call the place named it, in alien tongue, Arunachal
Pradesh, albeit the land of rising sun.
Impressive, Nee?
Reminds us of a great country in the Far East,
In the heart of the pacific,
Well known for its advancement in scientific civilization.
They even re-christened our lakes, our rivers, our forests, our institutions, our men,
women and children after their own names of places and faces.
That is how the ‘Gekar Sinyi’ became the ‘Ganga ’ maybe to purify the brackish waters
saturated with innocent tribal superstitions.
That is how we have a surfeit of institutions named after this great Indian leader and that
patriotic Indian freedom fighter.
That is how my cousin is named after a famous bollywood star: Yumlam Govinda.
Giving names to our lands and its people is no longer our prerogatives, we do not speak
of it as our birthright.
This land where we were born and where our ancestors lie buried in its sacred soil
Is a no man’s land,
Where anyone can intrude into and lay claim on the rivers, mountains and trees,
By putting a tag on them to mark ownership.
Of course, you don’t notice it at the first glance
People accustomed to seeing the glitz and glamour of city life
Will hardly trouble themselves to look at a mere fob located in the backwaters of
civilization.
There is nothing to covet here, no wealth, no pomp or personal glory;
Only the harsh realities of life, the everyday business of living and dying.
Who would want such stuffs!
Who would be interested to know about it,
After all it is not a famous place like Bangalore
Known for its aeronautical industry
Or tinsel town Mumbai, Metro-Kolkota and Madras – oops! Chennai is it?
Or for instance, Michael jackson’s America –
We Indians have a strange habit of talking about Bill Gates
Or Madhuri Dixit
As if they are next door neighbours
Our knowledge of the rich and famous is so minute
That we know when one of the those celeb couples had a fight
Over a piece of toothpick in one of those socialite evenings
To the lurid particularities of their undergarments colour
And their innumerable fads and fetishes.
Yet, you would not know where my homestate is
Or pretend not to know it just in order to put us to size.
You let us know our equations with each other and our place under the sun
When you mistake us for a Japanese or a Chinese tourist.
You know so little about us .
Despite six decades of living together
And adopting your freedom fighters as our patriots,
Accepting your government,
Learning to speak your languages and trying to fit in every possible way.
And then you exhort us to join the mainstream
Whenever someone amongst us is misguided and go astray, as you say,
In the name of sovereignty, for the right to self-determination
Or merely for a square meal a day.
I need a clarification here: What is this mainstream that you talk about?
Is it a big stream where all the tributaries will lose their identities?
Where the smaller fish will live in perpetual fear of the bigger fish
In a fish-eat-fish world?

Photo by Paramjeet Singh Berwal

Iguana

In the heart of a City,
A cluster of bamboo and few gangly trees
Throb with life.
The ganglion of vegetal remains,
Had been spared for the time being only
By the sprawls of the land sharks with their innocuous smoking
habits.
In the heart of the city,
Nay, inside its very core where its tissues are still aspic and
pristine, yet to be singed by the fumes emitting from its
dyspeptic factories and sick people or sullied by the filth and
grimes from its numerous chockablock sewers and canals,
There an Iguana has a home for itself burrowed deep inside the
moist earth
Safe from the heats of the sweltering city
As the birds of the air drop by
Looking for food and shelter amongst its foliages,
Thriving as the landlord had no money to develop the property
Or build a house in the site as of then, perhaps.
Last heard, a real estate guy purchased the plot after paying
through his nose.
But before that,
The patch of green forest
Already had swarms of slum-boys
Scouring through its thick undergrowths for small games and wild
berries.
One of the wretched souls boasts of
Being a damn good shot with the hand-catapult,
Having smashed the brittle head of a sunbird with a stone pellet
The silent cove with ancient eyes
Witnessed more acts of blood and gore
Following that act of decapitation of an avian life.
The iguana too had been pulled out of its hole
And taken away despite some muffled protest
Which only the trees heard, brooding under the grey sky of the
march month
And having seen it all, made a foregone conclusion about
themselves …

On Leaving the Village

I left for a Selesian’s School early in life

Eager for some sort of Education.
I, who was to be not the lone pioneer in the field:
Before me the older boys had trundled down the slope of our hills
To the plains where these Schools that took catechism classes were,
Off the inner line, forbidden to enter the restricted areas peopled with quaint tribes
Living in protective isolation of the government
And after me younger boys in droves were put to schools
Where all of us learnt, apart from many other important things,
The two most important languages of the country, Hindi and English –
One was the so-called national language of India
And the other, tongue of the rich and famous.
The heady cocktail of both implied the ticket to ultimate happiness and prosperity.
Our well meaning guardians were anxious that we learn the ways of the clever Hariangs –
Their ABC and their 123
(Which we learnt by rote with dexterity);
Their songs and dances, their religion,
And learnt to see people and places, ourselves included, from their perspectives;
We even learnt to acquire for ourselves the trappings of a gentleman in their society,
Learnt to smoke and gamble, booze and party,
Ride a desk, drive a car, sing a bollywood song,
Contest election, bid for tenderworks, climb up the social ladder, socialize with each other and hobnob
with VIPs in the corridors of power,
All these and everything else that made them the more civilized than us
We learnt that we forgot everything about ourselves,
Our customs, our traditions, our history, our world view.
Now after us, our children have disowned their mother tongue
And smirk at our piety brazenly.
I had left my village
And never returned to it.
Returning is not the option for the river
Who knows that he cannot defy nature’s law
To turn back to the amniotic source.
I have nothing to salvage from the wreckage of the empty homes,
The distant years, the faded memories
That seem to have little to do with me now.


ii.
3 poems

At The Pat Bay Airport Playing Billy Bishop                                                                  

Roland G. Rasmussen

Our neighbour, Jim, chases birds off the runway,

Serious this is. What the airport trained him to do
To chase kids. And he is a warm human being.
“Boys – don’t ride your bikes
On the tarmac!”
In our Sopwith Camels we train guns.
Say, we are on a mission.
Back up in the air.
The ground: Giant Toadskin. Sweep clean of the
Sun. “Blow Bogey chunks!”

Storm Brand I

A boy collecting fuselages and Styrofoam gliders,
Scales that Sabre jet on the crooked post
By the Legion.
See the propeller spin, the real live-action
Dumb-dumb yowl –
When the elastic snapped back and
Shot him over Pat Bay.
Up-up and over
The boring old farts exiting
The Legion after dark.

Storm Brand II

In the parking lot of the Legion
A boy blow-torching bees found
The opening under the belly
Of the Sheridan tank. Got in.
Revved it up for a night battle
Uphill – committing a heresy
To the rumour of war –
The suburban landscape.
Inside the deep innards, the bullet-proof &
Chipped glass, floors covered in excrement –
This graffiti written on the green:
“Watch me crumble all before me,
Single out an’ isolate me, make my toys ‘come real.
Make me unleash a salvo –”
On top of the hatch
He sat waiting for his parents.
“Hell yeah,” the boy said, “either
Make me a soldier
Or sell me for parts.”

The Similkameen River Wishful [Fraser influenced]

The source rolls along the underpin

Like red salmon pooled in the current.
Past Bromley Rock, there, near Keremeos,
They rise like in a band of crystal
From a smashed-in thunder egg.
The water is cold.
The river purrs the name
Dragging-up alongside her chest,
Her lover spikes through the passes
Into the catacomb of her ear.
He is the dreamer nesting beside the river.
He moves the rapids –
Feels the cold water, her bobbing heart’s release.
They are sledged into the sublime.
They wish the river. The snow melt throb
Of the wishful Similkameen whispers to him:
“I am here.”
The shells have walls and valleys.
There is friction in the inky smoke and fire light.
They wrap themselves in the dream contained.
The dream is a white shell sunk into the Similkameen.

iii.
short fiction

Bhagirathi                                                                                                                
Smitha Sehgal                         

The yellowy brown calloused leaves murmured and rustled, letting the wind carry them along its wanton ways. A lone star hung above the purple horizon as dusk descended upon the banks of Hooghly. The banyan trees came alive momentarily before the birds nestled down to sleep.
Leaving behind the familiar sights and sounds of  Park Street and Shakespeare Sarani, the car disappeared into narrow roads and bylanes before sighting the main highway. Pools of water mirroring lanky coconut trees stretched along as the afternoon sun slanted to take a dip. Puffed clouds of smoke arose from the shanties scattered along the way. I closed my eyes in a bliss that comes only from the knowledge of unconditional love I was bequeathed with. This second home of mine welcomed me with outstretched arms of maternal love every time I set foot upon it. Toying with thoughts, I slipped into a siesta before being woken up by the swerve of the car which came to a halt abruptly. Sri Rama Krishna Mission , it said.
The crowd was sparse and the air was cool and serene. Walking across the large courtyard I climbed up the steps now with ease and familiarity and now lost like a stranger and tourist. Bela must have passed by these verandahs and rooms, I thought, trying to capture impressions of each stone and pillar in my mind. Her thoughts infused me with reassurance and enthusiasm. The beautiful Bela whose face lit up with a brilliant smile every time her eyes met mine; long tresses wrapped in a chignon, decked with a string of jasmine flowers; dark eyelashes curled upwards in a picture perfect still.
Together we savoured the charm Calcutta laid out before us. Chirpy morning walks at Victoria eavesdropping to the mirthful conversations of old Marwari men, wayside tea in earthern cups under a drizzling sky , delightful spread of quiet and sumptuous breakfast at Flurys , recce through the alleys of Gariahat under tropical sun for cotton saris from Basak….. sitting with folded legs, we sweet talked the salesmen into showing us bundles of sarees till we felt tired for the day.  She smiled back fondly in the mirror as I adjusted the folds of the cream sari with red and gold border.
It was Bela who brought alive the fervour of Durga Puja in our household at Delhi .We danced to the beat of drums locking our arms. She stood by me as I climbed up the pedestal to make offerings of folded paan to Ma Durga and her children. The vermilion we smeared on each other’s face rejoiced in Sindoor Khela.
My soul seemed to illuminate the brilliance of a thousand oil lamps, drifting away in the currents of another world. Melodious bells rang marking the close of evening prayers. I got up abruptly and walked towards the river bank. Young boys swam in and out of the waters, daring the onlookers to throw a coin into the river. They dived within expertly and came back with the coins. I stared with awe at the vast expanse of the mesmerizing Ganges which, upon  entering West Bengal took on the name Hoogly.
Bela had run long after the black Impala sped away , till a merciless sun crumpled her like a withered wayside flower. The baby had wailed, beating against the window panes with his tiny fists, tears streaming down his face. An elaborate and carefully worded document drawn on a stamp paper securely rested in the almirah of the patriarch of her marital household. It defiantly declared that she had willingly deserted her husband and child aged two in pursuit of her professional aspirations and that she had forsaken all claims on her husband and child . In her night mares, the baby slipped from her hands and she woke up with a start, once again  sinking back into the folds of fever.
Gingerly I dipped my toes into the water. The tiny ripples swirled welcomingly. The sand beneath seemed to shift. Now it was dark and the crowd had begun to disperse. The young boys who clamoured around to showcase their swimming skills had left for the day. I envied them for their proximity with Hooghly.
The sky and river had become grey in their togetherness. Sand shifted again under my feet. I did not feel afraid. I thought about Bela — the beautiful Bela who smiled back brilliantly to me across the glass frame; who went past me as fragrance of burning incense sticks; who glowed softly like the oil lamp by the prayer; who ran in my veins as reverberation of drum beats at Dhunucchi; who reached out in maternal love as I fed my husband to whom she had left the inheritance of twin dimples; the abandoned Bela who walked into the deep waters of Bhagirathi — Hooghly three and a half decades ago, determined to live on beyond life.

iv.
poem
Pink coal                                                                                                                         

Mradul Sharma

by the reticent green,

with spurts of unidentified purple, i see
strawberries wrapped in coal,
their colour barely hidden
in the jet-black of the fabric.
a large blob of yellow cotton
rolling in circles, trapped
in the mild spring whirlwind.
playing in the sun. i see shadows
of humongous structures
unable to distress the petty pleasures
leaping off tiny rhyming lilacs.
the zephyr has understood
the architecture of concrete columns
and discovered its way around
to talk to people.
and i see this repose of the sky
in the backyard of all the humdrum
making itself available
to all those who remember.
how do you not see
that i see you.

v.
2 poems

If I Were Death                                                                                                                

Aftab Yusuf Shaikh
       
Chants and rants of me being
               Your life, your love, your breath,
I hear very often these days,
More often than the temple bells.
Who is averse to life? Honestly!
             Shall not one love the color
The fragrance of living?
             My dear woman, what new is in it,
If you love me as life?
But love if such be
That you embrace me in my worst flow,
                  Disown I will all world’s wealth,
                  Abandon I will all matters of relation,
             If you prepare to love me
Even if I were death!

Deliverence
   

Deliverence! Famed Deliverence!
The saints say much of it,
Nowwhere do we look for it?
I long for the touch of it,
I know not where it is to be found,
Which way to go, which nation,
How on earth is the journey?
Or is the journey itself the destination!
Your slave is tired now,
Can’t tread this street of deception,
Purify my being, clean me,
Change my perception,
Relieve me from grief, from hate,
Breed in me some fairness,
Save me from the pangs of fury,
Save me from indebtness,
I trust no one but you,
And beseech you to be my Guide,
My Lord, my Beloved One!
Lead me on the path
To Deliverence!

vi.
2 poems

Death from Dreams                                                                                                  
Maitreyee Chowdhury

You killed me today —

In some corner of the city
Lies a body rotten amidst the debris of life
The brains are intact and so is the heart
The dreams have been picked
Scattered and torn apart
The doctors pronounce…’Death from loss of Hope’


From the Debris of life

I pick up pieces of me strewn all over you

From the debris that is life
A heart here, a poem there
A laugh, a caresses … a kiss gone amiss
How much shall I crawl in the midst of it all —
Broken pieces of promises & dreams
And I have been picking since long …
My face and yours have been construed over time
Into cynics hopelessly at war
But then I think … just for a lark
Had it all been different..
Show me how love and life would have been —
Had we learnt to love without disintegrating …
Me and you shall perhaps soon seek better addresses …
Home without ruins
Where the Ivy has not crept in and the waters in the vase not dead …yet
We shall perhaps move on …
The children shall ask in jest someday
Over a game of scrabble …
Had we loved?
The eyes shall light up in their dimmed existence of normalcy
And shut down in the forever of lies
“ No … perhaps not”… Love does not let go!

vii.
2 poems

                                    
Aeneas                                                                                                    
Arturo Desimone

‘Kawthouar Revolutionary’
Drawing by Arturo Desimone

Pity me, I am a banished half-Jew man
who carried a switchblade across
Mountain ranges
and through Marais in Paris
(Paris who is better than deserter Aenas
but still your enemy, oh denimed Dido-woman of Tunis)

And I have cut women’s underwear
off stiff-shallow breathing, quiet torsos
I have nearly killed
without necessity,
Wasteful
unlike Carthaginean economy,
of ways foreign to the vast
joyous Necropolis
plunged, subterranean Tunis

Aeneas left Dido to scream and empty her lungs
of the last dream beside a destroyed, graffiti’d fountain
until she disappeared
leaving only
fibrillations of the seagrass blades
leaving only: a pair of sainted sandals
that all bow to and kiss despite the odor
She left also: a wreath of sunlight
when he prioritized over her
to found
a glorious shantytown
ugly cancerous upon the seven hills
what a Roman creep
what a son of a bitch
I did not tell
I did not tell
as we laughed and conspired
by the well
dried up by that police state hell
smoking
Tanith and Camel Light brand
when these finished,
smoking the flowers and fireflies between our teeth
I did not admit

to Carthaginean queens
in the nightbar full of champagne-warmed rebellion
and cold fear
(political policemen dress pink)
My last name, Desimone is Napolitan
My grandfather nonino in Argentina
was an exile,
he played saxophone wail of banishment
from home-rock
and dishonor sans return ticket
his first name: Romulo

ROMULO

In the nineties

they’d found his lungs stranded
upon Caribbean sea-purslane —
their wings full of oil
perhap she’d sought the African island of Djerba
he had drowned
in his own whiskey and his
old man shit
full of grief, maize Ursus Major

and

a smudge of cigarette tar
from a last kiss

Tunis-Marseilles Airport Transfer Gate, May 2011

Goodbye Tunis

‘Propoganda Poster’
 Drawing by Arturo Desimone 

Goodbye opal-shard-dotted
fair underarm
I onced kissed,

of Carthaginean Queens
The smell of glowing jasmine
green mouths of conspirators
smoking in Avenue Habib Bourgiba
Obsidian hair
of Arroua and Malek
greasy in palm
(greasy and black
but more like Elysium
than fairest, blondest wheat)
during a demonstration
the Palm trees parted like women
for our procession
We were no caravan of despair:

These grains of quartz
will wander the ramparts of my singing lungs
lamppost of my spine
and porticoes of my Semitic nostrils
Like rainflies marooned after mercy
dying and resurrecting again
sub Carthage moon-canoe
followed by Dido’s
Patron,Venus
the Latina name for Aphrodite
Aphrodite who Arabs once adored at Kabah, 
over Mekka
Venus, Aphrodite, the Morning star:
This is why at 4 AM
before the sun,
They still salute
“Morning of her Light,
Morning of She with Flowers and Jasmine!”
Marseilles Airport Transfer Gate, May 2011

viii.
poem

no manger, to be born                                                                                                      
Michael Anthony

I am lost
I am found,
I had no place to be born
no manger, to be born,
I was born beside a railway     track.
I was an asset for the underworld who     wanted me.
I was rescued by the child who was     born in the manger.
The child has no death
His shadows picked me up at the time     of my birth
I heard noises of the train    
For the last nine months in mother’s     womb
That were my     music.
I was fed in the womb with food that     even animals will not eat.
The child born in the manger    
Has always has a place for his child.    
He gave us a hut to live
They burnt it down,
I was thrown through     Agni (fire)
It was my baptism by     Agni (fire)
I was born to a Hindu     mother
I am still a Hindu     
For the child born in the manger    
Had no religion, caste,
For the child born in the manger    
Was the love of
Allah, God, Vishnu    
I am his child
I am 18 years old
I work in a shop.

8.11.2011

ix.
poem
                                                                                                                
India Shining?
Deborshi B.

Welcome to the saffron hell, my friend
Where killers overnight change into saints.
Where human beings are traded for growth rates
Where development is just another sham.
Where rebels are made prisoners
Where prisoners preach law on TV
Where people support animals over human beings
Where some dance to Bollywood songs while others continue to die
Where Hitlers safely hide in every “developed” cell.
Welcome to the white-capped kingdom, my friend
Where dynasties never seem to end
Where robbers don’t really need to pretend
Where every act of charity is screened
by the price-charming’s camera men.
Welcome to the holy fields of peace, my friend
Where people never cease to dance
Holier than thou, everyone screams out
Page 3 revolutionary waves transcend
While the poor and the downtrodden,
The tribals and the untouchables
silently cry.

x.
2 poems

Pardesi Jaana Nahin                                                                                                     

Fióna

movie in four scenes
setting: crowded Katra market

i.
he whips out his pocket comb
neatly coiffs his hair
in a double handed gesture
begins his song, a star
role, he’s proud of

ii.
she hears the song
catchy tune, unaware
her fate is sealed
by these singing lips
trapped between these bars

iii.
hustling bodies hooting horns
allow no private whispers
constant surveillance
curious eyes, any slowness
an invitation to conversation

iv.
later she understands
the words the tune
her part the script
she feels type cast
but cannot find a better role

Cut and Paste

I tore the child away
ripped along the dotted lines
and in my haste
I left the edges frayed
I put her on a different page
of our world atlas
not chosen at random
my place of origin
and now she’s blended
the edges evened out
like a chameleon
she’s faded into the background
shall I tear her out again
and using fevicol
attempt to paste her back
where once she belonged

xi.
2 poems

‘Twas All Wild                                                                                                                    
Akash Yadav

’twas all wild—All wind, All shores:
Seas were brewing savage storms;
Rambling clouds were moving thunder —
Thunder herself, did her chores …
With white, foaming, briny waters —
The fleet of men crossing them —
Howling Capes and crowing Bergs
That ever saw trespassing them,
Witnessed the lot being washed —
The visor of Mercy being cracked …
The howling, screaming, deathly Play
Waited the time Night approached
To aide — to rescue hacked and chopped
With farewell bid to the angered Day:
Time now when the Rivers — joining hands
(That had shrieked and showed their might)
No more chid the juvenile Bank —
Traveled course in faded light,
Whilst the strength of Fury lay
To tell Quiet of squandered Peace…

The Rebellion of ’57

“Power rules over men, not men —
When they but have misused
That Power, to abduct their souls —
For It then stands abused.”
So at such time when Anguish
With rage, had undone
The bonds that withheld the blaze
In hearts of everyone,
To overthrow the unjust rule,
There was an uprise; To win over our Liberty,
There was The Uprise…:

A feeble Nation rose to fore,
To fight the unjust Company,
And India — She rose with an uproar —
Indians rose to mutiny.
With swords and shields, hearts of gold,
A clan of Warriors rose,
Against a mighty cannon-force,
The Clan of Warriors rose.

Here, wars were waged, There battles won,
With valour-ridden thought;
Then lives were lost in the field
‘gainst the forces of distraught.
The final picture was of Death —
Of the stabbed, the beaten and bruised,
For against gun and mortar-bolt
Swords and sticks were used….

xii.
poem

Oblivion                                                                                                                            

Ashmita Mukherjee

Then, when senses fade —
To oblivion,
These yellow-white pollen dusts
Will still infest and bring tears;
Or, on a May noon if you return
Will still seek rest and be lulled
By rice mashed with poppy seeds …
For some things remain by themselves
Like themselves,
Some patterns retain
Their meaning on mosaic
Long after your senses fade —
To oblivion.

xiii.
2 poems

The I, I know best                                                                                                             

Chitralekha Chetia
(Written in the voice of the artist, Frida Kahlo, whose work and life inspires me greatly)

Paint me a riot,
From the echoes of gunfire in your backyard
From the meals of famished revolutionaries
Paint me a crippled poem —
Unfinished, not unattempted
Perched on the scaffolding of life’s rattling design
Paint me pain and passion
Intertwined with the memory of loss
Having gained which
The feminine expressions take flight —
Like shape shifters out of night’s womb,
Like a cello’s digression from rhythm
Or the incinerating heat in unfed bellies
Trap me not
In the mould of feminism
Befitting the theory of the weak
For they breathe borrowed air
And take pleasure in pain
Nail me down on a canvas, if you must,
Brightened by the blood of your wanting
I will arrange the bits of my wasting body
Alongside foetuses, factories and burning flags —
An offering on a floating bed.

The Divorce

The light shifted sides
Something itched at the bottom
Of the deep, resounding voice
Against which mine always bounced
At the kitchen table
The stainless steel spoon
Stirring a half empty cup
The morning, an awakening
Upon the leftovers of the previous night —
Our trying to be all we could
By stirring our lives, our conversations
Over furious coffee
Like an item song’s desperate last attempt
To save a hopeless story from drowning
I waited for shock to take over the spoken words —
The cannon ball’s spitting out red dots
Fell in clumps, gathering hurriedly at my feet
Forcing a certain colour blindness,
A certain deafness that seemed appropriate.
I waited for the item song to spring to my rescue
From behind the fidgety toe nails,
From behind some place perhaps I will now know exists.
But there was only so much to clean after it got over —
Crying children, the half excuses, guilt
Daily meaningless chores, rituals
The whole act of living
Morning was so evident, its light slowly decomposing everything.

xiv.
2 poems

Kalpattu Stoneville
Bhavani Krishnamurthy

My forefathers’ home

Fine and Mild

On a winter morn
Grey‐blue hint of chill
Wet earth and wood smoke
Tang of bullock dung
And they -‐ up at crack of dawn
To toil for the broken tough.
Ignore their iron cladding
Hark!
For the ducks are coming
A flock waddling,
Up our street, toward the pond
Quick!
Feast your eyes on this lively sight
Before they vanish into the dust
Quack.
‐‐ck.
Gone, and the day not done.





Strife

 

This morning red ants
Swarmed in my silver cup
Of rice flakes and jaggery.
My offerings to the Lord
Not eaten last night
Or put away in the fridge.
Three rusty mustard grains
Lightly touching
Balanced on six fine hairs
Intuited feelers
Moving in a Maglev train
Is one Red ant.
I want them off.
Disturbed they break ranks
Are everywhere
And more appear
A red angry seething
Or a panicked scrambling
Over my sacred fare.
Which I leave under the sun
For the distant fire to scare
And return to find them
Gone but still there
Behind sweet sweating rocks
Under shades of white lace
I tap the cup twice and the
Earthquake stirs them out
Scurrying over scalding silver
For the haven of dry hand
Clutching for clemency
In this roiling, boiling land
I hold the cup under a tap
Tilt away from the flow
And they wash into the drain
Swimming their way
Into… oblivion.

I only wanted a cooling off.

xv.
poem
Buridan’s Ass                                                                                                                   
Dr. Krishna Chakravorty

An ass is placed in the middle of a stack of hay and a pail of water,
It is both thirsty for water and hungry for food anywhere it finds,
It can not go to the closer one, as it needs both to survive,
It will die of both hunger and thirst if it does not choose one over the other.
Human life is full of dilemmas, trilemmas, multilemmas and choices,
Before a decision, we must assess the possible outcomes of our choices,
Save for any ignorance, impediments, social rules and regulations,
Humans must always choose the alternative leading to the greater good.
By pondering only the ass will starve to death, no matter what path it takes,
It must take some action, considering pros and cons, to save its life,
A discrete decision with an input of continuous range of values and points,
Can not be made with a bounded length of time, but needs unbounded time.
We are we including our surrounding world of trees, ecology and living things,
If we do not preserve the later, we may not and will not preserve ourselves,
Unless we feel strongly enough to protect Nature with everything it has,
We will be a dumb ass and suffer the inevitable fate of the Buridan’s Ass!!

xvi.

poem

Across I Go
                                                                                                                     

Ankush Saxena

Across I go, Across broken plains
Across many aches, across hidden pains
Through mountains of misery
Through contorted faces of false bravery
Rushing towards Faraway Lands
Rushing forwards, with outstretched hands
As a blind man, seeking an illusory light
As a scared man, trying to escape the fright
Across I go, across frigid wastes
Across desolation, across Hell’s gates
Through valleys of smouldering snow
Through dead woods, which were once known to grow
Rushing towards Roaring Falls
Rushing over weeping walls, through wailing halls
As a dumb man, crying out in a drunken swoon
As a deaf man, harkening to an impending doom
Across I go, Across a bridge over a moaning chasm
Across a broken heart, across an involuntary spasm
Through shadowy, turbid, torpid fen
Through all this I go, my internal devastation, I ken

05.08.2011

xvii.
2 poems

The Main Characters                                                                                                  

(In a Revolution)
Geeta Chhabra

A mother beats her hands
against her breasts.
The father bows his head
to memorize the age of the corpse.
The one-eyed gaze of their daughter
Screens the death-scene.
He was a warrior fighting oppression.
He was a son. He was her brother.
A few paces forward,
A small crowd’s voices
Gather a nervous intensity.
Shrill cries arise.
Human columns are on the move,
Chanting, “Come on! Come on!
Mount up your guns.
The corrupt will be seen fleeing.”
Civilians have turned into soldiers.
They shout, “Let’s not pause anymore
Under the cover of cowardice.
Freedom! Freedom! Awaits!”
The one-eyed gaze of the girl
Is watching over the horrified state
Of the corpse.
Her brother was young as seventeen.
20 September 2011

Playing Dangerous Games…

The weird.
The wonderful.
The gloom.
The grandeur.
The tussle between:
The contrasts.
Night versus Day.
Predator versus Prey …
All glories, dark uncertainties,
With measured steps,
And matching strength –
Will have passed away.
A vulnerable hour
Sets up all of us.
There is our allotted time –
Ensnaring us …
To become a fistful
Of ashen dust,
Inside our yearning graves.
The real world has acquired
Over the ages: too much,
For us to grasp.
Alas! Life is too short to play little.
We rarely wake up to face.

xviii.
3 poems 

The Chain of Being                                                                                                
Kanwar Dinesh Singh

I am a leaf
Of the grand family-tree
I wither and fall and fade away
But the tree lives on . . .
I am a part
Of the huge foliage
I part with my axil
Yet a new leaf is borne
Occupying my axil
And the foliage lives on . . .
I am a link
In the long chain
I know not the origin
I know not the end
The succession I merge in
In catenation I blend
But the chain lives on . . .


Myopia

The monsoon mackerel sky,

Humectated hills and fells,
The sun winking at earth,
The mist-ridden Shimla
Runs into haze.
I standing lonesome
At a corner of the town
Watch the fresh,
Fresh cumuli of fog
Arising from deep
Crevices in the dells,
Misting the suburbs,
Everything,
What’s left is I,
In my singleness,
I, the sole thing extant,
As an entity in
The evanescent town.

Like a Candle

I burn and burn

To leave
No ash
But only wax
To be burnt again.

xix.
3 poems

The Final Serving                                                                                                
Biswarup Mukherjee

The last cup of coffee precariously hangs from an unsettled mist,
along with a few nicotinic remains, poised on a bed of charred matchsticks.
Half-chewed bones clatter over spotless white porcelain, while others
almost home, snuggled between molars are persistently poked
by a cold searching tongue. Some give way, some stay for life.
Scattered crumbs of bread are lapped up with moist napkins.
A penny or two left behind are fought over with dispassionate fervor.
An insatiable soul, rests in peace, dreaming of yet another serving,
while chairs get filled and coffee cups emptied by disgruntled others.


A glimpse of gloom

We still secretly hold hands,

like entwined roots underneath
thousand miles of detached earth.
Dreams run down our eyes,
seeking solace under well-dressed pillows,
soggy with love-laden talk.
I watched as the clouds that once
filled our pillow, effortlessly broke off
into two, leaving only darkness within.
But in rain, our roots embraced
lest the loose loam crumbled.
It never did and we never fell.
Only glanced at each other,
through the darkness that concealed all.
All but us, not you, not me.

The Sun-Soaked Sofa

1.

It had been one long winter train ride.
The sun-soaked side of the sofa,
the side I preferred, waited for me
with hesitant anticipation, like a newly wed bride.
It had waited for me in the same place,
just as warm, for as long as I can remember.
As I let my cold body sink into her warm embrace,
there he was, with his nebulaic green eyes,
separated from his kans grass tail by a patch of darkness.
He had nimbly pardoned my absence,
after all, I had returned to serve his thinned milk.
I stretched to grab him and cuddle him perhaps,
but he knew my arm’s length all too well,
for I could feel only his moist nose on my fingertips,
an essence of his being. No more, no less.
He glanced occasionally towards the kitchen door,
indicating where my redemption lay.
With the slightest twitching of my muscle,
he would spring towards it, returning,
every time, with exalted expectation.
And when I would finally let him in, his dark felt would
spread onto his eyes, under the dim kitchen light.
His tongue, rough yet loving, like a mother’s hand,
cleaned that old milk saucer, the one I had summarily rejected.
A few drops on his beard, he would surely miss,
walk out, without the slightest appreciation,
and then encroach the sun-soaked side of the sofa,
exhibiting his white underbelly in a show of contortion.
Once fast asleep, in his fishy dreams,
I would reoccupy my cozy nook.

2.

I waited for the sun to hit the side I preferred,
I waited all day, I waited all winter. It never did.
I sank into the cold embrace of the sofa,
thinking of the bright little sun, that would curl up
on the ‘sun-soaked side of the sofa’, everyday.
Warming it up for the cold man who served him thinned milk,
without the slightest expectation, save my safe return.
I still wait for him, with a saucer of warm milk
and his sun-soaked side of the sofa.

xx.
photographs

Images from Occupy Wall Street – NYC
Sajan Anthony










xi.
book reviews

Butterfly, A Novel by Julie O’Yang
Reviewed by Martin Lochner

Butterfly is a paradox.

The novel is powerfully rooted in the ancient Chinese spirit of tranquillity. At the same time, it is a book that can pierce the modern heart with its strong concretization of love and forgiveness.This work breathes — or should I say — “flutter” a theme of universality, urgency and will appeal to contemporary sensibilities.


Julie O’Yang is a novelist and visual artist based in The Netherlands. Born and brought up in China, she came to Europe in 1990s to study at the University of London. Then she read Japanese Language and Culture at the University of Leiden, Holland, and Tokyo/Nagasaki, Japan. Her ficiton, short fiction, poetry and articles have appeared in magazines and newspapers worldwide. O’Yang is known for her unique literary voice both daring and challengingly contemporary. She is a forerunner in media reforms and 21th century digital publishing.

To order visit www.julieoyang.com

xxii.
A poetic flight of mysticism
Vinita Agarwal

Dances with the Cranes –– a book of poems written by Maj. Gen. G.D. Bakshi SM, VSM
(Retd) is themed around reincarnation. All 66 poems in the book revolve around the mystical,
magical personal experiences that Maj. Gen Bakshi has had relating to the transmigration of
the soul. He shares these experiences in the prologue of the book. His unabashed confessions

of self-discovery in a remote area of North Sikkim where the acrid smell of burning Rhododendron leaves wafting from a copper urn nailed the vague yearnings he had had all his life for the Himalayan Mountains. It was later pronounced by the Ying Ma Pa sect Head Lama Thin Ley Dorjey that the army man was a reincarnation of a Tibetan Lama from many lives ago. The announcement not only brought a deep feeling of homecoming in Maj. Gen. Bakshi’s mind but also gave birth to his book of poems. The book’s title has an apt reference to cranes because in the Himalayan nation of Bhutan, migratory black-necked cranes – the Grus Nigricolis — are believed to be the best motif of rebirth. The metaphor of transmigration

springs from the migratory flight of these birds year after year.

“… Black wings appear
They come year
after year
to our valley
in the Hermit Kingdom
even as they come
from life to life
in our dreams.”
The book starts with this poem called Dragon Kingdom. Through this and a host of other
poems, the poet’s words demonstrate a magnitude of insights on the cosmic cycle. The poetry
is as fascinating as the subject they delve into. Rich images of all things natural – birds,
mountains, rivers, hues of precious gemstones and myriad foods are embroiled in the stanzas
in a way that leave one slightly breathless. This retired army man’s poems make the reader
yearn to grope into the mysteries of where they belong, who they really are…
Lines such as
“do all birds sing but once to the full moon or is it the tune that waxes and wanes there, then
and here again and again”

And
“Meals made of moon dust and the pale ambience of many moonbeams”

lend a other-worldly charm and texture to the verses in the book. They ensnare and transport
the reader into another dimension of time. This ethereal quality of Maj. Gen. Bakshi’s poems
sets him apart from the genre of the flat, trifle unemotional writing that is the hallmark of
contemporary modern poetry.
Coming from the pen of a man whose hands have hitherto wielded only guns and cannons,
(Maj Gen. Bakshi has seen many years of combat and has had many near brushes with death),
Dances with the Cranes is an incredibly imaginative and creative body of work. It brings to
the fore the sheer sensitivity, artistry and spirituality of a man who many would not have
believed was capable of such delicate thoughts because he belonged to a rough and tough
cadre.

The language used is simple but imaginative – “Prayers rise like foam to the heavens” to
quote just one line. The poet makes a trademark use of the proverbial benefits of brevity.
Most of the poems are under 10 lines and carry an average of three words in a line – such a
short form of poetry is an added impetus to read the book cover to cover for the readers.
As Krishna Srinivas, President World Poetry Society and Editor ‘Poet’ Magazine says in the
FOREWORD to the book “all those vexed with the mysterious march of events in every day
ness, craving for liberation from moral colican get solace in the poet’s poems.”

The pensiveness of human life is reflected in the following verse contained in the book
“Birds migrate
The self migrates
It flies from life to life
Sparks migrate from fire to fire.”
While the subject of reincarnation is understandably a matter of one’s belief, the power of
these poems to stir the human mind is unquestionable. The poems per se may not lead us to
salvation but they do permit us to link hands with someone who set out to meet his destiny
and did not return empty-handed. The book brings home the age-old tenet of our soul being
permanent even though its outer form may keep changing.

It would be fitting to quote the last few lines of one of his poems titled
Two Golden Oreoles
“… One bird was free
from the cycle of births
The other returned
again and again
to the Tree.”

Dances with the Cranes
Maj. Gen. G.D. Bakshi SM, VSM (Retd)
Published by Pilgrims Publishing, Varanasi
Price Rs. 245/-
ISBN 978-81-7769-943-2

xiii.
books

Floating Down the Stream: A Collection 0f Translated Rabindrasangeet
Pratik Ghosh


‘A collection of over 100 translated lyrics of Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Laureate poet of India. Commonly known as Rabindra Sangeet, the songs remain an integral part of Bengali culture across the world. ‘

 



 

Prey By The Ganges
Hemant Kumar

“A cold, rainy night in a forest across the Ganges, deep in the heart of eastern India.
An unarmed man with anger in his heart and a fortune on his person.
A handsome Thakur with evil on his mind and blood on his hands.
Both chasing a rare diamond, but for completely different reasons.
As the chase draws to a nerve-wracking climax, the night, too, is ticking down to a bloody end.
There are the others too—the Thakur’s beautiful wife, the sleazy psychopath, the angry muscleman, the corrupt dairy manager’s stunning daughter and the aging ranch hand with angry welts across his body and soul.
Each is a pawn in this bizarre game of life and death, and each with a story to tell. Or hide.
Will there be a sunrise for Shambhu? Or will he die like his friend, whose brutal murder triggered his perilous journey?
Find out . . .” – Blurb

Growing up in Bihar through the troubled sixties and seventies, Hemant has witnessed turmoil from such close quarters, that he says he has looked into the bowels of the monster called violence. But in the same turmoil, he says he has come across character of extraordinary solidity – in men and women of ordinary means. Hemant says Prey By The Ganges has cooked in his mind for as long as he can remember.

The Fallen Years
by Paul Rogov

A novella about a veteran of the Soviet-Afghan war and the fall of the Soviet Union.


Paul Rogov is a novelist, poet, and short story writer, originally from Minsk, Belarus. He immigrated to the United States in 1979. He currently lives in Southern California, where he completed two novels, Flowers for Messiahs and Moon in Pisces, as well as a collection of short stories. http://paulrogov.wordpress.com/

contributors

Yumlan Tala (b 15.8.1976) is General Council member of Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi and Programe Committee Member of North East Zone Cultural center, Dimapur. His work will appear in Anthology of Poetry from North-East (NEHU) edited by Robin S Ngangom and K.S.Nongkinrih.
Twenty five year old Delhi-based lawyer Paramjeet Singh Berwal is a poet, photographer, and short story writer. His work has been published previously in the Brown Critique.
Roland G. Rasmussen is based in British Columbia, Canada. Smitha Sehgal is a professional with Engineers India Limited, a leading Government of India Undertaking. She devotes her personal space to creativity — poetry, fiction and painting. Writing from the age of seven, her previous publications include Mathrubhumi Weekly (1988) and Indian Express (1995-2000). After joining professional mainstream,  her writing took a backseat, till it was revived with conscious efforts. Recent publications include Kritya and Reading Hour (Sept-Oct 201; Nov-Dec2011).
Mradul Sharma was born and brought up in Gwalior and currently lives in Noida. She is an Engineer and had her professional education (B-Tech) in Varanasi (BHU). She has been writing poetry for some years and has an interest in literature. She has written a few articles and book reviews too. She likes to travel and has travelled a lot across India.
Aftab Yusuf Shaikh has been writing poetry since the young age of eight and has since then authored more than hundred poems. His works have been featured in a variety of publications including Muse India, The Istanbul Literary Review, The Barefoot Review, etc. He is currently pursuing his Bachelors in English Literature and Psychology from the University of Mumbai.
Maitreyee Chowdhury is a web-based columnist and poet. She has published a bilingual book of poems called Iche holo tai (In Bengali & English) and is also in the process of publishing a book on
Bengali regional films. Her work can be read at –

http://jumble-rumble-thoughts.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2011-08-05T04%3A26%3A00-07%3A00&max-results=7
Arturo Desimone was born and raised in Aruba (Dutch Caribbean) but is ofArgentinean origins and has led a nomadic existence. He left high school at the age of 15 to work but took online courses in writing and world mythology with The New School University of New York. He now lives incAmsterdam, the Netherlands. He won a prize this year from the El Hizjra literary contest for immigrants writing in the Netherlands—his submission of a theater-play was the first English-language winner. At the moment  he is working on projects inspired by his travels through Poland and Tunisia in 2011.
Michael Anthony works and lives in the UK and runs “Tracks”, an NGO for street children in Kolkata.
Deborshi B. lives in Delhi and works at National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. Turn to TBC‘s “Topics” page to listen to his composition “It’s All Beautiful.”
Fióna was born in Ireland. She has lived in India also. She is currently between Chennai and Dublin. She’s studying for a masters in creative writing from Lancaster University, online – Distance Learning Masters they call it.
Akash Yadav is a student from Lucknow(Uttar Pradesh) pursuing a college degree and looking forward to a
carrier in the field of Arts and Literature. He started writing poetry in 2009, and has written about a
hundred poems so far, and several unpublished essays. Besides poetry, he is also interested in sketching, acting and music too. ‘Twas All Wild’ won third place in the ”POETRYSOUP International Poetry

Contest April, 2011” hosted by the site http://www.poetrysoup.com/.
Ashmita Mukherjee is student of English literature at Presidency University, Kolkata, India.
Chitralekha Chetia is an advertising professional. She lives and works in Mumbai. She has been writing for a while now. Pieces from here and there – encapsulating a little bit of her experiences and feelings.

Singapore-based Bhavani Krishnamurthy is a banker by profession, a homemaker by occupation and a reader by inclination.
Dr. Krishna Chakravorty has a Ph.D, M.S., M.S., M.S. from Syracuse, SUNY, Temple, CU. He is on the
faculty of Univ. of Illinois at Chicago, Ohio State Univ., Temple Univ. He has also served in the
US Air Force, Dept. of Defense, EPA, etc. His hobbies include Philosophy, Science, Poetry, and Nature.
Ankush Saxena is a 21-year-old IT engineer, currently working in Gurgaon. He has been writing poetry since he was 13. He enjoys reading, singing, writing, playing the synthesizer, trekking, swimming and gizmos.

Geeta Chhabra was fortunate to have received the guidance of the late bard Nissim Ezekiel in the 1990s. Presently, her English poems have been translated by the foremost Emirati Poet/Translator – Dr. Shihab Ghanem.  Her poems have been published in reputed Arabic literary journals from time to time. She has also completed with satisfaction the twelve monthly issues of www.geetachhabra.com
Kanwar Dinesh Singh is assistant professor of English and editor of Hyphen 
Biswarup Mukherjee is an engineer by profession and lives in Chennai.
Sajan Anthony is a Technology Manager for a policy intelligence research firm Medley Global Advisors in New York. Born and raised in Calcutta. Listening to good music and watching good cinema are his passions. He is “always intrigued by people’s reactions to situations and events.” Sajan enjoys hanging with his wife and 2 kids.
Martin Lochner is poet, artist, social activist from South Africa. 
Vinita Agarwal — Born in Bikaner on August 18th 1965, educated in Kolkata and Baroda, Vinita has an M.A. in political science. She has been researching and writing freelance for over 20 years. A poet at heart she says there are times she has more ink in her veins than blood. She has been published in several magazines, journals, newspapers and Web sites. She participated at the SAARC Literature Festival 2010 and has also taken part in various other spoken word events. She lives in Delh, India.

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