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Posts from the ‘Poetry’ Category

An Evening in Hazrat Nizamuddin

Karuna Chandrashekar

for Sabah,

the light held within
the palm of each day.

Over the dargah,
the sky is like a soft animal
readying for sleep.

A marigold rolls
on marble
like a hundred girls crossing their arms
over the closing eye of the sun.

Behind the lattice,
one girl dances with both
a boy

and a jinn,
the light wonders
which one
will she run away with?

In a dark corner,
another somersaults,
with a demon on her back:

girlhood is such a rough rind
we bite down
so we can sing through our teeth,

sounding the light
for the Spirit to arrive.

When the marble
softly glows–a living color,

like
the devotion of birds
falling from the sky,
heeding the call of qawwali,

we will gather enough twilight
in our eyes,
like a chemise in the fists
of orphans
in their long search for home

Karuna Chandrashekar is a psychodynamic therapist and grad student currently living in Toronto, Canada. Her work has been featured in journals such as La.Lit, AnomalyLit, Sea Foam Mag, The Sunflower Collective, and more.

Walking on Marine Drive at Midnight

Sneha Subramanian Kanta

Harshal Desai, 2016.

for H

The sea cuts its mouth open
and gurgles a lullaby for the

sleepless. The cities we love
grow in different dialects and

forget old dreams. Briefly,
the sky appears unreal in its

tincture of fermented molasses
on its surface. In the midnight

air, our bodies are lighter. The
sky imagines itself into becoming.

We smell bread from the midnight
bakery and I compare it to the risen

tide. You underline the city line on
air and peer through dark to trace the

deciduous layers of sky, earth, and sea.
You point toward the lengthening

space between three silences. We see
the sea gasp for ether in a cusp of

unbridled yearning. The moon makes
it possible. We are a silhouette of

shadows braided into a mosaic of oneness.
There is no language for the sudden

blooming of buds into flowers on the
street-walk, or how their color reminds

me of a sound that reverberates like the
Arabian sea, like birds released into the sky.

Sneha Subramanian Kanta is a recipient of the Charles Wallace fellowship 2019 at the University of Stirling, Scotland. She is a GREAT scholarship awardee and has earned a second postgraduate degree in literature from England. She is the founding editor of Parentheses Journal and a poetry reader for Palette Poetry.

Lucky

Dheepa R. Maturi

image courtesy of Brian McMahon

If you’re lucky,
sooner rather than later,
you’ll begin to break.
You won’t realize it immediately,
but you’ll notice your fingers
leave a trail of soil as they
skim your kitchen counter,
and the soles of your feet
shed crystalline dust as you
walk barefoot over the foyer tiles,
which don’t seem worth the energy
of switching out at this point.

If you’re lucky,
you’ll do more than slough —
you will crack and split,
up one arm and down the other,
up one leg and, well, you get the idea —
another month, another fissure.
Your hips will begin to powder,
then your torso and chest and neck.
When the crumbling reaches your face,
you’ll have to keep calm,
because even your tongue
will fracture into fault lines.
You might wonder how you
ever loved licorice,
or chewed on ice,
or said that thing
to your mother.

Be very still when it
reaches your eyes because
messages may rise from the
tender gelatin.
You might wonder how you
missed that the willow outside died
and that the children flew away
before they even left.

Deep breaths now,
because next, it will happen
inside your body,
and even less predictably.
Your left ventricle
might vibrate and splinter first,
and then, maybe,
your esophageal sphincters
and your sigmoid colon.
Your torturers will ooze
out of the past and
turn to vapor around you —
you might wonder how
they ever crushed you.

Eventually, you’ll disintegrate
into a pile of cells.
You’ll sit and watch them
spilled all around you,
gather them in your hands,
let them fall through your
fingers as you remember
everything and ask
Why?

If you’re lucky,
you have the answer.
(This dissolution will be the answer.)
If you’re lucky, your cells
will drink again and know
how to reassemble.
You won’t
go back together
the same way.

Dheepa R. Maturi is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago. Her poetry has appeared (or is forthcoming) in The Fourth River, Every Day Poems, The Offbeat, Defenestration, Here Comes Everyone, Flying Island, Branches, Hoosier Lit, Wild Musette, The Indianapolis Review, and elsewhere. She lives with her family in Indianapolis. Find more of her writing at her website.

ode to mehendi

Uma Menon

my sister etches a secret into my hand with the tip
of an arrow dulled by years of heartache so it

presses gently to a point at the furrow of my hand
here at the corner of my palm anger bows down

to the burning red of mehendi seeping from her
forehead in the patience of years forming

a fox-feather in the web between my knuckles
she holds my hand close to her face telling her

heart-child something that she cannot tell me
i keep my hand pressed against foiled lace so not

to wrinkle a design so not to ball up in remission
at my mother’s feet with nothing but a child’s

dream in hand what if i wasn’t an only daughter
firstborn lastborn tracing mehendi into

my own hand late dark nights over the silent
reading of an english newspaper now this

curdled buttermilk leaking through my fingers
grazes my hand so differently from the cone

in my sister’s hand that i wonder if an arrow
has wicked and left my mind

Uma Menon is a fifteen-year-old student and writer from Winter Park, FL. Her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, Ms. Magazine, and IRIS, among others. Her first chapbook was published with Zoetic Press in January 2019 and she was recently named National Winner of National Poetry Quarterly’s High School Poetry Contest. Uma is also a nationally-ranked debater and an activist for marginalized groups.

Poetry – Spring 2019

An Evening in Hazrat Nizamuddin

A marigold rolls
on marble
like a hundred girls crossing their arms
over the closing eye of the sun.

Walking on Marine Drive at Midnight

The sea cuts its mouth open
and gurgles a lullaby for the
sleepless. The cities we love
grow in different dialects and

forget old dreams.

Lucky

When the crumbling reaches your face,
you’ll have to keep calm,
because even your tongue
will fracture into fault lines.

ode to mehendi

i keep my hand pressed against foiled lace so not

to wrinkle a design so not to ball up in remission
at my mother’s feet with nothing but a child’s

dream in hand what if i wasn’t an only daughter

Blue

by Ankush Banerjee

(For S)
Why does it have to be the airport –
a space clotted with
business suits, attendants waiting with placards,
the peculiar sadness of empty luggage trolleys
–where we gather loneliness from each other’s
bodies like discarded secrets?
It is the urgency, I suppose – everyone having
‘somewhere to go’ and only so much time –
check-in, security, boarding punctuates each line

To meet you and feel cut open
like fruit, like a suitcase that bursts open while you
collect your boarding pass – shatters narrative,
slicing its progress of check-ins, security
boarding with a knife as sharp as tongue
we return to the line with bag and baggage
we do so after she tells me why she can’t
afford another heart break, her hand on my chest,
slowly absorbing the quickening of the beats
like sand feeds on water,
I should have confessed –
for you, I’d risk one

We embrace in short, hurried bursts, like lightning,
like machine-gun fire,
the smell of her shampoo causing tremors in my skull,
her forehead a playfield for mad lips.
Long after her aircraft is 30,000 feet in the air
I remember
she was wearing blue shoes –
the color of possibility,
the color of the sky.


unnamedAnkush Banerjee is a mental health professional and Ethics & Organisational Behaviour instructor. He published his first collection of poetry, An Essence of Eternity (Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 2016). His poetry has appeared in Indian Literature, Muse India, Eclectica, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, and elsewhere. He blogs at cogitoerigosum.wordpress.com.

[Image Credit: Devika Lal]

Ant-eating

by Jugni Jahaz

I am trying to explain to you I am more
interesting in my language, but the truth is
hindi is a warzone with thunder and blunt
edges, and my feet slipping always. This
is old: in every postcolonial textbook, genre
of love. Tired: to see myself see you see
me see us lying in bed, strung unstuck
on orb web, eight taut eyes witnessing.

What is new: when floundering I say
we
us       india
and then strain to kaleidoscope
the gag, unmean from this corner when
I only want to translate for you the small
things, like battery and stench of rain
after the marriage of frogs. This is our
romance laced with unancient violence,
honey from saffron-gold lotus. It sticks

and fire ants invade the room. Let’s eat them,
you say. And we do, until anthills hot blister
from recesses unknown, and what crumbles
is my resolve against being ardent and
banal. So hold my body, this frame,
tongues, daft and plural in all the usual ways.
So behold the cavity, these caveats, territory of
laughter, in peals even when uncomprehending.


Jugni Jahaz writes poetry in order to pay attention to the world. They can be found most commonly procrastinating at a library, going for long walks, or befriending dogs in their neighborhood

Poetry

Blue

To meet you and feel cut open
like fruit, like a suitcase that bursts open while you
collect your boarding pass

Ant-eating

the truth is
hindi is a warzone with thunder and blunt
edges, and my feet slipping always

At the Dancing Square—Chowk

Let me be.  She licks her scream like a morsel it
hovers in the brazen sky.  My sun is caught in the rain.
Staggering halfway to the square she fixes her laughter.
Somewhere far away from the sloppy moonlight
there is a hope, red and blue.

Not all men are tone deaf unable to hear the call
of hunger.   Body, bosom, bare hips, needless to say
bare feet.  She cannot afford the luxury of sleep.
Her hair smells of jasmine and hands glisten with
Jaipuri bangles.  Kohl-rimmed eyes ready to sting.

Worn out with waiting the city lacerates one and all.
The city has spared none.  The city will spare no one.
The street is her illustrious companion.

Often it rings with the flavor of seviyan and paan
Even the ghungroo relishes the touch of korma.

Tabla and sitar once had a taste of lucknowi tehzeeb.
Tracing her steps, up and down, subversive innuendoes,
voices reeking with lust and country made liquor, gaping
indifference of the hushed minarets.  Often she is baffled
by the distant call of Amma: “Get up and be ready for Ajaan.

A whiff of wisdom sits on her head. She opens her empty
fist and catches the fading star, like long lost siblings they
laugh at each other and promise to meet again. If not tonight,
she knows she will find a lover and watch him snap
her dreams with eager lips and unsteady fingers.


Glossary

Seviyan
Pudding made of sugar, semolina and nuts
Paan
Betel leaf
Ghungroo
Ankle bells
Korma
Meat dish
Lucknowi Tehzeeb
City of Lucknow with its distinct culture and tradition
Ajaan
Prayers

Ranu UniyalRanu Uniyal has written two books of poetry: Across the Divide (2006) and December Poems (2012). Her work has appeared in Mascara Literary Review, Medulla Review, Muse India, Kavya Bharati, Femina, and several other journals. She is Professor of English at Lucknow University with a doctorate from Hull University, UK.