by Ankush Banerjee
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
she was wearing blue shoes –
the color of possibility,
the color of the sky.
Ankush 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]
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
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
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.
- Pudding made of sugar, semolina and nuts
- Betel leaf
- Ankle bells
- Meat dish
- Lucknowi Tehzeeb
- City of Lucknow with its distinct culture and tradition
Ranu 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.