Poetry | ‘1959’ & ‘Limerence’ | By Carl Scharwath

Carl Scharwath’s thesis on duality is piqued in well-crafted miniscule phrases that bear testimony to imagery. 

1959

Two children plaster forms

A decorum of the 1950’s

Embellishment, quietly grace

The family road trip.

Baseball cards on the floor

Gum under the seat

A façade of happiness 

As billboards swoop by.

Telephone wires, a dizzying array of surrealistic lines crossing the clouds and pointing the way. Last-chance gas stations, diners with dead-end jobs, the radio static filled with a revival preacher, admonishing the listeners to repent. Everything turns to Utopia.

 

Mom in the front seat

Dreams of a new washing machine

Perhaps a new house coat

And a husband who would love her again.

Father, eyes straightforward

Thinks of the next two martini-lunch and

An evening rendezvous with his young secretary

In a secret hotel close to home.

Like a thick novel with empty pages-four lives down the highway in a metal casket with tail fins. Route 66 attractions beckon for attention and a sparked conversation. This nuclear family just one of the forgotten many in the proto-industrialization of a historical timeline-a contaminated generation.


Limerence

You are alone

I am ashamed

We walk among the lavender, wilting in the heat of our passion. Wisteria releases tears of dew drops on a lover’s pillow encased in short-lived memories. Tattered vulnerabilities, crushed velvet revelations filter through the flower field. This is the territory of asbestos laced pollen. The martyred pathway sinful and filled with misty lies under the shadows while the world is changing. 

The end of the beginning

Is the beginning of the end

Carl Scharwath’s poetry, short stories, interviews, essays, plays and art photography have appeared in 150+ journals. His photography was featured on the cover of six journals. His poetry books are – ‘Journey To Become Forgotten’ (Kind of a Hurricane Press) and ‘Abandoned’ (ScarsTv). His first photography book was recently published by Praxis. He is the art editor for Minute Magazine, Poetry Editor for TL Publishing Group, and a competitive runner and 2nd degree blackbelt in Taekwondo.

Advertisements

Poetry | ‘Chennai in Frames’ & ‘Sestina’ | By Saranya Subramanian

Saranya Subramanian’s poems have gasps-and-wonder-in-punctuations taken from places like Bombay and Chennai or grown from the life of Perumal Murugan and his interiority. Such variety!

Chennai in Frames

Thatha’s Ambassador croaking at us
Heavy air carrying sweat and grime
Sandalwood’s scent peeling off walls
Winter trips to Madurai by bus
Heat washed away by Marina’s sweet lime
Beach memories packed in volleyballs 

A backyard of our sleeping cricket bats
Red earth keeping warm Tulsi’s feet
Dinner on the terrace dipped in starlight
The grumbling generator housing rats
Tamil Soaps forming our home’s heartbeat
Downstairs toilet burping through the night

Comic books replaced with medicines
Laughter: once family, now visitor
Walking sticks: the new pillars of the house
Cancer taking his body, not his grin
Solemn-looking, weepy mourners
Patti’s tears filling wells, saving droughts

Dirt standing where home once was, once divine,
me standing in Chennai, but seemingly stuck in the wrong paradigm.


Sestina
For Peumal Murugan

He licked his thoughts along
the envelope seal, shut it tightly
and posted it to no one. Inside it
were ideas we’d never see—sharp
pebbles that cause multiple ripples
over still waters. 

It is sinful, they said, water
must reflect a frozen image along
its banks; it must be calm, devoid of ripples,
to show calmness in return. His tightly-
clutched pen was snatched. Their sharp
swords granted him a life without it

and left him with a blank page. But it
was deceptive, like how the surface of water
bodies hide fields of algae below. The page’s sharp
border fell into a coastal shelf. Peppered along
its bottom were baby wordlings, tightly
packed and jostling against one another. Ripples

were birthed from this chaos; every ripple
sprung from a crowning word as it
locked arms with other words tightly,
peeking up from underwater.
There was no stopping them. Crawling along
the coast, they appeared as sharply

dressed sonnets and sestinas, sharp
enough to slice through sand. Ripples
met with a lyric here, marching along
to the beat of rebellion, a ghazal there, in all its
glory, glorifying the gods of fire and water
written out of law. Tightly

bound, they were the Songs Of A Coward, tightly
tied together in cowardice. Their sharp
melodies caused creases on still waters,
as they united to form one fearless ripple
that grew into a tidal wave. It
ran towards the shore, tiptoed along

its path and crawled along the prison walls that tightly
shut the writer within it. Each song’s sharp teeth
gnawed off his chains. A ripple trembled into roaring waters.

Perumal Murugan was to be read again.

Saranya Subramanian is a 22-year-old literature aficionado, based in Bombay. She spends her time singing to herself and watching Madhubala videos (sigh!). And she writes because, well, it’s all that she can really do. 

Advertisements

Poetry | ‘English in me’ & ‘Travelling with Papa’ | By Ranu Uniyal

Ranu Uniyal has the adorability that comes from a shifting relationship to English. For no matter how much we love it, we can’t live with it when we know beauty and depth may lie in other languages. ‘Fuck in English/Fuck it now.’

English in me 

English is as big as a mustard seed 

in my conscience.  

I have made a living 

all these years

read and chewed 

and sometimes failed to digest 

its embryonic juices.  

Constantly I am being told 

you know nothing.  

Here is a poseuse  

without pauses 

or commas

jutting off hyphens 

and siphoning 

all the prepositions 

with umm’s and ho’s.  

My desi friends 

make fun of 

my Sanskrit seeped in 

accented English.   

They say nimboo pani 

as an ideal drink 

loses thrill unless 

sugar and salt are 

adequately mixed.  

And my English friends 

with stoic disdain

forgive my sins 

for they know 

she knows not.   

Heavenly Father 

has always had 

the final laugh.   

English is the language 

I make love in.  

English is the language 

I have used for my living.  

English is the language 

I travel in mind, body, and soul.  

English is all I could never be.  

English is all I will never be.  

Fuck English 

Fuck it now.  

Embrace English 

Embrace it now. 


Travelling with Papa

Because I have lived 

a one and twenty years 

in this house 

with its wide truncated 

corridors, I can smell 

you everywhere, on that 

broody charpoy, that 

sedan brown chair with its 

velvety cushions piled on high 

and you dazzling like a 

laughing Buddha. Unlike him 

you had no inch of flesh on you.  

Just the smell of neem 

and sarson gave you away. 

I knew it had to be you

reading Geeta, chanting Ramayana

living on the news from CNN.  

The less I travel and stay put 

I see you in distant capitals 

visiting Eiffel one day 

and Louvre the other

tracking the road to Cottingham

searching for a house 

in Salmon Grove. 

Is it you in Hornsea

waving, gesticulating 

with a grim flick of a smile? 

See I too have left my soul there 

and am hauling the carcass everywhere. 

Ranu Uniyal is Professor of English at Lucknow University.  An author of six books, her articles and book reviews have been published widely. Her poetry has appeared in Mascara Literary Review (Australia), Jaggery, Medulla Review, Sketch Book, Twenty 20, Whispers (USA), Littlewood Press (UK), Bengal Lights (Bangladesh), Asia Literary Review, Cha (Hongkong), The Enchanting Verses Literary Review, Dhauli Review, Muse India, Kavya Bharati, Femina, Manushi, Indian Literature, Ethos literary journal and several anthologies in India and abroad. She has published three poetry collections:  Across the Divide (2006), December Poems (2012), and the most recent The Day We Went Strawberry Picking in Scarborough (2018). She has read her poems at international literature festivals and conferences in Bhubaneswar, Chemnitz, Calicut, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lancaster, Lucknow, Madrid, Tashkent and Udaipur. She was on a Writer’s residency in 2019 at Uzbekistan. Her poems have been translated in Hindi, Oriya, Malayalam, Spanish, Urdu, and Uzbek. She also writes poetry in Hindi. She is a founding member of a day care centre for children with special needs in Lucknow. She can be reached at ranuuniyalpant@gmail.com | ranuuniyal.com

Advertisements

Poetry | Poems | By Sahana Mukherjee

Sahana Mukherjee’s two-part poem concretely explores the pendulous sway between father and mother as seen from the viewpoint of an offspring. 

I

Seven stories up your shore, father. How do you do?

The moon has burnt up the beehive behind our house.

The house has burnt up another. Who can burn to the

Rhythm of a song? I can, so can you.

Seven songs up your shore, father. What will you do?

Rain has broken in. It reigns under your bed now.

The bed has invited fire; a cluster of raging clouds.

Who will stay afloat? I will, so will you.

Seven waves up your shore, father. Where will you go?

Night has crept in like a mouse, sniffing for your heart.

Let it feed off you. Let it nourish its house. A call so close –

Who can move away? Neither can I, nor you.


II

Autumn, like the hands of my mother,

Has fallen short of pain.

It has rowed a boat for too long

Over the clumsy waters of time;

Sunk into reedy pits, pungent histories;

Sung a song or two of trees

And lemony daughters.

But, now there’s an ever-yawning hole

Under the begging bowl

Where the cold of last winter crept in.

Mother, like autumn, now returns home

Alone, in suspended glory.

Author of August Ache, Sahana Mukherjee is a Junior Research Fellow at the Department of English, Jadavpur University. She is currently finishing her MPhil thesis entitled, ‘Poetry and the Location of Dreaming in Kashmir’. She won the 2017 Charles Wallace fellowship in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh.

Advertisements

Poetry | ‘You Will Never Know’, ‘I Was Not Born This Way’ by Priyanjali Negi (15) | School Student Writing

You Will Never Know

It has been almost a year since you left us alone,
And here I lie on my bed recollecting our last conversation over the phone.
Far away from each other,
But the emotions in our hearts were the same. 
My own little brother, 
And I never knew how well he played this hiding game.
During that silence, I went down memory lane.
It seemed quite pleasant then,
But now it pricks my heart causing a severe pain.
Remember, how once in school you were dressed as a fairy 
Is it okay to say that your absence has now become hard to carry?
These old videotapes of you with dad,
Just makes me more helpless and profoundly sad.
Do you know? I still send you messages on the phone.
I still make coffee and listen to “Here Comes the Sun” until dawn.  
No one knows that I sleep with your photo under my bed,
So that when you go to sleep you come to kiss me on my forehead.
I guess you will never know that I still divide my Maggi into equal halves of two,
And trust me.
There are times; I wish I were dead instead of you.


I Was Not Born This Way

I was not born this way
I know I am not unique,
And my thoughts do not belong here.
That is what makes me unable to speak,
And people think I don’t care.

I like to be alone,
I like to stay quiet,
There is an unseen pain in my tone,
As if each day my survival depends on a fight.

A fight not with the people,
A fight not with the world,
But a fight with the evil,
Which on my behalf is truly undeserved.

I sometimes wonder what I have grown into,
And wish for the child in me back.
The child who was always happy,
The child who was never sad.
The child who would be probably be laughing at me,
Looking at the things that I now lack.

Priyanjali Negi is a 15-year-old student from Delhi. She studies at Carmel Convent School. Her favourite poets is Alfred Tennyson and her favourite writer is Ruskin Bond.