International Poetry

The Basement

I was to meet a woman at the cafeteria

It is a favourite meeting place for the climbers

They plan here all day long in spring

how to negotiate heights and cravings

 

They talk about bitterly cold temperature

up there

Their weather-beaten frames blend well

with the photographs of the factories of God

and the shadows

they left in the hills in summer

 

I have come here just to exchange

my Marcus Aurelius book for a pomegranate

that she would bring

A scarlet pomegranate has sprouted

in her heart in spring

 

But the cafeteria building has a faulty lift

It announces right floors

at wrong times

 

I know the third is a cafeteria;

it lands me straight in the basement instead

It is bitterly cold

and littered with numerous footprints

Sekhar Banerjee is an author. His works have been published in Indian Literature, The Bitter Oleander, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Tiger Moth Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Kolkata, India.

Raangta

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Raangta is always

On the other side of the mirror.

The side where

No check boxes follow your name

Where exiting an immigration counter

Makes no one sweat.

On the other side,

Men and women gather after twilight

Where only the trees talk to them.

I see her sit between the glass

Her image translated in

The language the forests speak

In winter.

There is an incomplete river between us

One that even boatmen

Cannot moor in.

On a night like this

The river is a looking glass for the sky

And Raangta dips her feet in the stars.

(Raangta in my native Bengali is the tinsel paper with which we wrap sweetmeats. It is the name of my daughter.)

Sayan Aich Bhowmik is currently Assistant Professor Department of English, Shirakole College, Kolkata, India. He is also the co-editor of Plato's Caves Online, a semi academic blog on Art, Literature and Politics.

Purple Heron Rex

In the searing heat

glints of purple and brown

amid the tall rushes

outstretched over banks.

Unmoving at first

then the outline stirs —

hail the long-limbed sovereign

of a sun-washed kingdom!

Surveying his domain

he sweeps the field with

his long bill of regal ebony

imperious in the fervid noon.

A sudden flutter and he’s aloft

purple underwings spread

proud and wide over

his emerald court.

Elegantly he banks to the left

a final once-over of his

shimmering realm before

he chases the horizon.

Below him the barely

shaken rice stalks bid

a diffident farewell to their

migratory suzerain.

Edilberto C. Cruz spent 12 years abroad as an expatriate ESL teacher in Libya and Oman. Early last year, he returned home to the Philippines and now lectures on literature at a private university.

Between Pollination and Pollution

A suicidal tree on the sidewalk,

busy street, fume and dust,

I tell my friend who's arrived

in this city of mine from the green

“We are not born with a choice,

at least not always — not that we can discern.”

 

The straight razor edge of the ray 

slashes the wrist of the midday street.

People bubble and stream.

My friend dies every evening during his first week.

On the cold bed for autopsy (the coroner

waters, shears and trims him carefully)

his midsection, knifed open, bursts 

into an unkempt garden.

The following day we will stroll again

from birth towards sunset

wearing dust jackets and blurbs all over.

An author and a father, Kushal Poddar edited Words Surfacing, authored eight volumes, including The Circus Came To My Island, A Place For Your Ghost Animals, and Postmarked Quarantine, and has had his work translated into eleven languages.

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Time in a jam jar

I tried to hold all of last year

in a glass jam jar.

I would add a spoonful of flour,

every day, to the germ;

watch it stretch and turn,

a bubbling mass

rising up to the surface,

my sourness turned into froth.

 

Filled with futile effervescence

I have kept the jar in the fridge.

Time frozen in a germ,

waiting to be woken

by the soft hands of a new day,

to stir the bread of life

rolled with your gentle tide.

Hrishikesh Ingle is Assistant Professor of Film Studies from Hyderabad, India. His poems have appeared in Setu and Mad Swirl. His monograph on Marathi cinema is forthcoming. His poems are often published on his fridge top.

Soliloquy of a Matchstick

I am too small, often I am not

Seen by anyone and many

Times trampled down

Underfoot.

They don't know I have

The power to destroy the world

In a second.

The ash of their body is painted

Into the mirror of my heart —

They don't know.

They are not aware —

A little thorn

Can drink red blood.

Somewhat inspired by Sukanta Bhattacharya (Bengali: সুকান্ত ভট্টাচার্য ) (দেশলাই কাঠি, ছাড়পত্র) (1948).

Ujjal Mandal is an Indian poet who earned a Masters in English from the University of Gour Banga. He has published two books of poetry — Ambrosia In Budding Flowers (English) and Shobder Phul (Bengali), which are available on Amazon.

Extrication

Don’t bother me now

I am busy drenching myself in all the unexplained metaphors,

humming the fatuous onomatopoeias.

For once my heart is not faint with a hundred stitches,

I am not abashed by my rumbustious self.

 

I run wild, barefoot in the shadowed woods,

magnolias aside,

lips not blanched,

soul not shackled,

hair not rough with excruciation.

 

I dance around, amidst the thorny roads

in the glinting moonlight

of mirthful memories,

the clear sky

untethered from the strings of life

forever.

Tamoha Mukhopadhyay is a girl of 16 from Kolkata, India. She often feels tangled in the strings of life and the darkness seems to pirouette around her. Writing, to her, is a form of untethering the strings and starting all over again.