Better Than Starbucks
Poetry and Fiction Journal
. . . if you love diversity and creative writing in any and every form, then you’re in the right place . . .
Vol VII No I
February, May, August,
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
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 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
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
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.
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
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.
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,
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