Categories
Poetry

COVID & more…

By Umesh Bajagain

COVID

The virus came

with a blow

smacked me in the face

blew me out slow

for sometime

and left.

But the world

blew out loud

with a thud

and remained.

Die In, Die Out

.

The streets are empty

from the virus

and the souls are home

.

I sit by a window

below a thatched top

and see the storm

.

I tune in the radio

tells me to rest inside

away from the doom.

I tune in the TV

tells me to run outside

away from home.

I’m the Parrot and We’re the Parrots

.

I saw the weed and the paddy.

.
They stacked their feet and toes

hand in hand in their home-land
inundated in water.

.

It’s August and they’re happy—

they shared their share they suck from soil,
peace in harmony but aggravated by agony.
.

Are these both daughters of nature?
.

I asked in muse because it’s October.

October—when anthropomorphic humans rise

from the bed of utilitarianism.  

.

Saw them break the neck of the weed

and water the paddy.

Weed is no need and paddy is daddy,

they said.
.

“From their roots or they will be back,”

said the man,

uprooted the weeds,

and expected the grains to grow.

.

I’m the parrot and the nightingales are singing

“the blissful assonance of humans and demons”

.

Then I saw a philosopher

ankle-deep amongst the sisters

philosophizing friend-foe dichotomy.
.

Followed him the earth doctor;

 “Weed’s no need and grains our friends,”

who said so.

.

Who would know things deep

in the anguish of orphan sisters?

But then there are humans,

more prominent.

They part them,

break the bones of the bond

and make them irrelevant.

.

I’m the parrot and the nightingales are singing
“the blissful assonance of humans and demons.”

.

What destiny keeps them there?

A one meant to last a flash?

Day selects weed homeless

and night strips the grains

Twice they raised them together

only to part them later?

.

I’m the parrot and the nightingales are singing
“the blissful assonance of humans and demons.”

.

White, green, and brown balls,

they’re fed profuse.

Are they this frail

to nourish them to nausea?

Like a slaughtering animal

nursed to its brim,

they slaughter the weed young

partly by poison,

and parting them in season.

.

I’m a parrot and the nightingales are singing
“the blissful assonance of humans and demons”

.

Where do these weeds come from

where they plant only the grains?

Were they there all along

waiting for their sister to show up?

And how all along is all along?

.

It’s but humans

who treasure precedence and succession,

value estrangement,

who mend the rules of nature.

.

I’m a lone dead parrot.

We are lone dead parrots.

And the nightingales are gone.

.

Umesh Bajagain has been a Science and English Educator for twelve years. Also an editor by profession, he likes to call himself a short story writer by-choice and poet by-chance. Humour, Satire and Dark are his areas of interest. He is also a budding translator and a ghost author for various publications. His works have been published in local English dailies and had been waiting for the Big Pharma of literature. Right now, he’s working on a number of short stories and poems for an anthology.

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Categories
Poetry

Cornflower Caresses

 By Srividya Sivakumar

Cornfower Caresses

In Coonoor, childhood tumbles

down a hill to find its way home. 

The cobra lily has made a comeback.

The gardens are bursting with crowds and

the commotion hurts delicate

camellia ears.

The varki is especially good

with a tumbler of cardamom tea.

The churches see more charlatans

than the courthouse.

The temples clamour for

your sleep on a cold morning.

The cold is

a man with a mind of his own.

A ghost

lives in the castle behind your house.

These hills call out to you.

And the kurunji is a perfect

lover.

It appears so rarely, almost reluctantly,

in a burst of Crayola blue.

You are a pigment of my imagination

Dearest Ma,
My earliest memories of you are loud music and your dancing and singing.

I love loud music, can sing, and try to dance.

I’m often asked what my family values are and I say — a sense of humour in adversity.

Where do you think I learnt that from, ma?
The afternoon when I was born was a cold one. The military hospital had a handsome gynaecologist and you told me that

it helped you a lot. 

From cooking experiments-cabbage transformed into rasmalai-– to mad fashion sense–including bright orange sleeveless t shirts to greet stiff-upper-lip nephews–I’ve learnt that laughter is therapy.

I laughed when a day before emergency surgery, you asked: are you sure?

I love all your deliberate malapropisms.

Your,’ present continues tense,’ and ‘juvenile delicacy.’
How draining for you is a combination of drizzling and raining. 
And how you say ‘loitering and poetering.
.

Ah ma, but I know.
I know you wonder sometimes why I am the way I am.

.

When you struggled to drape a sari on me, I cried at the hideousness that looked back at me.         

Did you wonder ma, how could someone you created be so unkind?

When I told you about what I had done, you looked at me, askance.                                        How could the child created by many degrees be this stupid?

When you learnt of my illness, you cried because you thought it was in my genes.

Some of what I write and say worries you.
I know, ma.

But haven’t you taught me that choices are mine to make?

People say I look like dad.
Maybe true, but I hope that I am less him, more you. 

.

Dr. Srividya Sivakumar, a poet, columnist and speaker, has been a teacher-trainer for twenty-one years, and has two collections of verse- The Heart is an Attic and The Blue Note. Her work appears in various journals and anthologies, including the Red River Book of Haibun VOL 1, Quesadilla and Other Adventures: Food Poems, and the Best Indian Poetry 2018. Her poem, Bamboo, was nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology in 2018. Srividya wrote a weekly column, Running on Poetry, for The Hindu’s Metroplus, for eighteen months. Her column currently appears in the journal, Narrow Road.

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Categories
Poetry

Omid

by Smitha Vishwanath

Seven years she’d waited for him

She’d prayed five times each day

At fajr, zuhr, asr, maghrib and isha

On the nineteenth day of Ramadan

twelve thousand seven hundred and seventy five prayers

Had been answered

She thought, as his tiny fingers wrapped

Around hers,  his eyes still closed

‘Ya Allah!’ she thanked God

for Omid

‘Omid’ – it means hope

His body still warm

From being nursed

At her breast

Now he lay still

His pure, fresh blood splattered on the white floor

I want to understand why Omid died

Was it her punishment?

For giving birth to hope –

an unforgivable mistake in the eyes of non-believers.

 .

I thought like them that thrust the bullet

Into his tender chest. It shattered his ribs

and punctured his heart. 

I cannot understand

I think, maybe, because I am not as bad.

I thought like the merciful God who gave him life

Seventeen seconds of motherhood He had granted

In exchange for her every prayer

I cannot understand

I think, maybe, because I am not as good

 .

For God is always good

and merciful

my mother says

I cannot understand

So, I pray –

For Omid and

 his mother

And others like Omid-

crushed

before they knew what, it means ‘to be alive.’

 .

Smitha Vishwanath is a banker turned writer. A management professional, she embarked on the writing journey in 2016, with her blog, https://lifeateacher.wordpress.com, while still heading the regional Cards Operations of a bank. After having worked for almost two decades in senior roles in the banking industry, in the Middle East, she quit and returned to India in July 2018 when her husband was transferred on an assignment. Her poems and articles have been published in various anthologies. In July 2018, she co-authored a book of poetry: Roads – A Journey with Verses. Other than writing, she enjoys reading, travelling, and painting.

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Categories
Poetry

We All Can’t Breathe

By Mutiu Olawiyu

Mutiu Olawuyi (popularly called the Jungle Poet) is an international award-winning poet –  2013 World Poetry Empowered Poet Awardee, Canada, Honorary Professor of International Art Academy, Volos Greece; World Poetry Cultural Ambassador (2014) – Vancouver – Canada; and Master of Literary Innovation (2019) – World Poetry Conference, Bathinda Punjab, India . He is the producer and host of ArtFlakes on CBA TV, the Voice of East Africa and he is also the Editor-in-Chief of Parkchester Times and MCR newspapers (Print and Online) based in Bronx, New York, USA. He has authored numerous books of poetry (Among them are American Literary Legends and Other Poems [2010], Thoughts from the Jungle [2012], 9/11 Poetry [2012], and The Journey to the Archangels [2013]) and has edited numerous international anthologies, journals and magazines. Mutiu is a teacher, English language and literature curriculum developer, freelance writer/editor, literary critic and inventor of a new form of poetry called 9eleven (a poem of 9 lines written with 11 syllables) and the first writer of a story without verb – The Blotted Pawpaw (published 2013 by Bharat College in India). He is also an editor for The Criterion International Journal in English based in India. Mutiu has some of his poems, short stories and research papers published  in online and offline journals and magazines in India, Ireland, England, Canada, Greece, Nigeria and USA. Finally, some of his works have been translated to Arabic, French, Esperantos, Malayalam, Telugu and Hungarian.   

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Categories
Poetry

Taste of Ashes & The Toffee Wrappers

by Parneet Jaggi

Taste of Ashes

In a remote village
amidst silent hills of the Himalayas,
a tale of the ashes lures every passerby.
Smoke lighting up the azure sky
in glittery patches
invites waste landers to  picnic spots.
Patches of land covered with ashes-
that taste like jaggery,
offering not just sweetness,
but  ethereal elation of mind and spirit.
Each day fires turn into ashes.
Each day lovers consume their splashy attires to
liberate of the two
to become one.
Taste of their ashes surpasses all tastes. 

The Toffee Wrappers

Stripping the toffee wrappers
I undressed all
whims, colours, glaze,
coats of sweetness
thrust by automated machinery
of prodigal minds.
Now toffees at  the core
remain delectable
to be eaten till death.
Wrappers dropped down on the road
to be trampled and crushed,
so that  they do not creep into  other lives.
The heart feels light.

Dr. Parneet Jaggi is an Associate Professor, a bilingual poet, editor, critic and novelist. She has four collections of English poems and two research books. Her name appears in the Directory of Writers of America’s – Poets and Writers. She was honoured with ‘Star Ambassador of World Poetry’ award by Philosophique Poetica, India, 2019. She was declared ‘Poet of the Year 2019’ and ‘Critic of the Year 2019’ by UK’s poetry website, Destinypoets. She won the Wingword Prize 2020 for her Punjabi poem. She has co-edited two books- Poets & Poetry: Spaces Within & Without and Dynamics of Poetry: The Said and The Unsaid. Her first historical fiction (co-authored) The Call of the Citadel is ready for release in 2020. She is the Secretary of Galaxy International Foundation, India, an organization that promotes literature and social activism.

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Categories
Poetry

Birds Cry

By Melissa A Chappell

What do the birds cry

when the sun sinks upon a killing,

and the taken life feeds the hungering, blood-rich soil of a nation,

as it has for centuries.

What do the birds cry

over this blood that will not lay silent,

but runs restless, a river unencumbered, through the cindered streets.

What did the birds cry

when in such strange times

men drew up other men by ropes

to hang in trees?

What do the birds cry

when after so many words have been written,

so many speeches delivered,

and so many proclamations proclaimed,

that the sun still sinks upon killings unnumbered,

and the soil continues in its greed.

Cry, you birds, what do you cry?

“Silence, silence!

Until justice rises on the wing,

cry silence.”

.

Melissa A. Chappell is a native of South Carolina living on land passed down through her family for over 120 years. She is greatly inspired by the land and music. She plays several instruments, among them an 8 course Renaissance lute. She shares her life with her family and two miniature schnauzers. She recently published Dreams in Isolation: The World in Shadow: Poems of Reconciliation and Hope with Alien Buddha Press.

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Categories
Poetry

Spectacles

By Himadri Lahiri

.

In the worst of times my specs too have betrayed.

Only the day before yesterday

it fell from my hand, lost its shape and swayed.

Though the lenses remained intact    

the frame lost its right angles, to tell you the fact.

It being the worst of times, you cannot visit an optician

and get it mended – or go for a new acquisition.

.

So I continue wearing my specs bent.

And lo! Visions become unbelievably indecent.

White becomes black, blackness receives a jolt.

One who has been a friend so long seems a foe –

he appears with a false show.

Stranger still, how can one elected in a fair poll

inevitably turn into a mole?

Philanthropes, I believe, are god’s messengers.

How then are they trapped in messy affairs?

They appear as crooked as my neighbour

who for me holds nothing but a sabre.

Hilariously, men and women with sure stigma

are wonderful people – how it happens is an enigma –  

who run errands for the aged

and reach out to the caged

during the pandemic, the worst of times!

.

These visions reversed

must have something to do with the specs perverse –

since its fall it behaves strange.

Hope, you’ll excuse me for the change,

for I have nothing to do with the detriment.

Blame it all on the instrument.

.

Bio-noteHimadri Lahiri is former Professor, Department of English and Culture Studies, University of Burdwan, West Bengal. Currently, he is Professor of English at the School of Humanities, Netaji Subhas Open University, Kolkata. He has written extensively on Diaspora Studies, Postcolonial Studies and Indian English Literature. His latest publication is Diaspora Theory and Transnationalism (Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan, 2019).  Contemporary Indian English Poetry and Drama (Newcastle on Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2019), co-edited by him, has also been published recently. He writes book reviews for newspapers and academic journals. He writes poems at his leisure hours.    

   

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Categories
Poetry

Mango

By Ra Sh

Mango
 
When I die, will you come with me?
I asked my mango tree.
She pondered for a while and replied wisely:

When I was a sapling,
You were not even a little sperm
Nor were your forefathers.
This house and this town
Were not even concepts.

I will go with you when the squirrels do so,
And these restless birds in my branches,
And the jagged piece of stone you see in my shade
Which was once a Goddess.

Ra Sh has published three collections of poetry – Architecture of Flesh (Poetrywala), Bullet Train and other loaded poems (Hawakal) and Kintsugi by Hadni (RLFPA).  Forthcoming books are The Ichi Tree Monkey and other stories (translation of Tamil Dalit writer Bama’s short stories) (Speaking Tiger) and Blind Men Write (a play) (Rubric).Rash’s English translations include Mother Forest (Women Unlimited) (from Malayalam), Waking is another dream (Navayana) (Srilankan Tamil poems translated with Meena Kandasmy), Don’t want caste (Navayana) (collection of Malayalam short stories by Dalit writers) and Kochiites (Greenex) (a book on different communities in Kochi.)

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Categories
Poetry

Without Leash

By Scott Thomas Outlar

Without Leash
	
Mellow is the fog hanging heavy with persuasion
all the doves are cooing near the edge of absolution

but nature doesn’t forgive without a bite

One more dance of light behind the optics of transcendence
curtains fall in layers pulled by wishes best kept silent

but dogs continue barking and chasing stars

Silver is the tongue babbling chaos in the blueprint
digging in the trenches for a shelter from the fallout

but blind decrees are riddled by the fools

Scott Thomas Outlar lives and writes in the suburbs outside of Atlanta, Georgia. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He guest-edited the 2019 and 2020 Western Voices editions of Setu Mag. Selections of his poetry have been translated into Afrikaans, Albanian, Bengali, Dutch, French, Italian, Kurdish, Persian, Serbian, and Spanish. His sixth book, Of Sand and Sugar, was released in 2019. His podcast, Songs of Selah, airs weekly on 17Numa Radio and features interviews with contemporary poets, artists, musicians, and health advocates. More about Outlar’s work can be found at 17Numa.com

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Categories
Poetry

Our Global Village & The Dawn after the Pandemic

By Obinna Chilekezi

Our global village
 
a global village indeed!
as while in school, we’re
warned of dangers of going global
for a big small village, but we thought only
of the passion and money, the beauty and trade

never before is man this caged, as
the wilds freely move daily activities, unconcerned!

never told to watch that one day
china would sneeze, the rest of 
the globe would catch virus
and locked down for days, and deaths
would rise to the mount and graves swollen

never before is man this caged, as
the wilds freely move daily activities, unconcerned!

here we are today, this virused world
revolving around in this global village
of national borders closed, states closing theirs too
even local authorities banging theirs strongly too


never before is man this caged, as
the wilds freely move daily activities, unconcerned!

can this be end of our global village
as the lights in the village went off, from house to house
to your tents O’ Israel, as local authorities banged their doors
and the villages return back to their huts
or could there be another rebirth of the globe, as we know it.

never before is man this caged, as
the wilds freely move daily activities, unconcerned!
The dawn after coronavirus pandemic

Loud smiles creep across the waves. Yes smiles were loud
At the meander of holding hands again together
All along the landscape of nesting
And the incredulous affectation, in the air
As we danced to the tune of the invigorated song of laughter

The weather in blue bright. Reminder of then days of isolation
From days of death, fear and rumours of
That deadly virus that swan across the
Gatepost of boundaries, darkly and oozing 
Out more deaths along every corners of the globe

The earth became sick. Sick of the deaths of its pride, mankind; 
our earth was sick, with its garters down, in the 
foam chest of doubt. Darkness became
The beginning of the morning sun, and love
Was kept at bay. Our lovely sandlot turned gray

Then this new dawn. This dawn
Became warn and grew like our Iroko of hope. And
It came as a time of relief, unimaginable
Or imagined - we all in unison said 
Bye bye to covid 19, bye bye to its death.

The Earth became sick. Sick of the deaths of its pride, mankind; 
our Earth was sick, with its garters down, in the 
foam chest of doubt. Darkness became
The beginning of the morning sun, and love
Was kept at bay. Our lovely sandlot turned gray

Then this new dawn. This dawn
Became warn and grew like our Iroko of hope. And
It came as a time of relief, unimaginable
Or imagined - we all in unison said 
Bye bye to COVID 19, bye bye to its death.

Loud smiles creep across the waves. Yes smiles were loud
At the meander of holding hands again together
All along the landscape of nesting
And the incredulous affectation, in the air
As we danced to the tune of the invigorated song of laughter

Obinna Chilekezi is a Nigerian poet and insurance practitioner whose poems have been published in journals and anthologies. He has three published collections which are: Son Chikeziri too died, Rejection and other poems and Songs of a Stranger in the Smiling Coast. One of his insurance texts won the 2016 African Insurance Organisation Book Award. He can be used on ugobichi@yahoo.com or obinnachilekezi1@gmail.com.