Borderless January, 2022

Painting by Sohana Manzoor


Elephants & Laughter… Click here to read.


Keith Lyons introduces us to Kenny Peavy, an author, adventurer, educator and wilderness first-aider who has travelled far and wide and wishes everyone could connect with the natural world right outside their door. Click here to read.

In Rhys Hughes Unbounded, Hughes, an author and adventurer, tells us about his inclination for comedies. Click here to read


Professor Fakrul Alam translates If Life were Eternal by Jibananada Das from Bengali. Click here to read.

Ratnottama Sengupta translates Bengali poet Michael Madhusudan Dutt’s Bijoya Doushami. Click here to read.

Korean poet Ihlwha Choi translates his own poem, Sometimes Losing is Winning, from Korean. Click here to read.

Give Me A Rag, Please:A short story by Nabendu Ghosh, translated by Ratnottama Sengupta, set in the 1943 Bengal Famine, which reflects on man’s basic needs. Click here to read.

On This Auspicious Day is a translation of a Tagore’s song, Aaji Shubhodine Pitaar Bhabone, from Bengali by Mitali Chakravarty. Click here to read.


Click on the names to read

Rhys Hughes, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Anasuya Bhar, Jay Nicholls, Anuradha Vijayakrishnan, Vernon Daim, Mathangi Sunderrajan, William Miller, Syam Sudhakar, Mike Smith, Pramod Rastogi, Ivan Peledov, Subzar Ahmed, Michael R Burch

Nature’s Musings

In Best Friends, Penny Wilkes takes us for a photographic treat. Click here to read.

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In Making Something of Nothing…, Rhys Hughes explores sources of inspirations with a dollop of humour. Click here to read.

Musings/Slices from Life

Wooing Children to School

Munaj Gul writes of how volunteers are engaged in wooing children from poverty stricken backgrounds to school in Turbat, Balochistan. Click here to read.

Historical Accuracy

Ravibala Shenoy ponders over various interpretations of the past in media and through social media. Click here to read.

The Ocean & Me

Meredith Stephens writes of her sailing adventures in South Australia. Click here to read.


Kavya RK finds her fascination for plants flourish in the pandemic. Click here to read.

The Great Freeze

P Ravi Shankar trots through winters in different parts of the globe. Click here to read.

Two Birds

Ratnottama Sengupta muses as she translates a Tagore’s song. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In The New Year’s Boon, Devraj Singh gives a glimpse into the projection of a new normal created by God. Click here to read.


Dramatising an Evolving Consciousness: Theatre with Nithari’s Children

Sanjay Kumar gives us a glimpse of how theatre has been used to transcend trauma and create bridges. Click here to read.

Potable Water Crisis & the Sunderbans

Camellia Biswas, a visitor to Sunderbans during the cyclone Alia, turns environmentalist and writes about the potable water issue faced by locals. Click here to read.

The Malodorous Mountain: A Contemporary Folklore

Sayantan Sur looks into environmental hazards due to shoddy garbage disposal. Click here to read.

Where Sands Drift Back in Time…

Shernaz Wadia explores Western Australia. Click here to read.

The Observant Immigrant

In The Changing Faces of the Family, Candice Louisa Daquin explores the trends in what is seen as a family now. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

In Fakir Mohan: A Tribute, Bhaskar Parichha introduces us to Fakir Mohan Senapati, the writer he considers the greatest in Odia literature. Click here to read.


Folklore from Balochistan: The Pearl

Balochi folktales woven into a story and reinvented by Fazal Baloch highlighting the wisdom of a woman. Click here to read.

The American Wonder

Steve Ogah takes us to a village in Nigeria. Click here to read.

The Boy

Neilay Khasnabish shares a story on migrant labours with a twist. Click here to read.

Stranger than Fiction

Sushant Thapa writes of real life in Nepal, which at times is stranger than fiction. Click here to read.

The Solace

Candice Louisa Daquin takes us on a poignant story of longing. Click here to read.

The Doll

Sohana Manzoor tells a story around the awakening of a young woman. Click here to read.

Among Our PeopleDevraj Singh Kalsi gives a fictitious account of a common man’s quest for security in a country that is one of the world’s largest democracy. Click here to read.

Book Excerpts

An excerpt from Shazi Zaman’s Akbar: A Novel of History detailing his interactions with Surdas and Braj. Click here to read.

Excerpts from A Glimpse Into My Country, An Anthology of International Short Stories edited by Andrée Roby & Dr Sangita Swechcha. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Meenakshi Malhotra reviews Somdatta Mandal’s translation of A Bengali Lady in England by Krishnabhabini Das (1885). Click here to read.

Gracy Samjetsabam reviews Anuradha Kumar’s The Hottest Summer in Years. Click here to read.

Rakhi Dalal reviews Selma Carvalho’s Sisterhood of Swans. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Amit Ranjan’s John Lang; Wanderer of Hindoostan; Slanderer in Hindoostanee; Lawyer for the Ranee. Click here to read.


Elephants & Laughter

Run, Painting by Sybil Pretious

Ideally, I would love to start the New Year with laughter and happiness! Then perhaps, the whole year would be dotted with humour …

Laughter clubs often practice laughing for health benefits. I know the pandemic makes both guffawing outdoors or in a group hard but think of the funniest possible thing and, perhaps, you will start laughing. For me what works other than children’s and monkeys’ antics, are my trips to the dentist, especially the trip where I wondered on the fringe benefits of ‘laughing gas’ (as given in the PG Wodehouse novel of the same name), only to be informed that it was used exclusively for young children. For me, an adult, there was only — you have guessed it — the jab that numbs your lip function to lubber. I discovered if I could make light of a dentist drilling by learning from Harry Potter (the spell to get rid of the terrifying boggart, who took the shape of the thing you feared most, was to imagine the funniest thing, focus on the humour in it, and shout ‘Riddikulus’ with a wand pointed at the creature in the form of your worst nightmare), then I could pretty much get rid of most fears.

The other thing I have been wondering for sometime is can one write an editorial that is humorous when the content is serious? I would have wanted to ask that question to many, including Ruskin Bond, who continues as one of my idols. I would love to touch hearts with the humour and the sensitivity that flavours his writing. It is tough to convey a complex thought with the simplicity and elegance of a writer who can be read and understood easily. I think we have a few of them around and I interviewed one. You all probably know him well— Rhys Hughes. I have given the reasons for the interview in lieu of Mr Bond, who continues a distant star beyond the horizon of online interviews. We discussed humour and its role in literature, leaving out completely in the cold, the fictional Mr Bond who answers to the names of James and 007 and has made entertaining films, which can be seen as serious or non-serious.

Hughes has of course, given some writerly advice not just in the interview but in ‘Making Something of Nothing’ – pretty much the advice that God had probably been given when he asked an unspecified friend on how to create the universe and multiple realities. Hughes has also added to our galaxy of poets where Michael Burch, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Anasuya Bhar, Vernon Daim, William Miller, Pramod Rastogi, Mike Smith, Jay Nicholls and many more continue to sparkle. Taking up the theme of God’s creations, Devraj Singh Kalsi has added to more humour with a dream of divine intervention to make the ‘New Normal’ in 2022 – a plan for this year. Will it ever be real?

Another major issue in this world currently is climate change. In keeping with the need for acceptance of this reality, Keith Lyons introduced us to a nature lover, author and adventurer Kenny Peavy, who loved the fictional adventurer called Indiana Jones and has been working towards living in harmony with nature. He moved to Indonesia from America and is trying to raise awareness. You can find much, though not elephants, in the interview that encompasses the story of a man who cycled across a continent on a bike made of bamboo. However, you can find some writing on a king who acquired the skill to ride and tame elephants in our book excerpt from Shazi Zaman’s Akbar: A Novel of History. The excerpt does not showcase his elephant taming skills as did the Bollywood blockbuster Jodha Akbar but is focussed on bringing out the syncretism in the Mughal monarch’s outlook which made him seek out exponents of other religions. Sangita Swechcha’s and Andrée Roby’s anthology, A Glimpse Into My Country, with excerpts of short stories from Nepal and Zimbabwe, like Kenny Peavy, cycle across multiple borders as does our fiction. We feature stories from within and without the continent with Fazal Baloch recombining a couple of folklores from Balochistan to a single tale. Fiction from young writers highlight compassion and a varied perspective. Steve Ogah has a story from Nigeria which almost rings with overtones of Alex Haley’s Roots. Sohana Manzoor has given us a poignant narrative with an inspiring twist at the end, an absolute antithesis of the humorous one she rolled out for us last month. Candice Louisa Daquin has also given us an exceptional short fiction along with her column where she discusses the changing face of families in the current context.

While Daquin’s focus is mainly towards the West, we have an essay from Sanjay Kumar on families that live in the greyer zones of big cities, children from an outcropping called Nithari in Delhi, where they or theirs suffered neglect, abuse, carnage and cannibalism in their formative years.  Introducing the impacted children, Kumar explains how they transcended the wounds that lacerated their lives. This piece is a precursor to a column called ‘Children of Nithari’. Starting February, the abuse victims will give us a story a month which will be translated by young volunteers from pandies’, an activist theatre group founded by Kumar, and published in Borderless. Another article from Balochistan reflects on the lack of literacy and efforts to bring children into the folds of schooling. Pakistan ranked 99th out of 132 countries on the literacy survey in 2021. We are privileged to be the voice of the unheard.

Two essays that ring of concerns raised in the Kenny Peavy interview are to do with climate crisis in the Sunderbans and waste disposal in Delhi. Both of these are written by researchers who are working on these issues.

We have travel pieces from Australia – one is a sailing adventure by Meredith Stephens and the other is about a trip to the Sand Dunes of Western Australia by Shernaz Wadia. Ravi Shankar has also taken us through winters from the Everest to New York with his globe-trotting non-fiction. Penny Wilkes takes us on a flight of creativity with beautiful photography.

We have a stellar layout of translations. Professor Fakrul Alam translated another poem by Jibananada Das and Borderless is honoured to publish it to the world for the first time. We have a translation from Korea and another of a Brahmo hymn, Aji Shubho Dine, by Tagore, which is sung often during festivals. The icing in our Tagore section in this issue is Ratnottama Sengupta’s translation of the Kobiguru’s ‘Two Birds’ (Khanchar Pakhi Chhilo) along with a musing which reflects on the perspectives of the two contemporaries, Tagore and Saratchandra. She has also translated a well-known Bengali poet, Michael Madhusudan Dutt. Dutt wrote just before the advent of Tagore and had an interesting past which has been vividly depicted by Sunil Gangopadhyay in Those Days (Sei Somoy in Bengali), a novel that has been translated by Aruna Chakravarti. Bhaskar Parichha has given us a tribute on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Fakir Mohan Senapati, who, he claims, has the same standing in Odia literature as Tagore in Bengali or Premchand in Hindi.

Parichha has also reviewed Amit Ranjan’s John Lang; Wanderer of Hindoostan; Slanderer in Hindoostanee; Lawyer for the Ranee. It looks like an interesting read where an immigrant Australian came supported Rani of Jhansi in India. Rakhi Dalal has reviewed Selma Carvalho’s Sisterhood of Swans, again a story of migrants and their lives. The theme seems to echo among the books that have been reviewed this time, including Gracy Samjetsabam’s take on Anuradha Kumar’s The Hottest Summer in Years, a story about a German immigrant to India in the twentieth century. Meenakshi Malhotra’s review of Somdatta Mandal’s translation of A Bengali Lady in England by Krishnabhabini Das (1885) highlights the views of a traveller rather than an immigrant as the lady did return home after a ten-year sojourn in Britain. As Meenakshi contends, “The process of travel offers opportunities for emancipation where exposure to other cultures offers her a way of viewing and of gaining a perspective on her own experiences and that of her sisters in India. Krishnabhabini constantly refers to her Indian sisters and bemoans their sorry state and ignorance when she sees how active British women were in their families and societies…”

I was supposed to try my hand at a humorous editorial, but I realise that is tough when the ground is small. For humour, we need rolling acres where we can etch out each detail till it cannot be milked further for laughter. But I promise you I will keep trying to please the readers till one evolves to write like Ruskin Bond.

I would like to thank my fabulous team who even if not actively contributing to content are always at hand to advise and help. I would especially want to thank both Sohana Manzoor and Sybil for their fantastic artwork, which is as wonderful as their writings. I would like to give heartfelt thanks to all the contributors who have made this journal possible and each reader who comes back to our journal for more every month. Some of the pieces remain unmentioned adding to the mystery of the content, just like, Christmas gifts which need to be unwrapped and continue a reality even in January in some parts of the world – the Russians celebrate on January 7th and the Spaniards extend their festivities to January 6th.

Do take a look at this month’s edition for not just the stories mentioned here but for more.

I wish you all a wonderful New Year filled with laughter.

Mitali Chakravarty

Borderless Journal


The Dispute with Simon Magus

Poetry by William Miller

Disputation with Simon Magus, Filippino Lippi (1457-1504). Courtesy: Creative Commons
  (after Filippino Lippi)

The apostles walk in lock step, red-capped 
and wearing long Florentine robes, their eyes 
steady with purpose. But he looks between them:
cropped black hair, long aquiline nose, almond eyes
that probe for more than wisdom in a leather-bound missal.

One in three, the third member of the trinity—man’s soul
curious beyond silver clouds, the harps of heaven,
doesn’t believe in a bended knee or simple names 
for an ancient mystery: “Jesus,” “Jehovah,” “I AM.”
Simon Magus carried in his black heart the beat

of God’s favourite angel, all the secrets he knew
 inside locked iron gates. From his grave grew a tree
of unforbidden fruit, the pulpy juice sticky and sweet
as poison that does everything but kill. Clerics walk
in lock step and never purchase with a bag of gold florins

the miracle of healing a withered hand, the secret
of daily resurrection. Simon’s dark eyes look
into ours asking only that we seek and find, knock
and open the door that leads to a downward staircase,
treasures the king hordes only for himself.


The first in my Sunday school class to walk down,
answer the altar call by myself, I was only twelve.
Only twelve but growing into a gray, confused age.
My father drank vodka from a flask in the church
parking lot; my mother was a perfumed ghost
with blood-red nails, there and not there.

I didn’t believe in Jesus or the grim preacher,
the pious rednecks in folding chairs who ate
saltine crackers and sipped warm grape juice from
shot glasses once a month. I hated hymns, 
never wanted to join the faithful on a “Beautiful 
Shore” or stand like a cheated fool at the foot

of the “Old Rugged Cross.”  But I liked 
the water rite, hoped to drown and come up 
someone else reborn with wings to fly away from
the new brick church with modern stained glass.
My only ticket out was dying in a tank behind
the altar, chlorine water in my nose and lungs

after being dunked three times. And on that day,
two Sundays later, I wore a choir robe and rubber 
boots, took three steps down into the blue-green
lukewarm water. The preacher pinched my nose
and held me deeper when he called down
the Holy Spirit. It didn’t work, not then

or now, not death enough but something different
for a few drowned seconds, heart pumping hard
from lack of air. My robe was soaked, my hair 
wet and pasted to my forehead. The organ
cranked out “Amazing Grace” as if I were saved,
a child sinner come home.


He once told fortunes on the square but made no money.
Our super, he wears a black wifebeater t-shirt 
with a white upside-down cross and the angry words
across his chest: “Hail Satan!”

Never, unless it was a third-time request to fix a broken
smoke alarm or leaky pipe, did he speak to anyone,
his face hidden behind long dirty-blonde hair.
Kittens in his window looked out all day with sad eyes—
my next-door neighbor, a drunken bartender, swore
he sacrificed them, one by one, to the Devil.
Not until the hurricane that blew our lights and AC out
for eight days and three hours,

the temperature over 100 degrees, did his sallow skin
start to crack. He told me at midnight in the courtyard
that he wanted to go home to Indiana, buy a farm 
and live with cats he didn’t raise to sell to the best owners

he could find. He loved their mystery, their silence.
New Orleans had chewed him up. The mosquitos alone 
made us all victims, the water we had to boil 
for thirty minutes before we drank it, took a bath

or washed our hands. He was robbed for his shoes
and belt, stepped on a dirty needle walking home.
He wanted to see the seasons change, watch the leaves
tumble down and die a slow, lovely death.

Twenty miles from the nearest church, he’d live alone,
and never care if the moon meant anything more 
than light between the trees or on the grass—
twenty miles from any cross, upside down or not.

William Miller’s eighth collection of poetry, Lee Circle, was published by Shanti Arts Press in 2019.  His poems have appeared in many journals, including, The Penn Review, The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner and West Branch.  He lives and writes in the French Quarter of New Orleans.




Borderless December 2021


Towards a Brave New World… Click here to read.


In Bridge over Troubled Waters, academic Sanjay Kumar tells us about Pandies, an activist theatre group founded by him that educates, bridging gaps between the divides of University educated and the less fortunate who people slums or terror zones. Click here to read.

In Lessons Old and New from a Stray Japanese Cat, Keith Lyons talks with the author of The Cat with Three Passports, CJ Fentiman who likes the anonymity loaned by resettling in new places & enjoys creating a space for herself away from her birthplace. Click here to read.


Poetry by Jibananda

Translated from Bengali by Fakrul Alam, two poem by the late Jibananda Das. Click here to read.

Shorter Poems of Akbar Barakzai

Translated from Balochi by Fazal Baloch, five shorter poems by Akbar Barakzai. Click here to read.

Long Continuous Battle

Written and translated from Korean by Ihlwha Choi. Click here to read.

Colour the World

Rangiye Diye Jao, a song by Tagore, transcreated by Ratnottama Sengupta. Click here to read.

Rakhamaninov’s Sonata

A short story by Sherzod Artikov, translated from Uzbeki by Nigora Mukhammad. Click here to read.

Robert Burns & Tagore in Harmony

A transcreation of Tagore’s song, Purano Sei Diner Kotha, based on Robert Burn’s poem associated with new year’s revelries by Mitali Chakravarty. Click here to read.


Click on the names to read

Michael R Burch, Dibyajyoti Sarma, Anasuya Bhar, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Sambhu Nath Banerjee, Michael Brockley, Malachi Edwin Vethamani, George Freek, Mitra Samal, William Miller, Harsimran Kaur, Jay Nicholls, Sangeeta Sharma, Rhys Hughes

Nature’s Musings

In Lewie, the Leaf, Penny Wilkes explores the last vestiges of autumn with her camera and a touching story. Click here to read.

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In Trouser Hermits, Rhys Hughes muses over men’s attire and the lack of them. Click here to read.

Musings/ Slices from Life

Kungfu Panda & Matrimony

Alpana gives a glimpse into her own marital experiences through the lockdown. Click here to read.

How I Transitioned from a Desk Worker to a Rugged Trail Hiker at Age Sixty

Meredith Stephens shares the impact of the pandemic on her life choices. Click here to read.

A Tale of Two Houses

P Ravi Shankar travels back to the Kerala of his childhood. Click here to read.

The Voice that Sings Hope through Suffering…

Rakibul Hasan Khan pays a tribute with a twist to a recently deceased Bangladeshi writer, Hasan Azizul Huq. Click here to read.

Canada: A Live Canvas

Sunil Sharma reflects on the colours of the fall in Canada. Click here to read.

To Infinity & Beyond!

Candice Louisa Daquin explores the magic of space travel. Click here to read.

Joy Bangla: Memories of 1971

Ratnottama Sengupta recaptures a time when as a teenager she witnessed a war that was fought to retain a language and culture. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Statue Without Stature, Devraj Singh Kalsi muses on erecting a bust with a dollop of humour. Click here to read.


Flash Fiction: In Search of a New Home

Marzia Rahman shares a short narrative about refugees. Click here to read.

Floating Free

Lakshmi Kannan travels with a humming bird to her past. Click here to read.

Driving with Murad

Sohana Manzoor unfolds her experiences while learning to drive with a dash of humour. Click here to read.

Dinner with Bo Stamford in Hong Kong

Steve Davidson has a ghostly encounter in Hong Kong. Click here to read.

The Literary Fictionist

In Walls, Sunil Sharma peers into fallacies and divides. Click here to read.


What’s Novel in a Genre?

Indrasish Banerjee explores why we need a genre in this novel-based essay. Click here to read.

Of Palaces and Restorations

Rupali Gupta Mukherjee visits a restored palace in the heartland of Bengal. Click here to read.

The Incongruity of “Perfect” Poems

Rakibul Hasan Khan discusses Bangladeshi poet Sofiul Azam’s poetry from a post colonial perspective. Click here to read.

The Birth of Bangladesh & the University of Dhaka

Professor Fakrul Alam takes us through the three Partitions of Bengal which ultimately led to the creation of Bangladesh, with focus on the role of Dhaka University. Click here to read.

The Observant Migrant

In When is a mental illness not a mental illness?, Candice Lousia Daquin provides us with a re-look into what is often judged as a psychiatric issue. Click here to read.

Book Excerpts

Somdatta Mandal’s translation of A Bengali Lady in England by Krishnabhabini Das (1885). Click here to read.

Suzanne Kamata’s The Baseball Widow. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Aruna Chakravarti reviews Devika Khanna Narula’s Beyond the Veil. Click here to read.

Rakhi Dalal reviews Anirudh Kala’s Two and a Half Rivers. Click here to read.

Keith Lyons reviews CJ Fentiman’s The Cat with Three Passports: What a Japanese cat taught me about an old culture and new beginnings. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha reviews BP Pande’s In the Service of Free India –Memoirs of a Civil Servant. Click here to read.


Imprints from New Orleans

By William Miller

Form Rejection Letter

                                                                    In this star chamber, three men
                                                                    with cowls read endless poems,
                                                                    the paper offerings of souls   
                                                                    mailed with a return envelope.          

                                                                    A pair of ancient scales weigh
                                                                    and measure the worth 
                                                                    of uncommon pain squeezed
                                                                    into verse -- metered, rhymed

                                                                    or free.  Hearts break, beauty
                                                                    dies, but there is only space 
                                                                    enough for poems that fit
                                                                    current editorial needs.

                                                                    Once human, poets themselves,
                                                                    they must coldly judge the most
                                                                    awful confessions, maps
                                                                    of despair, personal grief.

                                                                    And on that scale, your best words
                                                                    almost tip the golden bowl,
                                                                    a pound, just half-pound,
                                                                    an ounce found wanting.


                                                                 In her Irish Channel kitchen,
                                                                 she drinks imported herbal tea.
                                                                 Her backyard is safe for two

                                                                 thriving little kids.  All is well
                                                                 until night—she sees the leanest,
                                                                 meanest dog lying with 

                                                                 her pups as if she owned 
                                                                 the grass.  This is no park breed
                                                                 with sleek brushed fur,

                                                                 fed Ethiopian grain by hand.
                                                                 Her husband calls the police,
                                                                 who call Fish and Game,

                                                                 who never call back.  
                                                                 All the moms, all the children
                                                                 are asleep except for two

                                                                 mothers who know men 
                                                                 protect no one, not really,
                                                                 not even their own families.

                                                                 They breed quickly, run off 
                                                                 to the batture* or fall on
                                                                 the couch, watch the replay

                                                                 of the Saints last home game.
                                                                 Their wives would kill, rip
                                                                 and tear flesh from female bones

                                                                 if it came to that.  A truce
                                                                 is made, eye to eye understanding,
                                                                 a secret woman’s pact.  

                                                                 Grown pups wander off—
                                                                 their mothers too in dreams,
                                                                still young enough to mate for fun.

*Batture: Bar in New Orleans

Women’s Shelter, York, PA

All that summer, I did Christ’s chores—
Meals on Wheels, the only man
at the clothing drive, penance
for leaving my wife, the woman
I left my wife for.
Past red brick facades, colonial
slave porches, I followed a wet
cobblestone street to a door
with a barred window,
rang the buzzer.
That face in the window turned
me to stone, the pale woman’s
hard brown eyes, her only
request simple and blunt—
“Put it down, leave.”
I wanted credit, time served—
my mother abandoned me
when I was twelve. I still
saw her in every dyed blonde
with fake breasts.
No other choice, retreat inevitable,
I put down two plastic bags
filled with toothbrushes,
toothpaste, candy bars
and soap bricks.
These walls were made
of more than fired clay
troweled by slave hands--
they were two-feet thick
like the fear between us.

Ruth’s Garden

                                                              Latex gloves, surgical green,
                                                              protect her hands from thistles, 
                                                              sticky thorns, opioid needles.

                                                              The homeless are the children
                                                              she never had, never wanted, 
                                                              not even since Katrina

                                                              made her homeless as the next
                                                              pale survivor in long line for 
                                                              a FEMA trailer.  

                                                              These ferns and flowers redeem
                                                              her spotted hands, watered
                                                              with a swan-neck spout

                                                              twice a day.  Like a turtle’s,
                                                              her shell is thick enough
                                                              to repel the insults of gutterpunks
                                                              on the broken sidewalk,
                                                              their contempt for an old lady                                                                        
                                                              who believes in growing

                                                              green things. Survival 
                                                              of the unfit is the unhealthy norm
                                                              in a Quarter that once

                                                              was a neighbourhood, 
                                                              beer drunk from tin buckets
                                                              on the banquette, a light

                                                              in every dormer window.
                                                              She alone is the reptile,
                                                              the mud creature who 

                                                              reminds us a rose is still 
                                                              a rose, nothing blooms
                                                              without a few drops of love.

William Miller’s eighth collection of poetry, Lee Circle, was published by Shanti Arts Press in 2019.  His poems have appeared in many journals, including, The Penn Review, The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner and West Branch.  He lives and writes in the French Quarter of New Orleans.