2 poems by Shriram Sivaramakrishnan

First Published by RædLeafPoetry-India
2 poems archived/Published on 03.01.2015


We are, but our 

‘Drop your  and your drop your ticket to afterlife,’
my grandmother told me when I was young.

I remember the big Almirah at our place, like
those of our neighbours’ and their neighbours’
and so on…in whose shelves after dusty shelves sat
various glass jars of water like Egyptian figurines.

‘Those are yours and mine,’ she uttered, her
booming voice echoing every time. Not to forget that
look on her face as she admired them, like an athlete
whose time has come and gone, admiring her trophy collection.

Soon I was given my first jar: a stout specimen
filled with so little water I cried incessantly on seeing it.
The water was muddy red. This was when I turned six.
My playmate then got a similar one, but
filled with sparkling clean water.

I got my second one when I got my first pimple.
This time a slender jar half –filled with water.
I got the next one when I got married, the next one
when you were born; each time the water level
getting ever so higher than the previous time.

‘You will get a jar full of water when you reach God,’
my grandmother had consoled me the day I had cried.
In the next spring, she died peacefully in her sleep.
My father gave her a bulkier looking glass jar,
this one full of brackish water. Her coffin was
packed with her bottles and her body.

My mother got one too when she died –
an ugly duckling of a jar filled with brownish
orange water. It would have made her remember
the cough syrup she had drunk almost daily
in those last few years till the day she died.

When my friend Rachel’s mother passed away
many summers ago, she was given a jar
full of clear water, engraved with flying fishes
and little mermaids.

‘Our water burns in the sun, just like we do,
and so it will remain coloured, unlike theirs!’
this was my father making the water
even more murkier, with his reasoning.

This was the belief in our community,
until the day the lake dried up, i.e. the lake
that held clear water – their clear water –
dried up.

Rachel was worried that she will not
be allowed her rite of passage. In the days
that followed, she became more stoic
than what she could take.

I told her to cry. And save her tears.
They are colourless and could be precious.
She might get away with them in her afterlife.
And she did just that: crying day and night. Till she
got too weak to cry. But by then, she
had saved a jar full of tears for her onward journey.

On solemn nights, I hear the God
screaming in my dreams, ‘Go! Bring me
one more jar of water – full – somehow.’
And every time I ask Him why, He replies with a smile,
‘Fulfilled jars fulfil your journey!’

I wake up then, invariably.



Eye-balls for Supper

A ricochet it was
that plucked their fangs like grapes
from blood red gums,
in the process broke
some knot
deep inside their abdomen and
let them bleed into an abscess-
a puss on their molars:
teeth that can tear apart
the hard skin of deer;

at times when it goes rogue
missing everything that the bullet
had already missed,
a single axe does the job:
after tree
after tree

till what is left are stumps and solitude
for their supper.

A bullet will not suffice anymore,
a bullet is too civilized,
a bullet kills according to physics.

Not when the blood splashes in a fountain,
and the corpses, lying to be discovered
and eaten.

Perhaps the beasts had developed
bipolar disorder soon afterwards.

By the next full moon,
they slipped in
and slipped out
with the sinews of an orphan
playing in the backyard.

A kill followed soon –
peeled off by powerful claws
and preyed upon by softer molars
in broad daylight
when the shadow falls on itself in fear.

But there had been other kills too,
in millions,
for colour & cunt
spilling blood like sunlight
on forest floor and muddy waters.

Do they roar at the sacrificial altar?

Not these days.
Not when they are busy burping,
after having gorged eye-balls
for the nightfall.









Shriram Sivaramakrishnan, a poet from India, calls himself an eternal lover of ‘things in between’ — roads less travelled, emotions seldom expressed, moments forever lost, and so on.

Based on the custom of providing jars in the Angarth society in US, in the early 20th century. More popularly called as ‘Harvard Jars,’ these can be found in the Angarth Museum archive. You can also read about them here.
Based on the custom of providing jars in the Angarth society in US, in the early 20th century. More popularly called as ‘Harvard Jars,’ these can be found in the Angarth Museum archive. You can also read about them here.

3 poems- Sharanya Manivannan

Portrait As Phoenix


What if I lived

only so I could speak of this:


of we who survive damnation.


I who on the other side of selfhood

emerged a creature infernal:


mother, mud-eater,

beautiful as forest fire





I who have borne the unbearable,


I who held the unspeakable

in my beak

as I tried to sing









In those years of hallucinatory dreaming

I was convinced that when you returned,

it would be in some inconceivable form.


A trick of light, a shadowless being,

a beauty so startling that mirrors

would withdraw, opaque as the winter

lakes of the northern countries.


I looked for you everywhere.


I thought you were coded in the wind,

a sunburst, a falling star, a golden deer.

My longing drawn taut as a bowstring,

I could have sighted you in any guise.


One grows watchful in the wilderness,

believes everything possible.


I would have taken you in any shape,

any apparition you arrived in, man or beast,

illusion or evidence, demon or god.

Any shape you could have come in.

If only you had come.






I remember the forest – how at

the border’s stillness I would

take its songs into my

mouth like a vow       before I crossed over.


Each time, a river unscripted

but already told.


I arrive again after years of bramble,

navigatingpaths bled of the same

red earth of my bones.


This is not the dismemberment

I convulsed at the threshold in


in those long years of banishment.


I would have received any falsehood

but this I could never have imagined


– this ingress, this homecoming –

that I would run through the trail


by the light of forest moon,

a desert prodigal

offering flowers to the garden.




Read Sharanya Manivanan interview here

First Published by RædLeafPoetry-India
3 poems archived/published on 12.15.2014

5 Poems- Jeena Mary Chacko/ Miki Mibzii


striking tongue in octaves-
the lurid mirth of dead flowers,
ectoplasm of a million bee-ghosts-

Honey, a fumbling fugue
fragrance of untold summers
trickling away, syllable by syllable,
prickles of blazing dulcitude-
from tongue, to throat
to soul.



The refrigerator hums our story-
while we chase the strange thing
flapping in our ribs.
old crows walk over our eyes at night,
leaving footprints on moist sands.
We see ourselves in nightmares-
our expressions unfurling
full-blown bubble gums-
we wake up with displaced faces,
deflated, creased and saliva-spilling-
becoming one-second strangers
before all the world reassembles in our heads.

Other days we bite into seasonal fruits-
a grape, a sugared papaya,
a pineapple that bites us back
and talk of the pending rent,
of the diminishing flour, phone bills,
backaches and broken doors-
waiting to be fixed, solved, restocked
only to break down again and again.

But for a brief moment,
we chew on the fruity sweetness
on the lies we plan to tell
on the truths we already know.

We grope in the tub of tapioca chips
sitting in our backyard facing the forests
put out comfortable roots together
a scratchy beard, two veined hands;
our inner diagrams bare-
our toes turn muddy
while our eyes grow wings
and fly backwards to an old summer.

our palms like insane spiders
clinging to folds, a chuckle emitting
from the salty madness in
our possessive limbs.
scars age slowly, sucks up all exhales.
unquenchable, the ancient cinders
stir in our ventricles;
we taste them imperceptibly-
and call it love.




Today I walk inside you-
through the entire
length of your algebra;
your organs turn to cumulus clouds
through their porous cartilage
I fall
the ground is unkind.


In an old indoor game we played I-
took you apart under a microscope
morsel by morsel, I sort you
regerminate you in a petri dish
You won.


our roots tangle, jaws dance
bones eat one another
I seep into your seams
ourunevennesses fitting, grafting;
grove to grove, growing.


(lets just stick to the big picture here;
tuck in the loose ends, bulges)

we become zygomorphous.


To work out your jigsaw
throw away all uneasy pieces,
sprout stock habits, inorganic blocks
practice make-believe, keep it easy peasy.


In salty oceans of your neurons,
my diaphanous creatures dwell
I look at you through their see-through fins
thus I evolve bioluminescence, a crust
a flake of me live in each of your oceans.


To love you is to split you into arguments
imprison you in explanations
make you a school of thought

I have eventually summarized you
a concise copy, proof-read, spiral-bound
each chip and scratch labled
you now neatly fit into my armpit.




We are each other’s syndrome,
midnight snacks,
an expression caught unawares
(a twitch in the jaw/ that guffaw!)

familiar as the mole on my arm,
stranger than the odd Amazon fish
you dreamt of one fever ago,

We are, of each other,
impromptu photographs
older than comets,
than zygotes
than air.

you were that crossroad on a winter night-
the face springing up on patchy, wet walls
the leaf that bedazzled the breeze
made a fleck of daybreak dance
that changed the course of a certain destiny
you are my disorder
the laugh in my head
the lump in my throat
the lurch in my stomach
music under my skin

We are dust motes winking, twinning
in an astounding speckle of light.
We pull apart earth’s skin,
invent secrets to fill
our drunken mouths,
we are each other’s discoveries,
culmination of all permutations and intuitions
from the first cell
the primordial breath
until this moment
we are a life time lived
the intersection
on that starry graph
all the glasses we didn’t break
all the mirrors that never saw us
we must be fate’s whimsy
we are each other’s schizophrenia
I draw a cloud on you and we drift up
you turn into a well and I brim
we are books we meant to read
(or write or wished to tear apart)
review, criticize, or keep under the pillow

You sum up what I have split into
an uncomprehending equation
We are the otherness in each other
mere configurations
created, filament by filament
a blend of all that comprises
this chaos
we are chaos
we are-
lets empty ourselves, lets dangle our feet
lets sit there, at the edge of this incredible lustre
lets do nothing !
but watch this story take roots.


This Poem

This poem bears my anxieties on its spine-
social-anxiety disordered, cornered,
see the words sticking to the rims
a diffident stain, that sheepish grin-
refusing to speak up, nibbling on cuticles-
this poem prefers to observe the cervices on walls
avoiding eye contact,
It is annoyingly harmless
not meant to shout, reconstruct, revolt.

A wiggly string of words, loosely bandaged
straining to become that language that makes
breath condense, teeth crackle, toes curl.

I am not enough to contain this poem
germinating, crowding pushing-
I tear down its waxy honeycombs
smoking it out
free-verses clinging to the under-side of organs
rush out rhymeless, flapping, falling out-
scratching my face
their bellows knock against my jaws
I tame them, clip their nails, brush their hair.
They emit frothy allegories at times
they stab themselves
half-evolved, unadaptable
dying out before the wings had dried
or eyes learnt to see all colours.

This poem chortles and coughs often-
cries too weepily, messily
(It sets my teeth on end.
babbling things I don’t dare to think of)

This poem is
the glide in the crow pheasant
the slickness in a neon nail paint
the whir in the elevator
the triteness of a tea growing cold
in a forgotten table (orange table cloth)
in a forgettable room (pale, cold walls)
in an arbitrary apartment (#32, fifth floor)
in a random street, in an accidental place
this poem is the banality within this specificity.
the primordial craving to shriek out
a bloated blob of nothingness, daisy-fresh, vacuum sealed
a cavity in a chasm.

It has very little to go with-
I’ve plucked out all its feathers
it has survived countless ice ages
a meteor attack, an earthquake.
This poem has been in my pocket for too long
lint, gum and dust sticking to it-
it nicks feebly at my bones
at times does a half-hearted strip-tease
It develops allergies, boils
and a craving for future tenses
it begs to be given a proper noun.
hovering and squawking
trying to get in the shower with me-
rubbing against my feet.
It enters my tongue and sings itself to exhaustion,
converses with my tomorrows,
ingrains into the scheme of things

This poem has held its breath too long
The words suffer from tooth decays-
a pastel, gasping fabrication
too sugary, a low-fat concoction
forced into existence, into meaning something
sentences running off broken bridges and banisterless stairs.
a rain of shining, spluttering mirth
This poem comes
from the protozoa that made it all happen
from the evening news, changing weather
a release of endorphin,
or the simple compulsiveness
of an infant
with a chalk and a wall
the logic of primeval lust.
It is my wound’s way of remembering,
recording, remodelling



First Published by RædLeafPoetry-India
5 poems archived/Published on 10.26.2014

Sharmada Shastry

When lips began gathering dust,

When lips began gathering dust,
pale winters sewn together
flit across the bare walls

We don’t talk. Words find home in the corners of my mouth that can be birthed into being
only in a moment of love. We let the windows rattle and crack open the midnight moon
onto our bed. It is one AM and you hold my shivering jaws together in your palms.
The cold bites away into my bones, denuded of flesh. You excavate your pocket and
fish out a half-smoked cigarette. We break into a smile at the same instance and giggle
like children building sand-castles by the sea.

We look for the taste of water.

We look for anything that can keep us warm
I pull out old sweaters from the shelves,
keepsakes from bygone lovers.

You look around the room,
find nothing
but yourself.

You have given yourself to me. Even in a world that could leave one jaded
and wandering, you leave a parched me tasting dew drops that fall from the underbelly
of a leaf. You teach me things I wouldn’t have learned in the violence of things around me.
We learn how to love in its absence. We learned how to give, by letting go.

As rooms linger in memories,
midnights don’t open
up to
alleys of desire.

Minutes later,
we find ourselves
buried in
bits of teeth
shadow lines.

As morning peels away the night,
the rain softens out the hardness
we have built overnight.

It’s time to leave.
We have bled into each other.

4 Poems -Vinita Agrawal

Invertebrate Beginnings

I wish I could feel right now
what I will feel at the end.

The present is delicate
like a tile-winged moth fluttering over the mind.

Like a yellow sailboat butterfly hovering over a pond:
beautiful but not sunk very deep.

What I want is deep.
That thick bottom of wet earth at the pond’s belly

where the mud tightens over your ankles
in a fist like grip, making you revel in its hold.

So that you know you’re planted in it –
a lotus stem – delirious with feeling’s water.

Either that, or just make me feel now what I will
when all this ends, as it must.

…When I become a spectator to your image
viewing you from two feet away or more.

When memory acquires a bone;
a vertebra of contemplation and hindsight.

All endings taste like dead moths –
flaky, papery, curiously unfinished

especially at the antenna
that go about exploring things not in their realm.


Archived/Published on 10.26.2014
First Published by RædLeafPoetry-India



The lake has entered my mind
A thin, tired saucer of water
flesh colored
as big as the key to the deadlock of thoughts.
I’m not decent.
I’m a forceps birth, untouched by the doctors
or by nurses.
Not rejoiced over.
I made my mother cry inside bottomless nights.
I’m the unheard wail inside every well.
I make gods out of dogs in loneliness.
I memorize the brow of every bus I see
because there’s so much space rolling in my mind.
I’ve seen glow worms glowing greenly
under thin brown skin
beaten black and blue.
I’ve seen a rib cage crushed to powder
under the white thick heels of shoeless men
drunk on their maleness.
I’ve seen my mother
who cried herself to faint sunrises
inside thick bottomless nights, die.
Crushed by my torture
of my bleeding parts
needing forceps again
needing clinical touch, again
Needing no touch, again.
Such a soft lake this is,
this existence…
but you made it so hard.
All I was here
for was some honest to goodness love.
The color of rain.
And I would have bestowed
life to grass
outlines to mountains
shine to leaves
just for love.
But you taught me the language
of blades and wounds.
You taught me silence
as vast as the time it takes for an ocean to become the sky.
Now the flesh colored, tired lake
has entered my mind.
Filled me with a desire to drown.
I shall return when allowed to speak.
When glow worms no longer glow greenly
beneath thin brown skin beaten black and blue.
When sixteen is no age to die.
Until then let me reborn as an annelid
cling lovingly to soil
know the intimacy of give and take
know the wind for what it’s worth.


Archived/Published on 10.26.2014
First Published by RædLeafPoetry-India


November is in my lap like an old shoe
Nowhere to walk, nowhere to go
Tattered, torn, worn, abandoned
Lonely like a forgotten imprint, sinking in the sands of time
November is in my lap like a scraggly wet bird
Shivering, burrowing in my thighs for warmth
When the sun comes out, I will teach it to fly
Until then it gazes me with terrified eyes, makes me cry
November is a milestone
Gathering my surrender in lonely miles
Making an autumn heap of promises, a bonfire of hopes
Its face is creased and wrinkled, its face is blue



Homes have no walls
no rooms, no furniture, no thresholds
Nothing through which you might enter
and nothing from which you might want to exit
Because homes are not houses

Homes are built in the eyes
Erected by naked, hungry hearts
In skies, in dew drops, lichen, mosses,
Sometimes on parched, parted lips
Sometimes inside the darkening irises of your eyes

Homes are tender assembles of empty air
Sorted by the linear breaths you lend to me;
Built for unborn little feet to run
And for smiles to sun themselves on broad porticos

My home is in the centre of your palms
Sunk in the wells of your destiny
That you carry like a liquid in your eyes
Or like an abode in your hand, my very own delta
Between the nine mounds of the universe

Clearing- Priya Sarukkai Chabria

papers this morning I chanced upon
notes made in Lahore  on the Buddha’s sculpted
footprints: two feet long, cracked

and wrapped in hushed museum
glow. (The right’s in Pakistan, the
left in India, a cross –legged gift

of the Partition.) Sandstone
circa 2 BCE found near the mountains
where the Bamiyan Buddhas blew.

Beholding it I had stilled.

This evening’s determined cleaning
spell – done seated in padmasan –bared
my mother’s walking shoes:

beige canvas sprinkled
with plastic flowers of gold,
small and dusty in my hands.

Beholden to the pair I stalled.


Wish like a child: wish wild, wish
time reels back till substance refills relics, wish
cosmic dust seals my brokenness. It’s not

to be. Their bodiless footprints stamp
my ’vain form of matter’ . Imprinted to the core
I look forward and begin to clear my way

into the void


“Oui, je sais, nous ne sommes que de vaines formes de la matière.” –Stéphane Mallarmé in 1866.

Priya Sarukkai Chabria

Priya Sarukkai Chabria is a poet, novelist, essayist and translator with five published books.  Awarded by the Indian Government for her Outstanding Contribution to Literature her works’ translated into six languages & is published in Adelphiana, Asymptote, The Literary Review (USA),  South Asian Review, Caravan , Cha, Post Road, The British Journal of Literary Translation , Drunken Boat,  Pratilipi,  Language for a New Century, The Literary Review,  IQ, Another English: Anglophone Poems from Around the World among others. Forthcoming in 2015 are translations of Tamil mystic poet Aandaal (Zubaan) and a short story collection(Niyogi Book). She edits Poetry at Sangam.


2 poems – Shobhana Kumar


odd man out


five fluted stems

three beer mugs

seven shot glasses

and eleven for

the hardliners

arrange themselves

for my guests,

who will  arrive,

to toast

and leave

smelling of

twenty year caskets

sometimes more,

and all the bouquets

they gathered.

the broken ones

are mine.





into the despair

of lonely dustbins

and large landfills.



rip van winkle



to the front yard

faithfully every

dawn to pour

colours from yesterday’s

dreams into

intricate love

knots and wait

as eager ants

carry them

back home.


all day

until my household

retires and i

wake all


waiting for the colours

to arrive.


that i can only paint

in my front yard.

when i wake

there will be

no house.

but  you

will  find my

colours  in

some ant-hole

tucked away

for a long

winter night.


© Shobhana Kumar. First published by RaedLeafPoetry-India 10/1/2014


Shobhana Kumar

Shobhana Kumar‘s first collection, ‘The Voices Never Stop’ was published by Writers Workshop in 2012. Her second collection is under print. Her work features in several journals and ‘The Dance of the Peacock’, an anthology of contemporary poetry from India, edited by Dr. Vivekanand Jha,.She also has 4 books of non fiction.

Roomful of Lakes – Jennifer Robertson


This Lake is a 600 square feet 2BHK
available for rent on Magicbricks.com. These Lakes are trading
in grasshoppers in the living room. The tall and blue
lakes are breathless in an Armani suit. One Lake
just sent me a Facebook request. That Lake is
luminously wallpapered. The blue Lake is wearing
horn-rimmed glasses and a speckled
moth around its neck. Few Lakes
are Changpa nomads
with their flock of yaks and pashmina goats. Two Lakes are playing
an obscure game on Playstation4. The snow on this Lake’s
coat is beginning to melt in the sun and the kitchen is getting flooded.
That Lake is a faucet and it’s bleeding. Three Lakes
are calling the cops. This Lake is a call
waiting on a smart phone. One Lake delivered
a baby girl. Five Lakes retweeted the Faucet story.

This Lake is walking his dog.

One Lake is on a hunger protest. Three Lakes have body
issues. This Lake is a Rhode Scholar
in a dungaree. Five Lakes will not vote. This Lake
calls himself Baba. This Lake just got laid
off and will default on his mortgage. The Lake in the yoga
pants is warming his pizza in the microwave. A bunch
of Lakes are auditioning for a reality show. This Lake
is a stand-up comedian. That Lake is a venture
capitalist. This Lake is interrupted by a hyperbole.

This Lake is the ghost of other lakes
that were killed
in the womb.

This Lake is not safe in an elevator.

That Lake can’t stand another Lake. This Lake is a Tarkovsky
hangover. That Lake is a salted
caramel mocha at Starbucks. These Lakes work
in a call center. That lake is a journalist
writing erotica. This lake is coming of age
in his pants. That Lake is in a complicated relationship
with his ipad. This Lake is a poem in an ezine. These two Lakes
are secretly fucking each other. That Lake is paid news. This lake
next to the water cooler thinks it’s dawn already. This Lake will die
in an old age home.

That Lake is disappearing like a Houdini trick.

This Lake is a virgin. This Lake is a single
mother. That Lake will have his integrity removed
like a vestigial organ in a hospital. This Lake likes
branded shirts. This Lake is in a desert
at a mall. That Lake is a well-written obituary. These Lakes will migrate
to work in a brick kiln. This Lake has
a prosthetic soul.

These Lakes have more cars than Lakes.

These Lakes are a bunch of
happy meals.
This Lake dares to love
another Lake in this country. This Lake is ashamed
of his surname. That lake is reading Walden.

This Lake is pretending to be a Lake.



Roomful of Lakes © 2013 Jennifer Robertson.  First published by RaedLeafPoetry-India 2013.


Jennifer Robertson

Jennifer Robertson is an erstwhile banker, currently freelancing as a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) consultant in Mumbai. She is a gold medalist with a degree in Education from Calcutta University. Her poems have previously been published by Poetry Chain – a poetry quarterly edited by the eminent poet and critic Gopi Kotoor.  Few of her poems have been published in a poetry anthology by Nivasini publishers. Jennifer’s work is a blitzkrieg of memory and time driven themes veering from confessional prose poems to non punctuated stream of consciousness pieces.  Jennifer lives in Mumbai.

Song of an Outsider – Goirick Brahmachari


Shillong, in forlorn strangers you live
in misty legends, your nights they sing
in deep water lanes of shivering cold
desires and aloneness and stories untold

Who wants to go back to those years of rumours
of curfews, gun shots and black window covers
No we don’t need no shoot at sight
Shillong, we must stop this fight.

Shillong, you gave us memories we store.
Through Janice and Anjum and Rudy, we cull more
Shillong, you live in all of us,
All we hope is to live in you.


© Goirick Brahmachari. First published by RaedLeafPoetry-India 2013


Goirick Bhramachari

Goirick Brahmachari works as a consultant for a policy research organisation in New Delhi India. He hails from Silchar, Assam. His poems have been published or are forthcoming from North East Review, Pyrta Journal, Coldnoon Quarterly and other Indian Journals. He currently serves as the website editor of Four Quarters Magazine.

4 poems- Sohini Basak


It started with matchboxes. On my first collectible I
Recall a black ship sailing, so on the second, its twin found
En route to school. I traded in duplicates. With time,
Memorabilia changed to notebooks. I collected in between:

Eagle’s feathers, shiny wrapping paper, phone numbers,
Magnets, and all those letters addressed to you. Rhyming
Billets-doux, confessionals, pieces of my mind and heart
Engraved in red: ink feelings spilling over the borders.

Realizing that age calls for gravity, it was pebbles
That I started collecting, from everywhere I travelled. I
Had this glorious vision of an old woman me,
Insoluble by a grey sea, skipping stones at dawn.

 Sacrilegiously I have packed away the thingamajigs. In
Memories I trade, to deserted islands I ship them away.
En fete, I made a bonfire with the fire hoarded inside
Matchboxes and those letters to send smoke signals your way.

 Evocative objects these feathers, names of streets have
No real use, they are not magic spells. Penchants
Turn redundant before she who collects souls.
Objects with my fingerprint, address, phone number,

 My name: nothing will pin me to this earth. Death catches
Our souls with a butterfly net. The pebbles I gave back to the
River. At its bottom, my collection grows, grows moss.
I collect boulders now, all things that have weight…


this evening my memory turned translucent
like the bloom of moon jellyfish
we saw behind glass, exactly ten years ago
in an aquarium swim-dreaming neon

or, like the other time, I cannot remember
exactly how long ago, but you were toe-digging
sand on a summer holiday when the coastline
turned plasma out of the slush blue because there
it was trapped, pinned with broken bits of sea-shells
cushioned in brine, dead but refusing to decay

closer home, translucent like the used plastic bag
you let go from your hand yesterday unnoticed
now circling over some ocean yearning to hold
water over the wind mirroring tide swells



I said paper-planes
tied to a string from my curtain rod
looks evocative and invites the wind

You said take them down,
unfold paper wings, write letters
on the creases, and post them in the morning

RL POETRY AWARD 2013 Winner – 2
© 2013 Sohini Basak. First published by RædLeafPoetry-India 2013.
Republishing Rights to be obtained from both the Poet and RædLeafPoetry-India 2013

2 poems- Rohan Chhetri

violence enters a poem like a restless wind inside a burning house

Somewhere near the borders to a warless country
stands the house my grandfather built.
In the ground floor my parents live.
And now, tired by the day’s work, my mother
has already fallen asleep in front of the television.
My father is noiselessly setting up
the mosquito net above the bed.
During the day, the town is rife with revolution,
and they are dreaming of a new state.
They have licked the salt of freedom
and cannot unlearn the taste.

Someone I used to know gets shot
an inch above the ears in a cross-fire.
My mother imitates that foreign tenor people acquire
while breaking news of unfortunate deaths.
His blood is washed off the streets in the winter rain
and drained in the sewage that shares
the common filth of the two nations.

Tomorrow my father will cross the border as usual
and go to work for a bad-tempered man.
He has had it, mother tells me over the phone.
They need to get out of there, I think, but never say it.

The paranoia changes hands
as spring comes on early and I read on the papers
a nation is sending the refugees back to
the country they fled from.
On their way, they stop on their trails
to look for the frostbitten fingers
they lost in the difficult winter of their lives.


Happiness, he decides, is a purer form of nausea.
The universe is written in Braille
To be read only in the interludes.
By interludes he means the grace of summer rains.
The filth of the town guttering down the creek.
The trees suddenly dressed in the first green of Eden.
The light changing every second and no one noticing.
The moderation of the heart is in waiting alone
For the rapture to subside. Young Chopin
Weeping, listening to his mother play the piano
In the long Polish afternoons. It is in knowing that
The important joy, in fact, cannot be shared
At all. Is inconceivably private.
He thinks of the woman and the necessary grammar
Of estrangement. Somewhere an ocean beckons her.
She heeds but doesn’t leave. Yet her body inside a warm car
Moving farther away from him seventy kilometres per hour.
The sound of water, whether clear or murky, is the one
He remembers shimmering in the brooks, as a child.
Him falling asleep clutching the new pain in his fists
Growing more visible against the sound.
Learning the alphabets of longing a little too early.
There are seventeen laws of uncertainty in love,
He decides. He thinks of her body.
Of other bodies beginning to blur against hers.
Because the stubborn heart cannot make love twice.

RL POETRY AWARD 2013 Winner - 1
© 2013 Rohan Chhetri. First published by RædLeafPoetry-India 2013.
Republishing Rights to be obtained from both the Poet and RædLeafPoetry-India 2013


To Dr. Ulfat – Huzaifa Pandit


You are the dazed saffron tinge

Of ripe rusty gentle autumn

That halts suddenly in its labyrinth

Of soft ripe bulging boughs

And crisp crimson leaves,

At the wistful command of

The newly carved crescent

Whose silver halo is

As White as the smooth snow flakes

Of a virgin cozy winter evening.


You are a post-colonial line from Shalimar the Clown

With its conceited metaphors

That slip off the colonized tongue

And fractured rainbows of

Ageless experiments with surprised semantics.

You are Rushdie’s composed punctuation

Each short pause

Pregnant with cocooned silken gratitude

At conceiving twins of

Sapphire happiness and cerulean disbelief.



You are the sour sweetness of

A raw Alphonso mango

Taken with white crystalline salt

That transmits concentric neurons

Of unharnessed joy

From the roused tongue

To the exulting heart

Painted red with red blood and white joy.



You are the beaded words

Of a Nusrat qawali

In chaste colloquial Punjabi-

The Sufi’s defense of the reviled

 Beautiful bored Zulekha –

The ultimate mystic symbol

Of divine erotica.

Each word infuses a fluctuating amplification

Of meditative silence in my receptive being

Though the true meaning

Of each delirious couplet

Escapes possessed me.

© 2013 Huzaifa Pandit.  First published by RaedLeafPoetry-India 2013.

Huzaifa Pandit

Huzaifa Pandit was born in Kashmir and now pursuing his MA in English  from University of Pune. His poetry is a reflection of the impressions that Kashmir has left on him.