The Blue Nib

 

Jayant Kashyap lives in live in Purnea, India, and he is the co-founding editor of Bold + Italic, with poems published around the world in quite a few print anthologies and e-zines, including The Ekphrastic Review, StepAway and Rigorous magazines. One of his poems was featured in the Healing Words award ceremony in London, in September 2017. His debut chapbook, titled ‘Survival’, is coming up from NY-based Clare Songbirds Publishing House. An admirer of stark literary expressions. A lover of gothic architecture. A young critic, reviewer, and an activist at heart.

Lisa Stice is a poet/mother/military spouse, the author of two poetry collections — Permanent Change of Station(2018) and Uniform (2016) — and a Pushcart Prize nominee. Among other things, she volunteers as a mentor with the Veterans Writing Project, as an associate poetry editor with 1932 Quarterly, and as a contributor for The Military Spouse Book ReviewAnd while it is difficult to say where home is, she currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, daughter and dog.”
 
In describing this collaboration Jayant Kashyap says, We are a little over 13,000 kilometres apart, and we’re actually very thankful to the internet for helping us keep up with each other’s drafts of the same poem. While it can be said that our manner of editing is sort of loose, we try to make sure that our personal opinions are known to each other — that any poem reaches its final stage only after each of us is sure that the poem has actually reached the very stage. For that, we comment on each other’s words and usually make changes to the draft that comes from the other side in a raw manner.
The most we try is to not drag any poems uselessly, so almost after every stanza is added, the poem is gone through wholly again — this, I think, helps us keep the two heads that we have in a synchronised manner; for which each of us reads the other’s individual poems too.
Also, I think, geography, all the same, has helped us more us with words: our differences help us create a different world altogether when we are in need of one.

 

A Soldier’s Christmas

Tell me what happens when your knees
dip in our snow-clad boundaries before
[we meet on] Christmas

How was it welcomed before? —
with Dickens’s ‘Merry Christmas’ or pain;
or pride of having faced before the Big Day
something that not everyone does

Tell me what happens when your legs
buckle beneath the weight you carry before
[we meet on] Christmas

And when you return with presents, Lily saves
most of her pocket-money to buy for you
crepe bandages and paraffin wax — her Christmas!

She occasionally asks how you’d be, while
I light candles in the windows — all
the superstitions followed before
[we meet on] Christmas

Would you regret if the world forgot you after
all this? Also, do the spiders make webs
in snow? — tell me but one thing that relates us
when you are away, if not memories.

 

Acknowledging

a child’s bones grow
her face changes
a seascape recorded
with shutter speed
and aperture still
looks unreal, untamed

a dog is like a shadow
at my heel or moving with
the sun; a dog looks
into my eyes and in that
moment we speak
the same language

a man laces his boots
and walks out a door
for the 4562nd time
and for the 4562nd time
he returns tired
but he returns

until he returns, I lay
awake at night — discomfort
they say; the only light
in my room put off
sometimes I hear the flapping
of insect wings, desperate

until he returns, the same
insect sometimes burns
its wings in candle flame,
becomes smoke;
sometimes acknowledges it,
parts apace

the same dog stops
barking; stops wagging
his tail, now only a tuft
of cotton on the rear
— sometimes glossy
but hardly moving

the same child
now a little grown up
has learnt clicking her
heels together — a ritual
in anticipation, the rhythm of
which I don’t understand

a neighbour is like two
black eyes, in surveillance — two
failed black eyes, he looks
through the translucent window
glass, the weather inside observes
permanent change, everyday

 

Star-gazing

As if sharing a secret that never was the world’s,
the night-sky a haven to words unkempt
spoken through unmoved muscles
looking the stars right in each eye, unstirring

An unoccupied roof, save for a body that lies
still and the world — tangled, but untrustworthy
for secrets to keep — the night-sky orders
itself into formations with The Great Bear

Hungry and The Hunter with his bow string
stretched with arrow ready, the stars know
what they want just like a mind shaping
verse plucked from this night, dreaming quietly

Parting

When on days you leave after kissing
her cheeks — for months you say! —
I send with you words, some are prayers,
which I suggest you tell like rosary beads

While cicadas sing their hymns,
may tea cool in your cup,
may your eyelids grow drowsy
in dreaming, may you think of me
so far away perched on the good
side of every battlefield as I fill
notebooks with your name,
a strategy of repetition.

Every bead a word, every word
a memento. Something that you keep
close, always, like god, like
prayers, every word a prayer.

 

Share this content.

Read Next
Well, as you will see from Dave’s article, this is the…