Sayan Aich Bhowmik is Assistant Professor of English at Shirakole College ( affiliated to the University of Calcutta). When not under the burden of answer scripts and meeting deadlines, he can be found nurturing his love for movies, writing and poetry. A published poet, he is also the editor of the blog Plato’s Caves, a semi-academic space for discussion on life, culture and literature.
Last April I had to Google you out and
Search your address on an App,
Designed to recover forgotten taste and smells.
Your neighbourhood was a country of
Broken lines on a badly drawn map.
The lanes had dates on them,
Bellowing out memories like
A colonel giving orders.
Like tracing a naked body for the first time
I followed the narrow roads
Into a civil war, into refugee camps
Into check posts where they search women with care.
And deal with men with no foreskins.
The bylanes take me to a whorehouse
Filled with such sadness between the pillows
You’d think twice before entering the women.
It is in those lanes that I lost you
But that’s Okay I guess.
After I had logged out
I just couldn’t find myself.
Not on maps
Not in the mirrors.
There in salamanca
Lived a man who sold pistachios
And fine muslin.
With his bottle of potions
You could see the
Milky Way crystal clear.
During warm summer nights
When horses ran to their imaginary homes
And a strange sad light kept
Dripping from the stars
Our man from Salamanca
Would play on his violin
A song about peasants
Sleeping empty stomach.
About streets without names
About mirrors that no longer
Show our hidden faces
About train whistles heard at the dead of night
About nights that refuse to end
About ends that refuse to begin.
Such songs are no longer sung
Our man from Salamanca
Has gone with the horses
Only that sad light from the stars
Christopher Stolle’s poetry has appeared most recently or is forthcoming in the “Tipton Poetry Journal,” “Flying Island,” “Branches,” “Indiana Voice Journal,” “Black Elephant,” “The Poetry Circus,” “Smeuse,” “The Gambler,” “1932 Quarterly,” “Brickplight,” “Medusa’s Laugh Press,” and “Sheepshead Review.” He works as an acquisitions and development editor for Penguin Random House, and he lives in Richmond, Indiana.
For W. E. B. Du Bois
Rise up from Harlem, you ancient soothsayer.
Lay down your mystic vernacular for us to witness.
Lay into us with your weary-boned cries
for justice and reverence and togetherness.
You may feel tired, but you have support
for your vision, your calm, your fuse.
Light into us with your fiery mantras.
Enlighten us about darkened souls
and crushed dreams and lonely love.
Shine down upon us, poetic preacher,
and let your choir lift you serenely
toward embracing your almighty hopes.
Poetry is our deity, and you’ve saved us
from bounding through our days without regard
for those around us, within is, beside us.
You have gone, but your words, stamped
in books and in memories and in other voices,
will push us to realize your peace promise.
(after watching a program on German television about exorcisms on young girls)
buried in Hitler’s eyes
burning like winded candles
but turning colder
as young girls sleep,
awakening in tears
bleeding like wounds
as they swell,
but these girls stay silent,
hoping for someone
to eradicate their doubts
making them talk aloud—
defying their edicts—
guiding their prayers when
they need answers
to questions about echoes
that now scream—
and they haven’t any
hint about sounds
they make during lonely
when some find themselves
trying to defeat a Devil
who gave heartache
to their now-grieving mothers,
and fathers talk
about their daughters
who want to escape
from what’s inside their skin—
except it’s healing,
trapping holy wars within
precious young virgins
who grew up with faith
for Heaven’s hearts,
but bright flesh turns
as they infinitely burn
on imaginary crosses
to sacrifice their love
for morbid hatred,
consuming their desire
to give love,
but choice has been taken
from their hands,
although their soul direction
was to horizons
where they could forfeit
for untainted beginnings
to fresh lives
where Forgiveness cradles them
but they became led astray
where anything goes as nothing
repeated against moral mortals
who seemed gullible—
like these timid girls
who once laughed
and would smile in every photo
because it was appropriate,
and no one knew their struggle—
until they shook
and someone found them shaking,
dripping with scars.
Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon previously worked as a Probation Officer, a Mental Health Social Worker and a Practice Educator in the NHS. She lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been published on web magazines and in print anthologies. These include Fiction on the Web, Stepaway,Poets Speak (whilst they still can), Three Drops from the Cauldron, Obsessed with Pipework, Picaroon, Amaryllis, Algebra of Owls and Riggwelter. She has recently completed her MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University. She believes everyone’s voice counts and intends to work with hard to reach groups after graduation. She intends to grow old disgracefully
After Paul Nash’s painting, ‘Sunset: Ruin of the Hospice, Wytschaete 1917’. This is held at the Imperial War Museum. Nash was a war artist in WWI and WWII and he was a surrealist. Traumatised after WW1, he suffered a breakdown that lasted for four years.
Blaze through me,
quicken my blood
and madden my reason.
Surge into my belly,
shift my gravity.
Tell me what I know,
that I know I should not.
That no-one ever should.
Arathy Asok hails from Kerala, India and works as assistant professor in English at the Government Victoria College Palakkad. She has had her poems published in various national and international journals.
Woman, bala, at an evening on the road
I saw you across the road
in the store, the veg market, crossing the road,
I see you look at me
I see me look at you
I watch you with all that I have lost and hope not to regain
I see you with all I could have done
I see you
And I forget what I see
Because it disturbs me so.
Dark feet in rubber hawai chappals
Bata, paragon, lunar, or one got for twenty rupee a pair
The nails brown, broad, chipped, grotesque.
There are maps on the white flesh
Blue prints of foot left to rust
And between the fingers the earth, rich, brown,
With blades of leaf that looks at the sky
In the eyes, years of sights
Of looking at the sky for rain
At the parched earth for water
Feeling the silk rustle of green paddy fields
Turning to gold with the rolling months.
The men with rolling buttocks walk ahead of me
Their legs swathed in cheap leather polished to sparkle
Young shoulders are straight and the faces shaven clean
Light blue and grey, creased pressed trousers.
What are you a world apart?
The bullock cart passed you by in the roads that you never saw.
It is darkness now.
I have closed the door.
The rooms are empty.
There is no dust.
There is silence and nothingness to keep company.