Volume 4 Issue 2, June 2020
Special Issue for Indian Poetry
(dedicated to Soumik Dey)
A few drops of neon lights
tinted cherry, lemon, mango-green—
I think of cities I have lived in
and their crowded streets.
Take Mumbai, for instance:
a shot of Raj Kapoor and Nargis
under an umbrella at Marine Drive
in the night rain…
was but a moment in history
immortalized in a song.
Many have loved there in the
long decades hence…me too,
and once while the tide was in
I lost a sequined shoe.
Years have flown by since
my adolescence and what
they call as "prime".
Spring and summer passed me by,
now nearly winter time
as autumn burns my leaves to gold.
Raj and Nargis are dead,
and I am slowly growing old.
Folks I loved have left, some
to the land beyond, where
the dialogue ends.
There is no choice of
to be or not to be—
whether I am you or you are me,
whether you are a rose and I
call you by any other name;
whether the agony is worth
the solace of being a poet,
whether I danced once in
pink suede pumps and drank orange froth
at Colaba causeway's by-lanes…
winter comes nigh, and I presume
the Epilogue is the same.
Love after Love
(with thanks to Derek Walcott)
Love after love I've tasted...
under cerulean skies, a
potpourri of flower-spices
on my tongue.
Love after love I've seen...
with lovers and beloveds
radiant as the morning sun.
Love after love I've touched...
my skin imprinted with
abstract patterns of
Love after love I've lived.
Not a day went in vain
when I've known love
and its sweetest pain.
Matryoshka: a Tale of Love
Hungry matryoshka dolls
can fly in the castles of the air
beckoning my eye
whispering in my ear
with scent of vanilla.
They're hard when a caress I try
but tender to my feeling of silk and sheer .
Pushkin the poet lived in Russia.
(The scent may be of sherry or rum.
Can I change into a purple plum?
I cannot -- oh damn.
If I wear black, I will into a mulberry turn.)
Cevodnya kakoi diyen*?
By the purple plum of love,
I can be as thin as the matryoshka.
Pushkin wins the duel and does not die.
Mahtab (that's me)—she adores Romantic poetry.
Pushkin and Mahtab will marry and make love
with blue kisses in Russian winters.
Pushkin and Mahtab cuddle inside
the bellies of matryoshka dolls.
Ya lublu vac**, Alexander.
The dolls eat us with a smile.
We smell of vanilla and taste of plum.
*Cevodnya kakoi diyen: what day is it today? (Russian)
** Ya lublu vac: I love you (Russian)
A Woman in Love Studies Herself in the Mirror
In the mirror is ripe womanhood
dripping with stars; a Venus who
dreams of being conquered by Mars.
I am adorned with kisses as purple scars.
I like to wear eyeshadows
shading my eyes in green shimmer;
and color my lips to a battlefield of berries
to mask the glimmer of kisses as scars.
I am a woman of autumn. October-born.
My hair is night's black straw.
My neck, my breasts, my navel
and all the rest knows the secret of
bodies bitten raw with scars.
In the mirror, I drip with stars.
I bear the ancient fruit of myriad scars.
I am Venus conquered by Mars.
(With thanks to Amrita Pritam)
I find no distraction in tomes….
the tiniest romance hints
make me ache
for you. Tints of tears
under circle of eyes.
Yearning is a shimmery moon
seen through nets of rain;
when the world is a watercolor
storm depicting devastation.
All because of the trivial
matter of you not being there.
Everybody tells me to forget you,
but I won't listen.
I will meet you again.
About the poet
Jagari Mukherjee holds an MA in English Language and Literature from University of Pune, and was awarded a gold medal and several prizes by the University for excelling in her discipline. Her poems and other creative pieces have been published in different venues both in India and abroad. She is a Best of the Net 2018 nominee, a DAAD scholar from Technical University, Dresden, Germany, a Bear River alumna, and the winner of the Poeisis Award for Excellence in Poetry 2019, among other awards. She won the 2019 Reuel International Prize for Poetry, and the Tagore Literary Prize 2018 for Book Review. Her chapbook Between Pages was published by Cherry-House Press, Illinois, USA, in June 2019. Her latest book to be published is The Elegant Nobody by Hawakal Publishers in January 2020. She is currently pursuing her PhD from Seacom Skills University, Bolpur, India.