Volume 4 Issue 2, June 2020
Special Issue for Indian Poetry
The God and the Human
Play see-saw all day
To see which one outweighs the other:
The human self sins and repents,
And the God self forgives and smiles
And washes the slate clean;
It's a ritual. They do it every day.
Until one day
The weight of the sins is so heavy,
It dries up all the mercy
In God's pocket,
And with a dull thud
The human side
Crashes onto the ground,
Then into it,
And digs a hole -- so deep
It reaches the womb of Brahma.
On the other end of the see-saw,
With the supplicant's sacrifice
On bowed knees
At His altar,
Until the sun
Is a halo around his head.
The infinites between us
As our worlds draw closer,
Your universe and mine:
Our stars dance together
And our planets play music.
Then they collide and crash and break.
We are lucky
To have escaped the cosmic stampede
With breath in our bones
And blood in our flesh,
And we will spend our whole life
Guarding that fleeting breath,
Like a glass case covering a candle
To protect its wick from the wind
But suffocating it with too much love.
I tie a rope around my stomach
And ask to be lowered again.
I hang in the air
And wipe the four sides of the walls with care:
One layer at a time.
I sing myself a song
As I go lower and lower,
Starting from the top
Scratching the surface,
Every day I see new depths
I scrub and scrub,
I toil and toil.
Sometimes I get crushed
Between the narrowing walls.
Someday I will reach the bottom
Having swept it clean
All the way to the ground.
I am journeying through my mind
And all the darkness that has gathered
From years of ungrateful, exhausting use.
I run my fingers gently
And dream of buried memories.
Nothing passes here except for fire
Nothing stays except for soot and ash.
The Eternal Postman
Each moment is a baton,
A parcel I must deliver,
A letter I must carry
In my beak
From the past
To the future.
The only time I can call my own
Is between the picking up
Of the feathery gift
And the setting down
Of the wingéd weight.
I am alarmed out of my sleep
After a night of dreaming
Which seems like a few seconds in Paradise.
Like bird-shit, I find myself
Dropped on earth again
(Enacting a daily lapse) ---
I collapse into a sanity that seems mad to me.
Afraid of being seen naked
And terrified of not being seen at all,
I wear my language like a robe:
Recall the sound of words and greetings and
Brush my smile and take on my body
I put my muscles to ignition and
Drive myself to the car
I console myself with photographs of my forefathers
Who found solace in this daily trade
And would be proud of me if they were here.
On my way to work
I mourn the freedom of those who sleep all day
In railway platforms and under road-bridges,
As I hawk my madness bit by bit:
I dig drains to guide its flow into a sanitary pit.
I bury my screams in jokes and dreams
To remember I am sane.
Under the Broken Bridge
He sits stooping with his arms folded
In the shady corner under the half-broken bridge.
No vehicles pass through anymore.
He has once felt the pulse of the city throbbing through its veins,
Now numbed, now dead.
He sees another diabolic lash of the cosmic fang
As a lightning flash lights up the world in violet.
He prays and waits for the dark to return, like for an old friend.
He wishes to be forgotten, drenched or drowned.
The first drop leaks through the crack and shuts his eye blind
He goes to sleep without praying for tomorrow.
In his next birth, he hopes to be a crop
So the sky can be his roof and he may learn to love the rain.
I am the meaning of sound and
You are the ear that listens.
These words that carry me to you
Bend and twist and break down on the way
Burdened by my weight.
These words that are foreign to me
Not guarded beyond fences or blocked by borders
In mystic lands
Not shipped with cargo
Or dragged by the hair from the shore like slaves
Not bought at fairs or sold at markets
Nor exchanged like prisoners ---
No seas between us, no mountains in the way.
Far away from the reach of my own tongue
But because they're all too close
Just hovering around the edges
Of the circle
At the centre of which I reside.
Always closing in but forever outside
Enveloping the silence.
An imposition on the silence
Like paint, that,
Trying to fill the empty space,
Ruins the infinite blankness
Of the canvas
With one fixed picture.
Give me more
Of that truth, that truth
That sacred truth.
Let me drink it, pour it, bathe in it,
This feathery crystal flake of hot snow.
Love without fear, think without edge.
Then light the wick in the ass of each firecracker
That is a thought inside your head.
Fly the rockets to the moon
And watch them explode into
A thousand colourful fountains,
Streams of light flying all around
Blessing the black empty canvas
With a few seconds of fire,
A magical shooting star that shatters
Into a thousand shards.
Watch yourself under that light
And know how small you are, how unimportant.
Tonight you will dream of thanking
The darkness of the cloud with no silver linings.
Kill yourself each moment,
Then be reborn.
Practise this art until you master it ---
When no part of you
Grieves anymore for the daily death,
Knowing it is a ritual, today's
Sacrifice that is the price for tomorrow's life,
Then you will know the value of each breath.
Pick your bags and set sail, the horizon awaits you.
As you move, she shifts, drawing you closer.
Only the truest swimmers get to drown knowing
(No matter how great the swimmer)
The tide has never been in favour of any man.
About the poet
Sinchan Chatterjee (an alumnus of St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, and the Deaprtment of English, Jadavpur University) is an Indian poet/ author. His previously published works include In Search of a Story (a collection of twenty short stories) and two collections of poems, titled Plato in a Metro (published by Writers Workshop, Kolkata) and War of the Roses (published under the WordIt Art Fund).
Guilty when he writes only for himself, and conceited when he dares to believe his poems have the power to change the world, Sinchan often struggles to find the ‘why’ behind everything (even writing itself). Writing helps him remember things he would otherwise have forgotten, like his sister’s birthday, or all the evanescent worlds that spring up magically inside his head and then float away and evaporate. Sinchan likes to close his eyes and see himself as an old, bearded drunkard, roaming around naked in an island far away from people and numbers and names and the clutches of civilization, chanting out poems and smiling to himself.