Volume 4 Issue 2, June 2020
Special Issue for Indian Poetry

Sinchan Chatterjee

See-Saw

 

 The God and the Human

(In me)

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,

The God

Rises

And soars

Until the sun

Is a halo around his head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asphyxiation

  

The infinites between us

Diminish

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chimney-Sweeper

 

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.

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Waking up

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foreign Words

 

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.

 

Not even

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.

 

Unnecessary syllables,

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rebirth

 

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.

logo erothanatos

Published by The Alternative.