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

Urvashi Mukherjee

Eid/Steel

 

They told us it was Eid yesterday,

A day of celebration,

Of love.

But someone had put out the lamps in the skies,

And whole valleys lay darkened,

Alone.

 

In the happy din of the city

It is easy to forget,

Jobs keep us drowsy,

Like pills -

They regulate the (hormonal) balance of hypocrisy in our veins.

Enough to get by

While still pretending to care,

Or not.

 

Violence, like soup, simmers,

Just beneath the surface,

Slowly coming to a boil.

 

They told us it was Eid yesterday,

You pretended to smile and greet your friends,

But the steel in your eyes shines through.

At night,

The elves come to harvest it

They carve barbed wires out of it,

It is so strong, so beautifully resilient,

They say.

The barbed wires are laid out across the night sky,

Little spokes crucifying a valley of stars -

 

But the dead do not scream,

But the dead do not bleed,

But the dead cannot die again.

 

And so,

Nobody notices,

Amidst the buzz and din of the city

With their (hormonal) balances in perfect hypocritical harmony.

 

They told us it was Eid yesterday,

And we obliged, believing and greeting passersby,

Smiling gregariously at the moon -

Contentment (and steel)  dripping from our eyes,

That couldn't even see in the neon haze -

 

That the stars had bled their light out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Insomnia

 

The darkness presses on the glass

Urgent,

Old friend from the plains

Asking to be let in -

Wind blows, from a faraway sea

Where have we

Been?

You ask as if an answer could ever appear

In this cave

Between our skin and bone!

 

Morning washes over us like water

Touching the dead tea leaves in a strainer

Whatever may have remained

Is diluted

Little rivulets of us

Flowing into the sewers,

Spent.

When they went

Their ways last fall,

It was all

We could do to keep her from jumping

Tut. Tut.

What a waste

The neighbouring crows nod

In conspiring agreement

The tired telephone wires

Sag

Like my old-lady parts.

 

The night

And the old friend

Have managed to creep into the room

Subtly

Like the sea or the boy

Crept into my words

And really

They keep asking too much

Of us

Like sagging-wire crows

I have forgotten how to enunciate

Our syllables

How to punctuate

Our scars

They climb onto the carpet,

Solid and real and unimaginary

Scar-shaped holes in the universe.

 

I wait for morning to arrive

And wring the tea

Out of me

Friend, scar and night,

Ever polite, oblige.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Jazz

 

You keep returning,

Like revolution or an insistent crow,

And yearnings

Fairy-lights in a small-town fair

Come and go,

Come and go.

 

If tomorrow should be real

Maybe we will see the boats again

As they set off

Fireflies in the river's pleats.

 

I wonder how many defeats

You must swim past

To reach peace.

 

We must negotiate a cease-

fire with the spring.

Lest she bring us too many revolutions,

Or crows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jagged-ish

 

You're a lonely house.

And a broken teacup wilting within its walls.

Don't touch it.

 

The edges of memory are always jagged

It slices through skin (or eyes) like butter.

Eyelids fluttering -

 ( In sleep or death)

 

I have imagined myself a seagull,

With only the waves to beat against my soul.

 

Teacups

have a way

of smelling of the people who held them

Long after the afternoon sun has melted into the gloom.

 

In the forest

The lights have flown away,

The fireflies,

They're too tired to stay.

They make their way

Into the blue.

You

Must watch

And wait

And wallow

You're no seagull after all.

 

Your roots will weave your pain into the earth.

 

 

 

 

About the poet

Urvashi Mukherjee likes to identify as someone who loves engaging with the written and the spoken word in a variety of ways. A student of Literature, she has completed her Masters in English from Presidency University. Even though her first love is poetry, Urvashi is currently engaged as a freelance content writer and is involved in organizing social welfare activities as a part of a youth movement. Her poetry has previously been published in a variety of e-journals and little magazines. Down the years, she has also been involved in curating and organizing spoken word activities such as debates, poetry and prose slams, public speaking workshops and more across the city of Kolkata.

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Published by The Alternative.