At the Indian Museum, Calcutta
Wandering through the corridors,
immense stairways, galleries,
you meet the mnemonics of the past
meticulously arranged on pedestals
and in display cases.
The detritus of centuries, eras, aeons:
fossilized plants, dinosaur bones,
Egyptian mummies, Roman helmets,
Mughal coins, British cannons.
What is left for us in the spindrift
after the fleeting tides have gone?
Hierarchies of dynasties, colonial empires,
the paraphernalia of civilization --
all swallowed, inexorably,
by the quicksands of history.
Drops of dust gather in the eyes,
vacant and unseeing
on the marble busts
of Greek philosophers.
*First published in DeepSouth (University of Otago,
Dunedin, New Zealand). Republished in CONSCIOUS ART
(Sweden/Germany), ARGO BOAT (Belgium)
Taj Mahal, Agra
The dark river, draped
like a clinging wet sari
around the fleshy curves
of rocks and boulders.
Against an indigo dusk
an ethereal balloon,
rises between the trees.
Memory's lambent flame
in marmoreal whiteness,
cool to the touch
of history's hands.
The moon rises,
a curved scimitar
honed to a glitter.
It sheds a milky light
on a marble mausoleum
floating in air.
I try to look at it
with the gaze of an emperor
who has lost his Peacock Throne
to his son,
and his love
to the impermanence of memory.
In Shah Jahan's room, I realize
there is no prison
like a heart
which knows the evanescence
of love and life.
*The Taj Mahal ('Crown Palace'), one of the seven wonders of the world, was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum
for his queen Mumtaz. Mumtaz is said to have asked her emperor if he would love her with the same ardor after her death, to which he had replied that he would make her memory immortal. He was deposed by his son Aurangzeb, who imprisoned him in a room from where he could watch the tomb across the Yamuna river till the end of his days.
This was first published in JEHAT.COM (Bahrain). Republished in
WRITE-AWAY: WAH, DIMSUM (Hong Kong) and ARGO BOAT.
Srinjay Chakravarti is a 34-year-old journalist, economist and poet
based in Salt Lake City, Calcutta, India. His poetry has appeared
in numerous publications worldwide. These include Euphony, The
Melic Review, Eclectica Magazine, The Pedestal Magazine and
Poetry Super Highway. His first book of poems has received an
award from Australia.
Evening, by Hawk
World-viewed incandescence; sun up
under his wings with last quick volley,
slipping through a hole in the sky, lilting
the soon-gray aura without a sound,
an evening hawk appears above us.
From Yesterday he comes, from Far
Mountains only Time lets go of. Under
wings steady as scissors a thermal
gathers, not sure the joy is ours,
or his. It flings him a David-stone
racing the Time-catch at heart,
at our throats. There is so much
light falling down from him,
from wing capture, we feel
prostrate. To look in his eye
would bring back volcano, fire
in the sky, a view of the Earth
Earth has not seen yet. In apt
darkness chasing him, in the
mountains where gorge
and river give up daylight
with deep regret, his shadow
hangs itself forever, the evening
hawk sliding mute as a mountain
climber at his work,
leaving in our path the next
hiker’s quick silence, stunned breath,
the look upward on a frozen
eye and a driftless wing
*first published in Small Spiral Notebook
These dusty scabs of leather
that have stamped their prints
up the chalky moon-dust trails
of Mount Fuji;
clanged down the iron stairs of
the Eiffel Tower;
rode with the vampires the dank
underground bowels of midnight London.
These mangled hide straps,
that over the years have finally
rounded to the shape of my foot,
a feeling I’ve learned to trust,
like a best friend who knows what I’m thinking;
these boots that have delivered me through
the best and worst unerringly to my front door;
these boots she demands I remove before I
set one foot inside this house.
Time Is Mortal
Time, for me, was never an Einsteinian concept
born of big bangs or galactic singularities.
Time has no meaning to a stone or a star.
Time is a flesh and blood thing that
ends when that bus broadsides your hybrid,
rolling you into an aluminum coffin;
when the blood clot in your leg
races to your brain like a biological bullet.
Time will end long before the stars burn out,
leaving no one to hold hands under their soft light.
Then one by one those lonely stars will wink out,
each one the proverbial tree in the forest,
perhaps having never existed at all.
But before we let them go alone
to their inevitable deconstruction,
let's count each and every one. Let's
eat fresh fruit in our favorite cafés;
float through museums of the world
to gaze for a moment at every painting;
Watch people breathing, tasting, asking
questions, guiding children by the hand, wiping
away tears that evaporate into warm salt
that must someday return to the stars it came from.
Someday, but not this day.
Today those stars are peeking out as the sun sets.
I walk home, eyes skyward,
contemplating the visions of fuzzy-haired professors.
Christopher Vera wrote, "I am the author of several books of poetry, most of which are still in my head, and none of which have ever been published. Poetry allows me to document my universe: the natural, the unnatural and the supernatural. My work has appeared in Ship of Fools, Heliotrope, Apex and Abyss, and the Magee Park Poet’s Anthology. I can always be found at Mystic Nebula (http://www.mysticnebula.com)."
I drink you at night, your golden hair, Shimaleth,
your ashen face like bloodless wine. I drink you
three steps from the door of the quiet house,
my tongue touching the bottom of your dress.
Will you come with me to dig the officious grave?
Your hair sweeps dirt from the rock as I gauge
how deep I must be buried to guarantee silence.
We must hurry; at daybreak the guards come in force.
We are hours and years from Feyzabad and the market
in Khorog where I met your gaze with insolence.
I wish I had jabbed the earth on that spot and remained
rooted in the hope that there was meaning in your eyes.
You will laugh at the words I speak: the slurred speech
through broken teeth is not unlike a drunken monologue.
I drink you, your intoxicating hair, and I murmur
meaningless words that only you might think sane.
The big wheeled trucks pass me.
The soldiers’ eyes are locked, they cannot
keep their color without entering sunlight.
They become ours then, withered by fear.
The big wheeled trucks pass from the compound.
Their treads are outlined in glutinous lime.
They have crossed the trench of the dead.
Cloth from the bodies is caught in their bumpers.
They wish to be tigers, but instead are rodents
and we, we circle closer with weighted nets.
The harvest this morning shall be rich.
To the soldiers I sing an ancient folk song:
Two men on the road to Samangan
Rest in the shade and loosen their burden
The waves of Ahmed’s robes billow in the wind
As I sing with the knowledge of the soldiers’ deaths,
Kept safe in my crystalline voice-
I have felt their freedom fossilize my body.
Ahmed pushes the trigger and explodes.
Two men brightly burn in a boat
Whose sail lightly floats to Samangan
Andrew Grossman’s poem, “The Efficient Nurses of Florida ” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has been widely published and anthologized. Grossman’s new book is 100 Poems of the Iraqi War. He resides with his wife, Nancy Terrell, in Palm Beach Gardens , Florida .
frightened by the geese
follow the wind
to the safety of the shore
They tearfully fall
onto the grass
beneath the willows
-- who have seen this all before.
Tom Deiker has published articles, essays, short fiction and poetry in several dozen publications, including Cimarron Review, Fugue, Galaxy, Newsweek, and Plain Dealer Magazine.
Just kids, racing around the playground
Mary Hill off to the side, tattered dress,
Worn shoes, mismatched socks, stringy hair
everything about her said wrong side of the tracks
For a week or more, every lunch hour on the playground,
the pack moved , finding its victim with cool efficiency
Mary Hill has cooties! Get her! Mary Hill has cooties!
They chased her and she ran
some threw sticks, most just taunted
She tried to hide, never sought the oblivious teacher
across the playground
On the day her mother complained we were called out of
our room, all the boys in the class, lined up in the hall,
The principal towering over us, our hearts pounding,
our teacher at his elbow
Just then the teacher saw me, said
he isn’t one of them, he’s a good boy, he’d never do such a thing
I was excused, sent back to the classroom
With the door not quite closed I could hear the principal raging,
knew fear in every breath from the safety of my seat
The rest of the day the good boy paid close attention, behaved
perfectly, spoke to no one, my insides clenching again and again
For each time my lips had formed the words on the playground with
the rest of them
Thomas D. Reynolds
For a cut on bare feet,
It was a dash of turpentine.
A sour stomach warranted
A snip of ginger on the tongue.
For midnight cough an onion poultice
Rubbed on the chest.
A touch of the gout,
The absence of fatback and hog jaw
For two straight days.
Depression in late afternoon
When the sun sank into the Ozark hills
Received a splash of spring water on the face.
Maybe a walk to the end of the dirt road
Rutted by sawmill trucks.
Moving a hand across new cut wood,
Feeling the dust between two fingers.
Sensing that trace of iron at the back of the tongue
And repeatedly spitting into a crack in the earth.
For the death of a young son
No salve or poultice could touch,
Staring into space
Walking to the door
And glancing into timber
As if someone was calling.
Trying to recognize his hand
Atop the kitchen table.
And always that taste of iron.
January Night at the Folks
With the furnace out
And snow in the forecast,
They huddle around the wood stove
And journey into 1897.
The surrounding houses dissolve,
Leaving a thin horizon of white plains.
Wind lurks around the timber,
Drawn by the lantern light,
Howls echoing into the ravines.
Like a gray horse gaunt with starvation,
The bare oak branch nuzzles the window pane,
Begging for sustenance.
How did pioneers stay engaged
On such a night?
Could the same collection of stories
Suffice to stem the tide of loneliness?
Could imagination surge yet again
To create a new even if wholly fabricated tale?
Perhaps contrary to history,
The pioneer’s fortitude was not fully tested
By flood, famine, and deprivation.
Only by such a dark night of the soul,
Glancing into the countenance of a spouse
Who has fitted the last puzzle piece
And now stares into your face,
Daring you to be interesting.
Into the Valley
Our troops will trudge from Germany
to the pyres of Bosnia,
to join another ancient war
that’s only waiting to resume
the feast on flesh of innocence.
There nestless birds have lost their songs.
Hatred dances on the parapets
of fortresses of vengeance,
where our young men will be sacrificed
on altars of atonement, thirsting their blood.
There limbless children have no playmates.
Moslem, Christian, east, west,
kings and sultans lead their followers
into the chaos of sword, rifle, missile,
blessed instruments of destruction
improved over the ages for pleasure.
Ambushers lurk on the highways,
searching for omens.
Gary Beck's poetry has appeared in dozens of literary
magazines. His chapbook, The Conquest of Somalia,
will be published by Cervena Barva Press. His recent
fiction has been published in numerous literary
magazines. His plays and translations of Moliere,
Aristophanes, and Sophocles have been produced