For Fall Poetry Event: I Don’t Live in This Language Anymore

Three poems for the Poetry Salon by Prajakta Paranjpe

I don’t live in this language anymore 

that was the medium
of my youthful rebellion
when rising from the mediocre
towards a better expression
seemed a reality one could live
within the context of a language-

Foreign words, opening up worlds
I could not have imagined before
Belles at balls, trimming their hats
Dancing like the daffodils
That Wordsworth saw.

But now I know what daffodils actually look like
I’ve been transplanted
While my roots are somewhere else
I cannot run away from them
that I might yearn to live a different life.
Cannot feel defined, or confined
By their dictums on conscience

My grafted thoughts
Are journeying downward, where it all began
It’s changing colors- of
What I wrote, and write.
Sensing a different air that I breathe,
Unpredictable- the motion.
Unknown- what I own
what I am owned by.



Poetry is not self-absorption –
wallowing in epiphanies of pain
Poetry is not masochism-
wrenching itself to make meanings.

Poetry is not a mood
of incubated fragrances
Poetry is not paper
chewed on- year after year.

Poetry is freedom from grammar
That a line must turn just so
Poetry is freedom from fate
That a life, must turn just so
Poetry is freedom from convention
From logic, yet also from equivocation

Poetry is a moment imbued with solitude
When mind looks in the mirror with nonchalance
And heart, holds its breath
While words break,
A thunderstorm
Suddenly pours on to a parched silence.
The V word

Growing up a girl was never easy,
The v-word was hushed up,
By mothers, who got queasy
See They tell you it’s special,
Guard it like your life, or more.
But don’t discuss it, keep it hidden.
Don’t let it speak for itself,
Or do you want to be called a whore?
Vaginas are vulnerable
Vaginas are precious
Except when on periods
Stay away! You’re obnoxious.

I don’t remember discussing
Hair or skin like that, or, say the earlobe
Just one tiny revelation,
But it still spun my globe
And binaries dawned on me
Men and women
Brain and body
The creation of a whole, ancient
Now internalized dichotomy.

And so since then
My vagina and I are in a tumultuous relationship at best
And yes, I know I’m supposed to think I’m blessed
With the great responsibility to create life
But beware, never be yourself –
Be a daughter, mother or wife

No wonder I’m equal parts proud, and jealous
Seemingly nonchalant, but mostly zealous.
Because vagina is still on the frontlines
As if it were the only source
Of pleasure as well as pain.
So much progress,
but the attitude is retained.

Every time it’s brought up, I’m taught to reign in,
So I’ve never known of a neutral position-  in between –
Legs. Like penises. Hanging out carefree,
Smack in the middle of the male body.

Eden was when Eve had not discovered
Her vagina, or what it means to have a lover
The snake of course. Demonized, and crushed.
And now she’s stuck with Adam forever!

And Adam, he’s not straightforward
Like the animal kind
His power hungry progeny locked up vaginas
Because they failed to lock up the mind.
Claimed them in love, claimed them in war
Claimed their freedom, left them a scar

And so I wish we could still go back
And just let it be
Just a part, not a whole entity.
Not anyone’s final destiny.
Not a goddess nor a pussy
Not a power not a curse
Not a bag not a purse
I want it stripped
of symbolism and analogy

I want it called by its name- a vagina
That’s just what it means to me. 






दिल है, महफ़िल में भी तनहा हो सकता है 

जो पाया था, वही अक्सर खो सकता है 


जाँ से जाते जाते हमने ये समझा 

बारिश में पत्थर को देखो, रो सकता है 


जज़्बातों के मौसम खिलतेढलते रहें 

पर यादें  तो हर कोई पिरो सकता है 


अपनी ख़ताएँ गिनने वाले कम हुए 

पर हम जो कर गुजरे, किससे हो सकता है!


दर्द को सुननेवाले ढूंढे, पर ना मिले 

ख़ुशियों का बाज़ार लगा है, वो सस्ता है 


तुमसे उम्मीदें तो थीं पर फिर सोचा 

उम्मीदों से हारे कैसा वो रिश्ता है?


दोस्त नहीं हैं दिल की खाली गलियों में 

एक बार उजड़ा जो दिल – wo कब बसता है?


हमसे पूछो मत हालदिल अपनी कहो

प्यारा लगता है वो शायर जो हँसता है 


काश ये सपना सूख ही जाये गुल की तरह 

कागज़ के पन्नो में सिमटा सो सकता है




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