Lullaby, a Haibun
by Gayatri Lakhiani Chawla
Some days are all about the womb and its emptiness which gnaws her entire being. Those days she sits crouched in the corner of her bathroom, trying to pick up the broken pieces and pacify her wild mind from becoming a beast. White orchids are used to grace a grieving heart, she wears ivory those days to protest against destiny but secretly she abhors her body. Her frail body punctured like a voodoo doll looks at the mirror for answers, the night before she dreamt she was blessed with a child by Mother nature, today she bleeds her dream to sorrow. ‘You wound me’ she says in a vile tone staring at herself,
healing takes time
by Mallika Bhaumik
There is a lost language
for some undeciphered sorrow
they are like small changes
often lying like the last remaining swig
at the bottom of the glass
as we move on to mourn other losses,
a death, a diagnosis or a betrayal
Purple is their color,
unwept memories of some lost trinket, some unanswered call
missing marbles of childhood,
or selling away of grandfather’s favorite gramophone,
poetry of Agha Shahid Ali on windswept monsoon nights.
I have some such stories forming an archipelago in my heart,
they do not dissolve like the sunset hues
they have no closures at all,
and it is for them that every year
I fall in love with the colors of the fall.
by Anu Mahadev
You were never one for sewing sutures,
that was someone else’s
responsibility, a word, too heavy for you,
something you’ve probably never had to hold.
Except you can’t always delegate.
Not every ember you trigger can be doused by a reassuring
“It’s not you, it’s me.”
Everything has a rule. You don’t play by the rules.
Everything is an art. You rarely color within the lines.
Some may find that admirable. Some may find it reckless.
And most of us are left to pick up the pieces of your ego.
It’s simple, you see.
You hone in for the kill, the thrill of the chase.
You own, break, scatter, disperse.
Like dice thrown on a board.
Who cares where they land, as long as the game goes on.
You’re quick to move on – the next target of the hunt.
While we stumble on, apply that runny mascara, put on the makeup mask.
Anything with a semblance of the new normal.
That’s the thing about closure.
Those who have it, rarely ever give it.
And those who don’t, seldom get it.
The best we can do is a patched-up job,
tribute to our embroidery classes,
close up our insecurities, pretend to be ok.
While inside us, nothing is ever the same.
A heart, that organ that hurts,
morphs into something else,
forever changed by a botched surgery.
Ode to New Love in Middle Age
by Nalini Priyadarshni
There is no anti-aging more potent than a young lover
bursting with lust for your middle age vulnerability
who pulls you out of rut with his arduous banter
and make you whole again with his benevolent smirk
You manage to tuck chaos behind your ears and
pack pieces of your train wrecked self
inside your crimson underwire pushup brassiere
steal glances at his freckled face like the sailor
puzzling perpetually over capricious constellations
to navigate through all fourteen degrees of love
Despite all promises you make to yourself
hoyam sneaks in after gharam
another word for attachment in Arabic.
A love that burrows deep and suffocates
dies on its own but if it ruins you, it ruins you.
Like those flowers that change colour upon pollination
you know when to let them go
but if they stay put long enough
they can watch you unfurl.
All new beginning are sheathed in painful endings
A published poet, freelancer and French teacher from Mumbai, Gayatri holds a Masters in Commerce from Mumbai University, Degree from Alliance Française de Bombay and International Diploma in Teaching from University of Cambridge. Her poems have been published in international anthologies and periodicals such as American Poetry Anthology, The Indian P.E.N., The Brown Critique, The Journal of the Poetry Society (India), The Bombay Review, Setu, Pea River Journal, Narrow Road and Open Road Review. Her poems have appeared in national anthologies like Chants of Peace and Mytho-manthan. Her poem ‘Anagram’ won the 2013 Commendation Prize at The All India Poetry Competition. Her short story ‘Sindh 1947’ was longlisted for the DNA Out Of Print Short Fiction Contest 2016. She was the Featured Writer for Wordweavers Poetry Contest 2015-16. Her poems will feature in the upcoming anthology of poetry by Sahitya Akademi. She is the author of a collection of poems, Invisible Eye, available on Amazon.
Mallika Bhaumik’s poetry, short stories, articles, interviews and travelogues have been published in e-mags like Staghill Literary journal, The Wagon Magazine, Cafe Dissensus, Oddball magazine, Spark magazine, Pangolin review, Narrow Road, Ethos Literary Journal, The WomanInc, Learning and Creativity, Get Bengal, Glomag, Shot Glass Journal, The Mark Literary Review, The Metaworker, Madswirl, In Parantheses, The Local Train Magazine, Harbringer Asylum, Madras courier and others. She has published two poetry books, ‘Echoes’ (Authorspress) which has won Reuel International Award for Best Debut Poetry book, 2018 and ‘How Not To Remember’( Hawakal Prokashona). She has been nominated for Pushcart Prize, 2019 . She lives and writes from Kolkata.
Love, loss and the ties that bind us – these are some of the things NJ based poet Anu Mahadev writes about. There are the occasional travels and other life experiences tossed in for flavor, but she makes her voice heard through her glorious imagery and metaphor-infused language. Poetry as a medium of expression liberates her and lets her choose who she wants to be on every page, as a musical storyteller.
Nalini Priyadarshni is a feminist, poet, writer, editor, translator, educationist and an environmentalist, though not necessarily in that order, who has authored Doppelganger in My House and co-authored Lines Across Oceans with late D. Russel Micnhimer. Her writings have appeared in numerous literary journals, podcasts and international anthologies including but not limited to The Madras Courier, Ugly Writers, The Open Road Review, Your One Phone Call, In Between Hangovers, Asian Signature, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Counter Currents, Art Hut and Silence Between Notes (2019). She has edited several poetry collections including but not limited to Contemporary Major Indian Women Poets (2016), English Section of Resonating Strings (2015). Her poems and views on poetry and life have been featured on AIR (All India Radio) and FM radio. Nominated for the Best of The Net 2017, she lives in Ludhiana, India.