Jottings On a Winter Morning It’s sad to be a normal girl in a room with a yellow wallpaper. Yet I am one who is lonely like shit, an uninhabited house crawling all over with sun-glazed orbwebs…I would be one spreadeagled in DH Lawrence’s sun, & raise my belly to the furthest arc of my breath, before melting in a grimace. & yet when first I saw the curtains lighting menacingly up, I clutched the pillow like my baby. & when I woke up, I stared at the beaten crescent dimming across the foggy waste of stars… Through the window, I watch so many in a hurry, so many brawl-revived, hands dipped in wafer packs, so damn many ask, & receive what I should have as well, for I did ask! I lifted my face when the echelon was passing overhead. & yet what of it! Evening chooses its own incense, the streetlamps their own moths, the dog-shat lane its own choice quartz. I see a people shaking candy floss at each other, scratching tacks against each other’s skin, tumbling into each other’s cologned tees, raising invisible lanterns, sharing cigarettes, grazing the dust to mark out their acres. Years ago, creeping behind their tipsy Gibsons, my barbed-wire skin wrapped about me, I’d go correcting the unnoticed blunders of time. If I spied a rent, I taped it with grass; if I stumbled, I rubbed my feet in glass. Our way was one; –I went mine. & look how I make up for all this, anointing my cracked skin, forgiving myself, if reminiscing were forgiving…or I am noble enough to tuck my hair behind my ears & ask the world to forgive me as if I ever did deserve its wrath. I crease the light like paper, I last only the falling mayfly, to love I merely have the courage, to live, from choice to chores & back, the unfortunate strength. Two How often a bicycle, carelessly propped up against the wall, slides down it without our having leant on the handlebars, or snapped the rear- rack shut against itself like a mousetrap, although in our presence, sure, yet how does that work against us? Ah, I understand that having seen it all, how it all came about, before our eyes, we should have, at least one of us, rushed to the spot and pulled it back, the poor thing, up against the wall, and calmed our nerves. Instead, we went on sitting by the window, our skin freezing, and gazing on the fallen thing as the ever-freshened slurry went splashing between the spokes… Until, having chosen at last to unsee the dreadful show, we drew the blinds and now, here we are, our skin freezing, as we catch the sounds of a scuffle outside–isn’t that the grocer’s voice? Another escalating pitch, if you can hear, and you do. And that’s the wireman, yes, coughing! Your voice bricked down to a moan, the way you castigate the bumbling jar frightens me more. I call you, hug you: There, there! We shall be okay! The world will have spared us yet again… Ars Poetica Facebook can be a bitch. The trick is to not post Your poems so damn frequently. Besides, you boast Just over fifty friends! You gotta jump out there & show both bot & people that you bloody care. Also, facebookworms ain’t so cool, or so refined, You’re looking in the wrong place. You should maybe find Another corner, my good friend, like Instagram, But yeah, you’ve gotta be a sexy menstrual ham, Then show the world how easily your poems breathe, Your yogic poems out of your herbalizéd teeth. Cuz you must dig this: readers also have gone vegan. You cannot pen no meaty stuff that they might gag on. There’s so much more to goddamn understand Than you would care to type up with that hefty hand! There’s global warming, & the patriarchy, boo, There’s equal pay, gun violence, why, abortion too, & how the rappers, rockstars, DJs & such elves Are looting our dear Websters to christen themselves… The more there is to understand, the less there is The time to. Ergo, stick to short & simple, whiz! Verse ain’t supposed to bid one sit & ponder, if The poet has sat & pondered first. Just choose your gif, The more nuanced the better, & your poet will Respond asap, & praise your unreal reading skill. Forbear! Not now. You must at least ten odd days wait Before your FB pals decide your literary fate. If not a book, you may, if you would care to look, Write ten poems down & bring out a chapbook. For sure, I have a poet friend who is so learned He’ll flip your thang and sing to all the world you’ve earned Your well-deserved spot in some XYZ+ canon, & sign it off for you, & you are good to shine on. Why, if you’re lucky your work might show up On no less than The Guardian, within an op- Ed! If you’re really fortunate, you might be quoted By the apocalyptics for whom we’ve all voted. Amen! Swat the fribbles flat between your hands And dare not look again! The dreamless night Is ours to dream away. To not be stirred Is perfect. We know what is wrong, what right, And what to shun, and if to cry or laugh– And we shall live, if not on life’s behalf. Before the Cock Crows Before the cock crows you’ll deny me thrice, That is all she would say, camped by the street, Whenever she caught the sound of our feet, If ever, passing by, she caught our eyes. Though none, as far as we could tell, left home To walk down to her sacred station and Extend and then retract his or her hand And vanish, imp-like, in the twilight chrome. So, as she sat, as shrunken and uncouth, Surveying those who footslogged past, I went And stood before her half-imploded tent. I knew it all along. She spoke the truth. And ever since, though all of impkind errs, It’s only my hand to be ripped from hers.
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Susmit Panda, born in 1996, is a poet living in Kolkata. His poems and criticism have appeared in Boog City, Coldnoon, Indian Cultural Forum, Guftugu, The Boston Compass, and The Journal (London), and are forthcoming in Fulcrum: An Anthology of Poetry and Aesthetics. He participated in the Poesia 2021 World Poetry Day Festival.
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