5 poems by Susmit Panda


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. 


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.


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. 

Return to Journal

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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Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie's first novel, Stillwater, will be released in the spring of 2023. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

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