She says seven is an auspicious number. The seven-life, seven-steps-of-eternity stupidity of marriage makes me doubt that. But she insists that I reserve too many opinions in pockets too small. She says that Lord Mailara, the king of seven forts, had seven crores of Gorayyas with whom he slayed the asuras. Gorayyas, dressed in thick wool overcoats quilted with patches of wildflower colors, now carrying bhandara and a bowl. That faith is a safehouse is clear as the noon sky in the summer of Devaragudda. When I remember the temple on the hill, I think of rugged men wearing heavy anklets, dancing to a set rhythm, and whipping themselves. Every prayer has a price. I, too, offered rock salt, for which I paid two rupees. I emptied the plastic bag onto the head of the snake god. Amma had said that all my nightmares where snakes visited, and bit would disappear. But they lingered with knotted tails circling in my body, knowing no end. She says, ‘Yelukoti, Yelukoti, Yelukotigo; Changmalo, Changmalo’ is a chant that cages despair and pushes life. Personally, the chant is a cry to ask the lord to save me from my own hands that blend sugar in tea without a noise that can also tie a noose too tight. She asks me to sit straight, as she lights the light muttering a verse waiting for the clock to strike seven to watch the daily soap. I switch to the swaras on my sitar.
Poornima Laxmeshwar resides in Bangalore, India. Her books of poetry include ‘Anything but Poetry’ (Writers Workshop), ‘Thirteen’ - a chapbook, (Yavanika Press) and 'Strings Attached', (Red River).
To love a king or a river is rather difficult if you have no crown and do not flow. Think of Dushyant who forgot. You say he was fated to. And what fate tells you, you are not? Ganga made a contract against questions and when one was raised, she never came back. It makes little sense, then, to wear a king or a river like silken raiment upon your skin. Never sovereign in love, they take their orders strictly from above, their one life a ploughshare on the world's soil they will keep tilling no matter how much you want or claim them for your own. Their memories are lost in rings, their hearts in strings of karma mortals will never unravel, their acts forever justified and beyond questioning. How else would Janaki lose her lover to a king? Like a Sita, a Shakuntala or a Shantanu, you weep but what universe really heeds your tears? I tell you it's safer to steer clear of kings and rivers, of them whose lives are tied to a thousand others. Recall Heer Ranjha, Mirza Sahiban, Laila Majnu - who weaved their days and nights only into each other trying to discover passion's formlessness and planting their one love's tree so it would be fragrant after death. When you choose their lot, rest assured that your pain will have companionship that king and river lovers have not. If, however, your heart is given, remember to never expect to be chosen. There will always be ways to love and not bond, to live not belong, to give oneself keeping enough, and to breathe that unsaid into a final song.
This heat, have faith, will not kill you. It will only mangle your shape to judge your insides for who you are. The idea is also to ensure that you alone inhabit your skin and the squatters melt, fall or combust to their end like butter. Exorcists in every language in every land have done just that - severely punished the body only to know to whom it belongs. Spirits no matter how loving or tenacious, will leave you to yourself when the body threatens to guillotine sanity and sprout chaos. Hence, Kali walks nude and Chhinamasta stalks with her head in her hand, exorcised of all illusion, of love, expectation, want
Basudhara Roy teaches English at Karim City College affiliated to Kolhan University, Chaibasa. Drawn to gender and ecological studies, her four published books include a monograph and three poetry collections. Her recent works are available at Outlook India, The Dhaka Tribune, EPW, Madras Courier and Live Wire among others. She loves, rebels, writes and reviews from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand.
I’m sitting on a chair made out of tindersticks and time. I’m sitting alongside a curtainwall of pale water and light. Sunset is pouring out its glass of red wine. The stars are hornets rustling their bedclothes or the sister Fates making sparks by rubbing their thighs. The moon is a motherly button. I’m sitting inside a circle of crushed beetles’ wings, translating salt into a palatable sugar, spinning yarn out of my abdomen, retracing the patient constellations. I’m sitting. And I’m thinking. I’m thinking about sitting and thinking. About fingers, jawbones, instances. Where I’ll sleep tonight, I’ve yet to decide, I’m so taken up with just sitting. On a throne shaped like a milking stool. On a beach chair folded into seven dimensions. There’s a moist-warmed mist around my ankles. My pulse is tangled in fibrous wire and snares. In truth, I’ve been sitting here for several millennia, my stones whistling in the relentless heat. The Blue Nile and White Nile are meeting here, just under my black feet. There’s interference on nineteen frequencies. The vibrations are post-apocalyptic. I sense them with my million moth-antennae. It’s a message repeating itself in the far future. My molars are rattling in sympathy. My bloodstream jingle-jangles unobtrusively. Just sitting and sitting . . . Listening to the underscore of earthly music. Twisting the dreaded locks in my hair. Gazing out the window at a mind full of sky, the years nibbling on the wheels of my chair, the years forever unsatiated, smoke in their mouths, a new language taking shape, truth divided by lies, lost love divvying out its smaller portions, life’s door closing like an eye, like Horus’s eye, that was lost in battle, his sacrifice symbolic, the pillar of Osiris rising . . .
Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with poems published in hundreds of magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books include ‘The So-Called Sonnets’ (Silenced Press), ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy’ (Cawing Crow Press), ‘Like As If” (Pski’s Porch), and ‘Hearsay’ (The Poet’s Haven).
The grandfather sowed. A demon on a dark rainy night, charming loafer in the spring, hippy cut leaves will go bald in the summer, the kingfisher will scald its skin when it seeks a resting place. Ours in its shade at the seventh plinth of morose- ness. On troubling days, its branches will sway, armoured fruits will ripen and fall to the ground. Sweet tamarind, sweet tamarind, your sour pulp scales my teeth, your acid tang buzzes my brain. A poison stain left on the brass plate of my boyhood: in fever, it was spent.
Arun Paria lives in Pune. His poems have been published in ‘The Bombay Literary Magazine’, ‘nether Quarterly’, ‘Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English 2021’, and the Sahitya Akademi’s ‘Indian Literature’. His short fiction has been published in ‘EKL Review’. His creative non-fictions have been published in ‘White Wall Review’ of Toronto Metropolitan University and ‘Usawa Literary Review’. He is the founder of the Pune Writers’ Group, a creative community, serving over 2000 writers.
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1943 (For Raphael Kosek)
Mother is dying in quiet moonlight. It erases the lines of her age. Light slow dances on half of her face. Mother is dying — a long moonlight sonata while nurse Diana hush-walk in corridors. Nurse Diana walks like a moon ballerina. Mother complains about her pelvis. The nurse gives my mother a drug to ease her. Georgia O’Keeffe held a cattle pelvis, peered through the holes like a telescope to see the moon as a lonely woman dying. Mother phases, a quarter turn. As shadow and light transform her, she lunges into the death’s arms, in moonlight spotlight. Nurse Diana helps move her body, cradling my mother’s pelvis while an aid holds her head. An applause of pigeons takes off. Nurse Diana quietly absorbs into moonlight. Georgia O’Keeffe sees the future in the pelvis.
Martin Willitts Jr is an editor for the Comstock Review. He has won numerous poetry awards. He has 21 full-length collections including the Blue Light Award 2019, “The Temporary World”. His recent books are “Harvest Time” (Deerbrook Editions, 2021), “All Wars Are the Same War” (FutureCycle Press, 2022). His forthcoming books are “Not Only the Extraordinary are Exiting the Dream World (Flowstone Press, 2022) and “Ethereal Flowers” (Shanti Press, 2023)
Dwarfed by whispering crops, we staged our reinvasion of half-felled curtain wall and tower built to see for miles - survivors of two burnings. In early evening sunlight, communion felt easy. How neatly threads were woven! Knights, shepherds and Greek gods repopulating, stroke by righteous stroke, these lands of plenty: unstoppable sprawl of interloper’s mythology. And as we moved away, squat walls bound up with ivy breathed near-farewell. But deeper truths breathed too. I woke that night, heart pounding and worlds bleak in my mind, to know, at last, the fire in those fields - forever trespasser in their loom of darkness
I am a writer, storyteller and actor based in Passage West, Co. Cork, Ireland.
Legs outstretched Arms akimbo Osuna strides through the village As she has from the dawn of time In the Beginning Place When she hears the drums Her heart beats with pride She remembers the salt spray against her face The ocean’s tears could not quench her thirst Even as too-strong arms bore her to the New World Where she stands resilient Tall as the tamarind tree Provoked by centuries of storms Brighter than the moonlit night Rising above the darkness Of the land and secret hearts Moko Jumbie pours forth her guardian light
Marianne Tefft is a poet, lyricist, Montessori teacher and voiceover reader in Sint Maarten. Her work appears regularly in print and online anthologies worldwide. You can read her poems on Facebook (Marianne Tefft - Poet & Wordsmith) or listen as she reads on YouTube (Marianne Tefft). She is the author of the poetry collections Full Moon Fire: Spoken Songs of Love (Tellwell Talent, 2022) and Moonchild: Poems for Moon Lovers (yearend 2022).