Princep Ghat

princep ghat

Princep Ghat, Kolkata, India. Image source: 

travel.snydle.com

 

Some days I am just a rusted yellow,

a drooping, crumpled mess

The waters lashing on my eyelashes

a heart-rending tale.

Some days I am just the flames,

the choking silence of the pains of others.

My palms cupping the indelible marks

of bygone days, scalding.

 

Some days I slip into the liquid sound

of poems and boatmen’s songs,

My holy texts trailing after,

smudged, blown away in smithereens.

Some days, the water feels smug-clean

in my sleepy troughs and creases,

Some days, I am the blood

and the shards, the shameless smoke

and the cigarette stubs,

the poison that whirls in my subterranean flow.

 

I know some evenings

your breath brushes past mine,

And we are kindred souls,

burning in each other’s fire.

I know while you dig me

deep with your nails,

the dusk of death is in your skin,

amid the living, breathing mess.

 

Some days when the birds chirp

and the holy crows caw,

In your mossy banks, you sing a song

that once was your mother’s chore.

Today, you rinse your mouth with it

as you chant the holy ‘Om’,

and return home, in your parted lips,

it hangs, a primal hum.

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Take Me In

The November smog, fluid, ethereal, stings in my eyes. I drift again, from one nook of the city to the next as my eyes browse through the burnt hedges, shrubs and trees; it’s time to rebuild from the leftover pencils and brushes of my messed up, old days. I take in the haunting smell of homecoming as I soak in the toxic chlorophyll, trudging past the traffic lights as smoke rolls through my tongue….I know as I move around in deeper shades, the nape of my neck hurts, this nocturnal photosynthesis tosses me up again, root to branch…the smudged moon sinks yet again, dusk to night, night to dawn, breathing heavy, in its sniffed grains of light. I flop down beside her, my whispers broken, my voice hovering from across the void. I sway, holding my clothes, under my clothes, my ribs and bones, my veins and tendrils dance in the smog.

Many moons back, on yet another November day in your city, I had waited, heavy and slow, I had been twisted and turned over and over until the wait became a cursed game. Today, as I come back to those ashen fringes, I lean over your rickety balcony, rehashing those lost, jinxed words as I gobble up old Sundays, smell the old clouds, before holding them tight. I burn, like incense, into your skin, flying through the arid air, chasing after the smog and lost colors, descending, slowly waning, melting into you.

Do take me in, dear Kolkata…

Solitude

“In Solitude, the solitary man consumes himself, in the crowd the crowd consumes him.”–Friedrich Nietzsche

solitude

Amid the sonorous crowd,

loneliness sings its own symphony.

While you make love to solitude,

the deep, dark river flowing within,

Preposterous, the crowd,

with droplets of  sweat and the cloudburst of conceit,

Think you are clad with your own nudity

amid the faceless drapes.

They serenade around, like kites

flowing in their air, their words,

tainted smiles bubble up, melting, disjoined.

The daylight and the dusk pirouette,

their algorithm matched in unerring steps

rejoice in this indolent repartee.

With laser eyes, while they scan your countenance,

the crescendo and fall of your breath,

the silhouetted darkness of your tresses

swaying in the familiar landscape,

they miss the wordless carnival within,

Where you break and tweak,

Burn and rise up again,

from your own deep trenches.

All Rights Reserved. Lopa Banerjee. July 25, 2015

 

 

 

Song of the Road

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Image source: wallpaperswide.com

My legs dangle in the car
In the seat, I settle, awkward
The jagged outlines of
the interstate and the green
On both sides lighting up
Like tattoos.
Bollywood Hindi refrains
Gyrating, recycled, served up
Like frothy, milky chai
in old, verdant train stations
remembered with a child’s eagerness.
In our mouths, between
Our silences outstretched
And our tongues sticking out
Parched, tame, scanning
The flatlands and the ripples
We seek out our
love song for the road,
The tangy and sour essence
of the small towns
That ebb and flow with
the shrill rain,
the murky flood waters,
The turmeric-stained sunlight
That we taste, bubbling,
resting on our backs.
The tires push down the
Buttery roads and I am
Wrapped in the childhood raincoat
Where the playlist
of the songs become
Promises, vows, stillness grasped.
In the mirror, strands of hair
Dance to the orchestra
Like pesky birds,
Grey, trampled, bronzed
With colors, behind a veil
Of shrinking, errant drapes.
The wind and the light outside
A thin stick of pungent smoke
I inhale like a stealthy lover
On our way back home.
Soon the roads, robust
Against our limp bodies
Will bend and waltz,
Tweak and twirl, to
the stairs leading home.
In the brown, saucy night sky
Our road songs,
ingrained, left behind,
will jump, float away
in scattered lines.

Lopa Banerjee. All Rights Reserved. May 30, 2015
Note: Written while returning from a long distance trip by car on route Texas gulf coast to the plains of Nebraska, US.

Ocean Reckoning

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“A mouthful of ocean wants A handful of salty coastal sand”…Half Moon Bay, Northern California.

 

A mouthful of ocean wants
A handful of salty coastal sand
Arid footsteps buried
In the silver swirl,
Craving to be blessed,
To lick the white sands and salt,
To seize a chunk from
The fast-fading time
And gulp the thawing air
While it lasts.
A few more steps,
A little slick of sweat
And there I am,
Ready for the painterly sky,
The blueness and angled sunlight.
A journey into the open roads
And horizon, a journey
Of cracking open, creaking
And bursting into spasms.
A journey, wayward,
Haunting, full of ocean smells.

Note: Dying to be in the wet wild sea again, this time to explore the Gulf of Mexico. Starting our journey today. Sharing a small dedication to my ‘mouthful of ocean wants’, an ekphrastic poem just before embarking on the journey. Hope some of you will like it.

 

Scattered Pearls – “A Love Letter to the Mighty Niagara Falls”

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“Your resolute ripples, the sheer beauty of your Godly, cascading canvas had been etched, in indelible strokes, in my deep, innermost recesses. For the first time, my mind was soaking in your paintbrush and your palette that had created this beautiful, rippling symphony of azure blue and foamy white, a portrait that was eternally still in its resolute, constant flowing, yet perpetually moving in its timeless continuity.”

‘A Love Letter to the Mighty Niagara Falls’, my travel narrative or photo essay that wistfully speaks to the Niagara falls that was once my ‘cherished sanctuary’, published as my April column of ‘Scattered Pearls’, at B’Khush. Do read and enjoy the journey.

http://www.bkhush.com/dev/content/scattered-pearls-love-letter-mighty-niagara-falls

Revisiting An Old Home

National Poetry Writing Month.

Revisiting an Old Home  

The streetlights flicker,
I am caught unawares
in the fleshy orange call
of the tattered, brown dirt road.
My skin is sliced into nimble pieces,
The black tires of my homecoming
Screech, strangling the road
Like rotten banana skin.

One blink, the smell of dust
And the aroma of wet hair
And coconut oil, two blinks,
Then three, and four,
A waking up, the sharp,
shooting tremors and
The boiling, bubbling up.
The wide, gaping mouth,
The rolling waves, childlike
The froth and the fancy
of remembering my body, growing,
resting my back against
Those damp, breathing walls.

I speak a crisp, powdered language
My hunger for touch, for a caress
Burns into the skin like
A forgotten incense.
The waiting mouth of the old home
sprinkled with the remnants
of used up turmeric, cumin,
the rough hairs of
an unruly childhood
bursts wide open,
I slip down her throat
as she gags, darkened, acidic,
Slowly burning, chipping away.

All Rights Reserved. Lopa Banerjee. April 25, 2015

Note: A journey and an epiphany…to be continued….

The Rootless

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Image source: http://www.1zoom.net

 

They plunge in the adrenaline rush of yet another day.

Converge with the faceless crowd, the rough rhythm

And noise, crackling, all around.

They walk, long, irritable steps in the dusty bends

Of the winding, serpentine city streets.

 

The cars, trolleys and the fresh paint

Of the sightseeing city buses brush past,

Nonchalant, no strings attached.

The parched, plastic looks of the buildings

And skyscrapers, the placid nooks and corners

Of the giant fast food joints, a city throbbing

With rootless souls, fusing in transient comfort zones.

 

The madness and euphoria of trampling on

Their forlorn ancestral homes, meandering,

Scattered, cutting through their repainted contours.

The city entraps them, greedy, formulaic,

In long-term mortgage and bills.

 

The lumps in the throat, the cracks in the skin

Forgotten embers rekindle, tongue-tied,

Gather and circle around in speckled, torn flesh

In the murky, wrinkled nights.

 

They had nibbled on the juicy recesses

Of their roots, stripping bare

While the morning coffee and croissants

Numbed their mouths, pale, bitter, tasteless.

 

With mismatched steps, they now meet,

Talk a load of crap and forsake each other

In the dead end of the city, panicked, restless.

A Fistful of Want: Short Story Published in Readomania

My short story ‘A Fistful of Want’ published at Readomania, encompasses the emotional journey of the protagonist Anupama and her husband Aurko in a time span of twenty years. Sharing a short excerpt from the story here:

“She was astonished by the clarity, the sure, unwavering, relentless urgency in his voice which played against the stings of her emotions as she decided to meet him that day. The city was a bejeweled crown of torn memories. In every street, shop or station, her smoky eyes had looked into her drifting shadow trudging in the pursuit of a soulmate, dissolving like a short-lived dream. Where would she meet him in the endless labyrinths of torment that the city streets had led to?”

“Give me your choices. Near Esplanade metro? Inside Rabindra Sadan? Or, what about Park Street?”

None of the places, which had once engrossed her like a child, had any thin semblance of nostalgia and beauty left for her. They pinched her with further pain, like salt in the wound. He waited for her outside one of the less frequented, new cafes in Salt Lake, which he took enough pains to locate, following her curt directions over the phone. Like two carefree children, they stuffed each other’s mouths with imported chocolates to celebrate their first face-to-face meeting.”kolkata city image

To read the full short story published at Readomania.com, do visit:

http://www.readomania.com/story/a-fistful-of-want

Lake Walking

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Image source: Lopa Banerjee

 

“On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.”

— Jules Renard 

Fall, 2008

I am strolling by our neighborhood lake. It is an act of returning to the hedges and thickets and the ducks swimming in the torrid waters, to the old patch by the lake. The swans wander helter-skelter, bite and moan, writhe and make love, floating their wings, whispering in the moist wind. I walk the road, the green patch with swabs of duck mud and splattering splashes of my eagerness and want, at the twilight hour every day. I discover and become one with the strings of nature’s own music that binds me, keeps together the disconnected parts of my soul, searching, hoping, failing, losing, crushing like rotten weeds, rising in dreams and moving on, undaunted. This is the place to learn to string myself together, this is a place to learn the ultimate act of detachment and dissolution.

Towards the end of my pregnancy trimesters, I am mumbling my soliloquies and waiting, waiting to hold myself as the night breaks with the ripples of the tranquil waters. I look intent, into the movements of the ducks and geese, alert, awake, nibbling on mud and dirt, flapping wings all the way to the end of the water bodies, where the stony pavement kisses my walking feet.

Walking around the lake throughout the nine months of the season, I watch the trees transform from bare branches, stalked by the morning frost to the lush green, listen to the sounds as the winds and the crisp morning air rustle the leaves. The brown, bare, winterkilled grass has grown into tall green patches over the summer. I watch the leaves change from lush green to brown, yellow, orange, while the mahogany benches by the sides of the lake call out silently, with names, memories, stories encrypted in their rusted folds. I am the lake walker beckoned by the stories of the families and lives lived in the lakeside community, walking along the roads and the snow bends, the crunching of old feet trailing with little, unassuming footsteps of infants learning to walk.

Wonder, ruminations and reflections brew slowly in the endless solitude of these walks, as I trudge the asphalt and concrete roads. The roads begin to merge, melt together in diverse, unknown, unending trails, with the promise of a vast landscape of possibilities contrived by Nature and God. The green grassy roads are stretched out like long, horizontal ribbons across the wide spectrum of land. Every day, at the twilight hour, when my feet crunch against the grass, I roam around the long strands and wish to tie them together, in inquiry and in the sanctity of my silence.

Summer and Fall, 2014

Fast forward six years, I visit the lake and the surrounding community, hand-in-hand with my little girls, wander with them over the vast stretches of the trails. Strong gusts of wind carry us away while we take pictures of the lake, the ducks and the geese. I revel in this life as the nurturer of little bodies and souls expanding, growing, opening their eyes to the stretch of the Midwestern prairies. With their little, growing feet, they touch and caress the grass beneath their feet. The little hands and feet keep bouncing in glee as they watch, curious and intent, the tranquil water bodies, while the ducks keep flapping their wings, come over to the lakeside trails and walk together with us, their beaks full of grass. With their constant chirping, silly moves and dances, they blossom forth in this snug and welcoming lakeside, as I look into this all-encompassing green, moist and nurturing, which is all mine, which is all theirs, preening and prancing in the joy and victory of their little explorations. Their wonder-filled world is nurtured by dreams of fairies, princesses, ‘Dora the Explorer’, Elsa and Anna, the two sisters and princesses of the magical kingdom of Arendelle. In the parks where their little hands build sand castles, where they revel in their joy rides of slides and carousels, I watch them grow, slowly and surreptitiously, relishing their glittering eyes, their moist, tender breaths absorbing the dew drops, the rainbow and the white clouds in the horizon.

Hand-in-hand, they walk with me in the feather-weight of their daydreams; while I can feel the bounty of their imagination smoothening the crumpled love-letters of my girlhood days. In the furtive wind, I revel in the vastness and horizon of the sky and the open fields, teaching them the very first lessons of the possibilities of God in Nature’s smiling infinitude.

Copyright: Lopa Banerjee. March 2015