Vasudha: The Earth

Note: Inspired by and dedicated to the fiery woman poet of Bengal, Mallika Sengupta, whose verses on the essence of womanhood often shake me out of my gender stupor and compel me to see myself as ‘Vasudha’, a being of the primeval earth.

To the frothy waves churning in the oceanic core
To the mermaid smell, the mélange of Ganga and Yamuna
That coalesce in my shore,
To my Indus soil, bearing the imprints of my winsome horse trails.
To the crimson surge of thoughts whipping my fertile brain
As my womb, my moist flesh becomes the ‘Vasudha’,
The earth that they feast on.
To the hands, the supple fingers that feed the alchemy of dreams,
I whisper my name. I tear my name into zillion blood-dripping petals
And scatter them into nameless directions of this urban wasteland,
In cobbled sidewalks, in forlorn alleys, in bare-bone street corners.

My ‘Vasudha’ had still not risen from her mother’s womb,
Her sheltered core… her contours were still not formed, well enough
When her shackles were created, the flowers to dangle in her hair,
The gold anklets garnishing the feet, to hopscotch within the ‘laxmanrekha’.
The iridescent sky, looming above my questioning self,
The insolent sun, lavishing his rays on my wild, volatile skin,
The voluminous clouds, bursting forth in torrents, had claimed to be my paramours.
I took them all in, they penetrated my fertile core and I became whole.
My ‘Vasudha’ has been the earthen nymph,
her arms have been entwined with the sky, and with her primeval man.
And yet, they have bound me in shackles, left me sunless,
called me barren, loose, wanton.

There, my oceanic core calls out again, the mélange of Ganga-Yamuna
In my bloody ripples. My ‘Vasudha’, the earth that they feast on,
Is the womb, the blood riot, the mantra of this life, flowing, rippling, gorging.
Let them not taint the earth that they feast on.

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Girl On The Train Tracks

railway-line-3061202_960_720

Let my ripped dream, my lover and my battered heart alone.
I drag my body’s burden through the scarred edges of the platform
Where the last local train of the evening has blown
Its perennial whistle, and scurried past me,
When I stare at it, dazed, nursing my own wet borders.
Time, the blessed poets, as they see it in its winged chariot,
Is only the smashed whistle of the body of a disappearing train
That leaves me, fettered, looking around,
For the leftovers and chewed crumbs of the earth’s children
In the train station.
My lover guy, you have left your masculine musk
In the tracks, and I lose my body in those unnamed tracks,
In my scavenger hunt of that musk, all the while, in that living hell.
Here, I bury my body’s mass, and know not the blazing wants,
The carnal hunger that threatens to usurp my being.
This fierce onslaught burns me, shreds me into pieces,
I squeeze the pieces with my fists, stuff them into the pockets
Of my own silence, but my feet refuse to leave their imprints
In the worn-out tracks.
Have you ever walked by those frayed edges,
Smelt like coal and the rotten flesh of desires that graduate
In time, into placards in these lovelorn tracks?

Let my ripped dream, my lover and my battered heart alone.
I know this falling and peeling off, this hunting and burning
Will overpower me till the last platform I know, and then
You will find me, in smithereens.

Cloudburst: The Womanly Deluge

One more milestone at the end of 2017… ‘Cloudburst: The Womanly Deluge’, a collection of poetry which I am honored and privileged to co-edit and co-author along with Dr. Santosh Bakaya. Finally our collaborative baby is in my hands, all the way from India!!
Thank you Madan Gandhi sir, Global Fraternity of Poets, Santosh Bakaya ma’m and all other authors/poets of this book which made this dream come true!

Cloudburst_book

P.S. my tribute to Smita Patil and to Panchali/Draupadi which made me a star blogger in Bonobology is part of this collection, as is my award-winning poem ‘Mindless Meanderings’, based on a picture prompt by Santosh Bakaya ma’m.

The book blurb:

Cloudburst_cover

In this lyrical assortment of verses emerging from the pens of 28 Indian women poets, there is a joyous, enthralling celebration of a wide and endearing spectrum of human experiences. Just like every woman poet in the collection has her own individuality, every poem in the collection is endowed with a unique powerful voice, and compiled together, they create an overwhelming deluge of emotions, a cascading flow of poetic sensations.

To get the book in Amazon India, do click here:

https://www.amazon.in/Cloudburst-Santosh-Bakaya-Lopamudra-Banerjee/dp/9383755423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514928824&sr=8-1&keywords=Cloudburst+the+womanly+deluge

A few days before the release of Cloudburst: The Womanly Deluge, an interview of both us editors, Dr. Santosh Bakaya and yours truly, conducted by yet another prolific poet Nalini Priyadarshini, published in Reviews e-mag. Nalini happens to be a contributing poet of our anthology too! Do read the interview here:

http://thereviewsindia.co.in/nalini-priyadarshini-brews-it-up-with-santosh-bakaya-and-lopamudra-banerjee/

The Diva Sings Again

5
Image credit: Shutterstock

She becomes a sublime blue in the gossamer evenings of numinous arc lights and mad, concerted human cheer.
Her voice breaks out in mad bursts of diabolical fire and her electric beauty
An infinitesimal light
Unbound, the world sees her in her finest atoms
Her glittering particles awakened in her exotic melodies.
Wine, the color of the night pours on her in staccato coughs and topaz red
The star girl of the rock solid earth
Wipes her transitory woes and tramples them with her pointed heels.
Dresses in lush satin and sequins
And cradles her guitar, rehearsing her choreographed, practiced, self-same numbers.
Inside her, the synchronized melodies
Swell and rise in ripples, and the notes
A crescendo of a hurricane, never ravaging a life, other than her own.
The night pulls her in, a rancid fairytale
A few blasts of jeering, leering voices
The repetitive strokes of allergic fanfare, weaned at the onset of a hazy dawn.
Tonight, she presents her last love song, a melancholy strain while the crowd craves to dance to her fast, rhythmic renditions.
One glaring teardrop, a blasphemy,
A banishment in the bottomless pit of anonymity.
The arc lights turn brighter and the weight of the world, bulkier beneath her drooping, sinking frame.
She lifts herself again, spreads her joyous, dainty wings to let them know
She was only a weary hummingbird,
A heart beating on, one of their very own.
But would they take any of it? She was a diva, a joie de vivre, after all, floating around their wondrous, impalpable wants.
All Rights Reserved. Lopa Banerjee. November 8, 2017.

The Wheels of Life

Note: Inspired by this beautiful photograph of the Kolkata lanes and the rickshaws, old, hand-pulled vehicles still rampant in the city, taken by my friend Aditi Bandyopadhyay, a doctor, Orissi danseuse and an advocate for the cause of Autism.

B&W_Kolkata

The wheels of life go on, the mortal flames of the earth,
crushed, brittle, under its trampling trails.
A city wakes up, stays put, flees in recycled habits
and retires at night, its moist desires wax and wane.
A city, orchestral, sublime in its monochrome cacophony,
throbbing, pulsating in its sultry summer wind,
its short-lived winter’s tale.
The wheels of life fade and resound in slow spirals
of a forgotten autmn’s last longings,
a city which has buried my words without echoes,
a city where I have returned, barefoot
in an annual ritual of jinxed interludes.
A city where the honking rickshaws
still trample over my dark, ghostly footprints,
a city where goodbyes
are a waxy dribble of some terminally ill, fugitive words.

Lopa Banerjee. October 29, 2017

Let The Night Sing: My Maiden Poetry Collection

It gives me much happiness to share that my maiden poetry collection ‘Let The Night Sing’, an assortment of 70 various poetic musings on being a woman, a mother and a lunar soul has been published by respected poet laureate and veteran litterateur Madan Gandhi sir and Global Fraternity of Poets (India) and is now on Amazon India. Soon to be available in the US and worldwide.

I thank dear fellow poet, amazing artist and co-founder of Rhythm Divine Poets, Sufia Khatoon for the brilliant cover illustration, Dr. Santosh Bakaya for the very in-depth and enriching foreword, Dr. AV Koshy for the kind and generous blurb encompassing the theme and the nuances of the poems.

Sharing the introduction page of the book, which speaks of the overarching theme of the poems. Hope some of you will like reading it.

Introduction:

‘Bodies are visible hieroglyphics. Everybody is an erotic metaphor and the meaning of all these metaphors is always the same; death.’
Octavio Paz

For those who are in love with the poetry of the body, continue to revel in it through its bruises and blood, continue to see the molecules of living glittering in darkness, for those who talk to the strained ribs of our Mother Earth, to the hollowness and inviting quiet of cities and landscapes in your dreams and waking, for those who see even in the body of death, a gorgeous, pitiless song in its smoky embers, here I present my lunar musings, springing up from the splinters and shards of my being. These broken pieces, these wayward poems have taken me to unexpected places, delving deep into my childhood and puberty. With them, I have seen my womanhood evolve, with them I have traveled to the long-forsaken terrains of my hometown in Kolkata, India, where I keep going back again and again. With them, I have recorded the phenomenon of death as I have seen it, a silent language of communion, as my voice flattened against its ethereal quiet.
Hope you will enjoy the ride, the bumps and bolts along the way.
Lopa Banerjee

Let the night sing_Lopa Banerjee

The Amazon India link to buy the book:

http://www.amazon.in/Let-Night-Sing-Lopamudra-Banerjee/dp/9383755342/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499285605&sr=8-1&keywords=Let+The+Night+Sing

Mademoiselle

Note: Written as a poetic tribute to Emma Bovary, the voluptuous, beautiful, forlorn heroine of Gustave Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary, also later adapted into an Indianized version in Ketan Mehta’s film ‘Maya Memsaab’.

Madame Bovary

A whiff of smoke brewing in her eyelashes,
A touch of the wet earth, her body, a failed, blurred mantra of desire.
Only in the dusk settling beneath the hills, she returns home
To the smothered fairy tales of her body, looking for the salt
When her husband might have kissed her many light years ago.

Her moon flesh, her pale, eager hands, the blood, coursing through her veins
Restless, settles in vain, in the familiar smells of a solicitous husband.
The homecoming, for a nomadic soul, is only true when she decodes herself
Undresses, flinging herself in her lovers’ arms, kisses their soft, velvet mouths
Turning as the slutty Madame in the amorous nights, a ripened woman
Pressing against the barbed wire fence of the provincial life, her marital gift.

In the opera, the fangs of her passion unfold, like birth pangs,
The smoked particles of lust, the perfumed ghosts of erotic cravings,
The gusty winds of music and the symphony,
Digging deep into her panting breath.

Is she a nymph, darting through the infinite darkness of a conjugal silence
That hangs around her neck like a noose, choking her voice,
The intent adrenaline rush that erupts in spurts?
Why does she need her giant share of lovers, long to be torn asunder
Dissolve in their wanton dreams in her dark luster, turning ashen, forlorn
With every lavish affair, with every adulterous escapade
That she thinks, would salvage her, giving wings to her romantic fancies?

Vain woman, adultery is the rain that bursts forth from a littered sky,
Don’t you know the sacrilege of baring open, elsewhere than your own home?
Didn’t you know, when you had waltzed, your sweet scent
Crushing against your partner’s musk, all this was a prelude to a glaring nemesis,
A nemesis where feeling embittered, lost was your only truth,
By all the men you had given yourself to?

In the burning fumes of death, her being dissolves, and resounds
Much like the lovelorn raindrops that would pelt on the precincts of the estate,
In the arms of death, her caramel being is tossed and turned,
Just as in the arms of life, she had craved to be caressed, blossoming,
Rising and ebbing in her blasphemous wants.

Jorasanko

Note: Dedicated to the illustrious Jorasanko Thakurbari, the home of Bengal’s bard Rabindranath Tagore. Published in the very prestigious print anthology ‘Cologne of Heritage’ (Viswabharati Research Center, June 2017), celebrating the unique cultural heritage of Kolkata, the proverbial city of joy in India

Jorasanko 1.

(1)
The red brick building, jagged edges of lives lived,
Lives lost, stubborn with hope and shimmering poetry.
Songs tear me, lyrics scrape me, one by one,
Petal by petal, the coatings of aristocratic gentry
Fragmented letters scald, deep, fragile, the cloudburst,
Rain songs, Bhanusingha, the gossamer wings
Of death, the poison, the inevitable salvation.
Locked doors open wide, us prying
In the wet womb of Thakur bari,
Seeking songs, prayers, cadence, the blue sighs of loss.

(2)
Curious feet hopscotch through the sepia tiles.
The once home, a museum of memories
Handpicked, baked fresh for visitors sticking fingers
In the refurbished contours of the walls,
Portraits and memorabilia.
Multicoloured vintage adorning the black
And white of handwritten lyrics
And the mystery, bewilderment of the lines traced,
The images, illustrated. Kadambari, Mrinalini
Sing still, gazing from the white, lingering void.

Panchali

[Inspired by the elemental image of Draupadi/Panchali, the undisputed heroine of the epic Mahabharata, depicted in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s masterpiece of a novel, ‘Palace of Illusions’.]

Draupadi

Panchali, I am, to you, my Partha, my love,
Painfully displaced in recycled domestic patterns
Circulated freely amid all your brothers and you.
The saint who determined my cycle between one coy bride
To the next had created enough music in my bones
To satiate all you Pandavas as equal husbands,
Though he never knew how trapped
My luminous smile had been,
My dark-skinned charm, colliding
with so much of your chivalrous cacophony.

Panchali, I am, to you, my valiant Bheemsen,
A luscious lilac that you craved to engrave
In your voluminous heart, never knowing
How the absence of light rustled in my bare form,
My deep, dark tresses, shedding its rhythmic dewdrops
Not in unconditioned love, but in stoic, formulaic surrender.
Panchali, my Dharmaraaj, I am to you,
The untamed fire that spread all over you, in spurts,
The easiest pawn you could have settled for,
Reckless, warped in a gambling spree
you could very well do without.

Did I burn you too, my cognac fire
Was it a bit too scalding, Nakul and Sahadev,
My youngest husbands, moving in the orbit
Of your elder brothers’ wants? Did you get
How my splinters and shards surrounded you
In a vain rapture in the palace of illusions
When all I waited for, perhaps, was the Mahaprasthan,
The final journey of my nemesis, with all five of you,
Following the slit throats and mashed up corpses
Of my sons, of our kith and kin?

Panchali, I am, to you, Karna, my all-pervading bruise.
For I had forgot, in spite of your irresistible musk
That you and me both were wiggling children
of the cracked earth. The fiery flashes of your pride
Matching my own insolence, had borne a cursed utterance,
‘Sutaputra’, my vanity had attested a lie, a lie that resounded
Every time we crossed paths, as a rhythmic reminder.

Panchali, I am, to you, my Sakha, Krishna,
The smoke and fury of my mind’s badland
Soothed from time to time, when your hands touched mine.
What magic did your words unfold
To this dark, forlorn child-woman,
As you hovered in my life, presiding over its queer equations?
Dream girl, I wasn’t for you, when disrobed,
shunned of my womanly honour, your drapes covered
my bruised, black moon. Your words revealed,
Like half-shining flashlights, draped my life
In the ambiguous sheen I myself couldn’t fathom well.
Here, you touch my hands yet again, for one last time,
Where I find myself beyond the rims of time, and tell me
I have played my part well in this chaotic and tumultuous play.
Is this a new beginning, where I dissolve and form anew?
Panchali, I am, look, the boundless sky, my new palace, engulfs us all.

For Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff

#GloPoWRIMO

My dedication poem for Catherine and her irresistible love for the dark and sinister Heathcliff in Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, loosely based on the tideling form, invented by the talented Daipayan Nair.

Wuthering Heights

We collide, burn
Our fire, and smoke
Did you die, unburied, Wuthering Heights?

Heathcliff, the dark-skinned gypsy
Nibbled on my being, me, a mist of his particles.
I died. Did you die, unburied, Wuthering Heights?

The landed gentry, my conceit, my injured vanity
Stabbing my singing throat. You owned me, smelled of me.
I died. Did you die, unburied, Wuthering Heights?

In the moors, we, the hot lilacs gathered and tore apart,
Our torrid air and salt rippled, in a point of no return, no start.

Did you die, unburied, Wuthering Heights?
Heathcliff, your demonic master usurps you, and my piteous clan.
I reach him, a cold ghost, crooning amid shattered glasses, and pregnant sighs.

All Rights Reserved. Lopa Banerjee. April 18, 2017