The Diva Sings Again

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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.

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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

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

Second Skin: Poetry on Photo Prompt

Note: ‘Second Skin’, the prose poem is one of the winning poems based on a photo prompt contest hosted by the vibrant literature group in Facebook, The Significant League. The photograph, a seething document emphasizing on the crass and ruthless impacts of our urban civilization, had been taken and shared by the prolific Indian author, Dr. Santosh Bakaya. 

16998151_1949069295322013_4675387656980032024_n

What is the road made of, when we wait, deep, eager, in the tail-end of its sooty flesh?

The dirt is our pixie dust, the molecules of our tainted breaths traipsing with the smoke, swirling in the summer of smells. For ages, we wait, in the clogged pores of the city streets, clenching our calloused fists, our crooked teeth.

The streets become our cradles, rocking us in its high-pitched sopranos. We know the glittering place where the horns screech and trample the silence of our waiting, a waiting with its high and low notes, a waiting in its repetitive rhythms.

A waiting which becomes a clenched metaphor, telling our tale of rags and our smudged brown skins, our soiled faces that slap you hard, slap your conceited words, your vanilla-scented clothes, your practiced complacency.

Ah, this street now, at some uncertain end of the labyrinthine maze, stares in our faces. We flop down, inhale the putrid air, soaked with stories like that of ours, stashed away, nonchalant.
This street now, our second skin, is the rhetoric of our unnamed home as we slip into its monstrous bed, sucking full throttle, from its blackened, emaciated nipples.

Hey baby, suck on, why worry when the earth’s crust is but an unzipped black pit, an ashen pasture when you can roll around in the dirt and lick its fevered heat, running your little fingers over it when the blackness bleeds?

Hey baby, clap, clap, clap in your silver swirl as the thumping in our chests turn into a rhythmic chanting. Let our black foams squashed under the car tires be the thick wash of blood between all things terribly shiny and white.

Let them stop in their tracks for once, in their white skins and made up hair, grabbing the flesh of this cul-de-sac where we now squat, sculpting the pathos, the bare-boned poetry of the city street.

All Rights Reserved. Lopa Banerjee. March 3, 2017.

P.S. The other winners of this contest are Geethanjali Dillip, Bhuvaneshwari Shivkumar Sharma, Fatima Afshan and Rahul Ahuja.

Durga: The Light That Flickered and Blazed

 

Note: My poetic tribute to the relentless, unblemished spirit of the teenager Durga, a poetic celebration of her short, unceremonious, yet unforgettable life and the haunting reality of her untimely death in Satyajit Ray’s ‘Pather Panchali’ (Song Of The Road), the award-winning cinematic adaptation of the master storyteller of Bengal, Bibhutibhushan Banyopadhyay’s magnum opus novel  of the same name.

durga-in-pather-panchali

(1)

The light that had flickered and blazed had found its humble moorings

In the moonbeams of a brother’s quiet smile.

The light, naked, unabashed, glaring, rose and fell

between the crests and rims of an untamed want of ripe mangoes

and guavas picked up from neighbor’s orchards, her kith and kin

for whom Durga was the other name of a censuring reality.

The light, an all-pervading truth, had shone, wandering in those wistful eyes

Loosening in their shores like sea water, and she clutched the brother’s shoulders

And took in the delight of trains whizzing past the silhouetted fields, whistling,

While the kaash flowers swayed in those eyes in their ivory nakedness.

The moon of her newborn puberty ached in the dark edges of her kohl,

A dark ink that had craved for a morsel of pampering from a troubled mother,

Splotches and shades of a promise peeping by, whistling in her ears the provocation

Of a scrumptious feast of a wedding, the provocation of a sweetmeat

Of a fancy doll, a string of false pearls, which she could cling to, as her own.

(2)

The light that had cradled her lap which hid sweet nothings for her ancient, dying aunt

A strand of forbidden silver which had carved her destiny, in a dilapidated hut

Where hope was but a shallow inhale, trading her brother Apu’s porridge

with her grim, corrosive punishments, a plate of squashed rice

and a mother’s wordless tears waiting for her, in an eager dusk of her return. durga-and-apu

The light, which had died out, in spurts, stumbling upon the dead aunt

In the lingering quiet of her way back home, chewing on rural titbits.

The light had taken in the world in the diamond drops of a torrential rain

Squandering in the open fields when she too hungered to live life

In bite-sized chunks of enduring moments, swirling, dancing around her.

The ashen sky of Nishchindipur, the nonchalant village

Where she anchored her tomfoolery, had flashed that one final grin

As she hung, loose, papery-thin in its sunless folds, taking in

Her wild breaths, hissing against the wind for one last time.

Death, her truthful, final kin had put his arm around her

While the brother listened to her last wish to storm out in the open fields

To see a stray train whizzing by….

The brother, the stoned mother, the bereaved father,

The starched cotton sari which she would never ever wear,

Waited and moved on in the bare-bone life, trudging on uncertain miles

Where her dim light, the dying vapors of her last breaths waved at them,

In a choking, molten surrender.

All Rights Reserved. Lopa Banerjee. February 28, 2017

 

Also, sharing a detailed, in-depth essay about the grinding reality of death and the philosophy of life as depicted in the Apu trilogy that I had published in 2014 in Cafe Dissensus e-mag. It is also archived in this blog (January 2014).

Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy: Celebrating Life Through the Vision of Death

 

The River Dark, The River Deep

The rivulet, the gushing stream bounced and swayed

Like a colicky infant. pic of housewife

Didn’t I love you, sleeping in your banks, pure?

Hiding myself so deftly in your little pockets of silence?

Why then, today, when I ran to touch you, hot, raw, burning,

You ran away instead, fearing my coagulated blood,

my frozen tears, my milk stuck on your door-frame, my breath,

shot up, in spurts, that has known you like the grandma’s old tale,

Like the lone, dazzling truth?

 

Come, enter through my rich brown, derelict doors,

Still open for you. Settle slowly amid the thickets,

Soaking in the smudged, docile light setting in,

The skyline of my wants still eager, firm with primroses,

Brown, yet not dying still, with music, sharp, yet blurry,

The details obscured, yet the pleading, the little lightning

Robust, plump, hammering.

 

Will you burn it, like the rest of my thwarted dreams galore,

The pregnant ashes of my sighs

that once I had closed your palms with?

Like the stubborn, wailing infant, eyes rolling, fingers tossed,

You had wanted small tufts of the dried, golden grass

Growing mammoth, fleshy, in a mountainous pile.

Today, between my calloused palms, the ashes dwindle,

And let out an air, musky, choking, yet again.

 

The verdant spring, the primroses, the half-baked love songs

Burn me like the old, bloody embers, the fungi strong, shadowy

Smeared all over like a beauty in continuum.

Come over, do not run, what is there to hide?

Lie down, flat, on my back, as I float on your scalding waters,

Doused with the dark grey of our self-same songs.