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C S Bhagya

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CS Bhagya



Almost midnight.
You walk absently –
zig-zagging and moss-footed – 
in a luminous, roving, 
fish-eyed time, 
even though the sky is no longer 
like mackerel, 
or trout – 
nothing so obviously silver-scaled – 
simmering steel to rust 
in a matter of seconds. 
In a matter of seconds, 
trees flange the disfigured road; 
their tattered arms beat 
with marsupial grace. 


It's a day like any other, 
only years of days like this 
have gone by 
without us meeting. In a day
we have worked, fed, slept, 
betrayed someone, 
and now we are here to talk. 
And we talk
about the weather, 
what else can we talk 
on a night like this 
(we reason). We talk 
of how 
the moon is a polyp 
with guttering neon eyes,
how the clouds part 
or don't part, how lightning 
serrates, so quick and steep,
like razors. We talk 
of this place we have come to 
walking too much.
How, on some days, 
we all come to such places.


Ours is deserted, today. 
Empty bus-stops receive 
every hour without fail; 
blue-uniformed guards 
watch from their posts, 
mulling and mulling
around a long road 
as it swallows more of itself,
and huts stand solemnly, 
windows gouged 
out of living mortar; 
They might have lanterns 
for souls, 
stirring as we pass, 
the wind a tide 
in their blinkered, 
pirate gaze.


you look younger than me.
Dark circles stain in crescents 
under your ceramic eyes.
If I touch, they will char, 
turn to soot: pigment 
from a butterfly's wings. 
You have quartered your time 
between too many, 
I can tell. 
Nothing’s left now. 
The trees 
offer you the wind in their ears, 
as if to console. 
Your hair blows. Maybe 
it’s your hair they want 
after all, 
they caress with such force. 
You startle; 
you think they will fall on you, 
their deep-seated oldness 
radiating, oil in water:  
they will live; everything else 
will die, one by one.


An owl hoots. 
You startle, too, 
at its 360 degree carousel head 
a bat levering its whorled body, below 
in the same tree, 
beak spearing fruit 
somebody will step into 
the next morning; rot. 
A thin whingeing rattlebone stillness 
through a green semaphore 
of leaves 
changing colour: 
in the pool of road, sullenly 
they breast in black strokes. 
Carelessly lithe and sinuous,
everything turns 
to cat.


We are already haunted.


We will sit here and watch 
nobody in the streets, 
until the stiff night sinks 
into our sore limbs: 
we have come here in other seasons, 
we have forgotten, 
like we will soon forget,
there can be more light 
than this dark night 
full of flowering trees
your red-rimmed sleepless eyes, 
and mine.


The nights 
are hollowing out, growing colder 
We can't index its pace. We want 
to bite back. We're only pausing, 
we tell ourselves. 
We need time to breathe. 
The sickle-moon scythes 
stars out of mist. 
We listen to the sea 
in the trees.
for S
you talk of lack, i think
of somebody in a different universe,
a clichéd day tipping over with sun –
or a different, adequately sumptuous source of light –
the day bursting at its seams,              threading
like a line of perforation in a letterpad
& this lack sitting crouched by its side like
                                 an inkpot, unopened;
i think of what somebody
in some other softer universe would say
this is why i read,             
why my days are full of glorious words
like the world in that agha shahid ali poem which is full of paper;

it is a lie,          
no such world exists,
no such world full of paper:          
paper suggests       the possibility of words,
their capture;       
what is there               that can be captured?                   
                                   when i think of lack
i think of how these days i don't read, or write, or talk
to people,                        i only dream of conversation,
even in the tightening midst of people
even when my mouth – of its own accord – seems to
form slippery multi-limbed sentences,     i still dream
of conversation     
that rises jaggedly out of the roots
of the words i breathe
curling snake-like to people, phantoms 
of conversation
that drown out all talk of people all their talk
wide expanses of unhad conversations
paring down to a single concentrated moment
like a line in a poem
i think of lack        like sleep that hardens into a bee
the next morning, a buzzing glitch humming in a recess of my head
as if through all hours of sleep
the moments have merely        gathered
sullenly        without meaning— 
                     declension of rain down glass;
i may have slept        but inside, an eye 
has remained open         
staring all night at the ceiling.
i think of lack         crowding in;
late in the evening, as i return home,            
                           the road is choked
with a bottleneckful of people
raucously making their way to disperse
an idol of ganesh           nine days after celebrations.
as the road throngs with delayed festivities
its unpunctuality spills over,
the road incongruously aflutter with men,
its sheer afterweight of noise
almost only an echo,
as if someone has plucked a plug out of a basin – 
        men slosh around in circular jostling ripples
sucked into an unidentified centre somewhere
where        i imagine
lies the centre of gravity
of your vortex too,        maybe.  
standing at the fringes
of this unexpected procession
stamping itself into indisputable presence,
i may talk of lack 
in terms of       an endless judder of people,      
only this Morse repetition of everyday waking up & birdcalling
the obscure consumption of light, of laughter,
                                 of words, of people, too,
as they slowly work themselves into flesh &
      one day you extend an arm, reaching out 
to their fragile slow-withering body & touch & gasp & realise they are,

                     all this passing right through you,
the here & now of people,       their sometimes,
all chuntering
& sifting through your endless heart      a sieve


Feature–Contemporary Indian English Poetry

    Editorial: GJV Prasad

    Abhay K
    Aishwarya Iyer
    Akhil Katyal
    Amlanjyoti Goswami
    Ananya S Guha
    Arup K Chatterjee
    CS Bhagya
    Debasish Lahiri
    Devdan Chaudhuri
    Dhananjay Singh
    Gertrude Lamare
    Goirick Brahmachari
    Joie Bose
    Maaz bin Bilal
    Malsawmi Jacob
    Meera Sagar
    Nabina Das
    Nitoo Das
    Priya Sarukkai-Chabria
    Rajesh Kumar
    Ranu Uniyal
    rizio yohannan raj
    Rochelle Potkar
    Saima Afreen
    Sanjeev Sethi
    Semeen Ali
    Shelly Bhoil
    Smeetha Bhoumik
    Srilata K
    Sudeep Sen
    Sukrita Paul Kumar
    Sumana Roy
    Tabish Khair
    Taseer Gujral
    Uddipana Goswami
    Usha Akella
    Uttaran Das Gupta
    Vivek Narayanan
    Linda Ashok

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