"I want to write till my last breath." Interview, Spark Dec 2014

The December 2014 issue is the 60th monthly issue of the journal and thus a special occasion for the entire team and for the readers who relish the magazine month after month. To mark the occasion, Anupama and Vani - editors, Spark have put together a pearl string of interviews with the writers they cherish and who contribute regularly to their magazine. The end result is indeed an hour or two of mesmerizing reading and enrichment. I too happen to be a bead in that pearl necklace. You can read my interview here:

http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=8094

 

Cracking Sugar

 

For the record let me tell you

that your silence has reached me.

 

The clusters of green pepper in the forest

dangling like earrings from ears of tall branches 

slice the night air pungently

like a sword lancing silk

and I know that sound.

It is the same as the silence 

convulsing noiselessly between us.

 

Let me tell you 

that I imagine your hands 

rippling in the cosmos

touching everything - stars, moon

the ankles of darkness, the elbows of waiting...

everything but this void festering 

between your tongue and mine

This wordless blister

This mute lesion 

defining us, the way a scar defines an accident.

 

Let me tell you 

that the world is no longer hunger, thirst or spasm 

or satin or silk or velvet...

It is this withdrawal -

this pull out of resonance

that once bed rocked our lake,

docked in our animation

but now lies buried beneath scabs of choices.

 

I watch it glisten and harden 

like sugar cracking at boiling point

... growing opaque as it coats our lives.

 

For the record let me tell you

that the pain is in the decision

not in the silence itself.

*********

Ashes Of A Day

Ashes Of A Day

Already, the day is in my hands

though it's not yet broken free of the night.

Fragmented and fractured at the crack of dawn.

All of it crumpled like ash on my palm,

before it's even begun.

A day lodged whole in the oesophagus 

A start slapped to the finish line like an unhedged bet.

Nothingness riding the body like a fever

Mercury rising in thermometer veins, like hysterical laughter.

*********

Black Waters - a poem dedicated to the cellular jail in Andaman and Nicobar islands.

My poem titled Black Waters is the featured poem on Hour Of Writes for their contest on Treason on 4th November 2014.

Sharing the poem here for all my readers: 

 

Black Waters

The revolutionaries were exiled for life 

in a puce colored colonial prison 

on an archipelago, untraceable on the maps.

Every breath harrowed, black-hued or not at all.

Iron contraptions for the neck and ankles
Coarse jute tunics for torsos. Rations - fit for sparrows
Flogging that made buttocks bleed.
Permitted to urinate just once a day.

Tortured and abused on hand-driven oil mills
extracting 10 lbs of coconut oil, like an indemnity.
Their nerveless hands slack, their countenance fractured
Up in the heavens, stars glistened moistly for these rebels.

No one ever escaped these Black Waters, the excruciating seas, the agonizing oceans.
Only screams made it out. Raided the air,
cracked the winds, lay scattered like dead leaves on the islands...
like fragments of a tormented mind.

To think that political dissent could be like this. 
Indictment could be like this.
That a man might lose all dignity, die of hunger, lose his mind,
be crucified at the edifice of endurance but gain a country, nevertheless.
*************

My poem wins the NIRBHAYA book contest

A month ago I wrote about Kusum Choppra who has compiled a book of short stories titled NIRBHAYA. The stories represent the core courage that women possess and exhibit when faced with bitter obstacles in life. As a part of the exercise to promote the book, the team Organised a contest inviting writings that  portray the indomitable spirit of womanhood. I submitted my entry too - a poem titled Attracted To Sin, and it was adjudged the winner.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/nirbhaya/entry-7-attracted-to-sin/881604378540317

 

Poem in Earthen Lamp Journal

Proud to featured in the Earthen Lamp Journal edited by Divya Dubey. I dedicate this poem Black Lead, to all my Tibetan Friends...for their interminable struggle against oppression and exploitation and their indomitable spirit to claim their share of justice on this globe. I also dedicate it to the sweet, friendly relations that India shares with Tibet and Indians share with Tibetans at a deeply human level.

http://www.earthenlampjournal.com/content.php?content_id=121

 

Nothing Like Winning! First Prize in the Wordweaver's Contest.

I submitted my entry to the WordWeaver's Contest in August, I think. Or perhaps earlier than that. My poem House For Sale was inspired by a true incident in Mumbai. Poetry is often triggered that way - by the things we see happening around us. This was one such poem.

During the selection process my entry first made it to the Longlist and then a month later to the shortlist.

The results were announced today i.e. 1st November 2014. I was pleased that my poem was chosen the winner from amongst so many wonderful entries! Yes...there's nothing quite like winning! I'm all smiles now. Thank you Escribes!

Here's the poem:- 

 House For Sale

The bungalow at Marine Drive is on sale;

the last of its owners has died 

leaving behind walls lunatic with visions

and red luscious dates ashen with grief

The mist gliding inwards from the Arabian Sea

like an aerophane of damp ice blue chiffon

sketching a familiar face on the house's bleached exterior, 

stubborn about not forgetting...

not forgetting the old man...and how, when he sat down to write his Will, 

he realized he had no one to leave it to, except the theatre group,

which he'd attended just for the heck of it,

just so that he didn't choke on his evenings.

How, when he'd put down his Sheaffer pen, with the faintest of sighs,

he'd simply picked up his Lantus - carefully calibrated the insulin to his calorie intake, 

popped pills, fluffed up the pillows with empty thoughts and dreamless ness,

blown kisses to the chrysanthemums and dahlias before drifting off to sleep forever.

The sea couldn't forget the stench of his peace;

such absolute stillness, not even the neighbors stirred...

until death rode the winds like a brass knocker and begged for attention.

Of course the birds had cried themselves hoarse. Frogs had croaked non-stop.

And now the house was up for sale. The theatre group didn't want it.

Wanted only the money...not the sentimental shroud of an old man,

not the front porch that reached out to strangers like a handshake 

not the sunlight that fell just short of good Feng Shui.

I believe the day it was sold, the sea receded - like serotonin levels in anxiety,

the mud path that led to the house became mottled, the humus wept openly,

moss curled up, looked tawny. Dry leaves scratched each other restlessly.

All loyal to an old man who was one of them now.

*********

Four Poems in RædLeafPoetry-India

Linda Ashok or Lee as I call her is a poetry promoter with a difference. Yes she, like many others has a wonderful website to promote excellent poetry from all over the world. Yes, she also has a wonderful poetic sensibility like many other splendid poets. What sets Lee apart, is her soul. Her passionate, righteous, tender soul that bleeds like an open wound when the underprivileged suffer or when injustice is in the air and burns like a hot flame, scorching anyone trying to pass off mediocrity for real creative talent and trying to cut corners to just put their work out into the world. For Lee, poetry must be gut wrenching, sword-like, blending blood and tears together and yet flying away tenderly with your soul.

How I love this 28 year old, upright, liberated poet cum promoter of poetry!  I'll have all you readers know that she chose my picture to go with the poems herself, from my Facebook album! That's Lee!

Four of my poems are up on the site. 

http://rlpoetry.org/vinita-agrawal/

Autumn Surrender - poem in NorthEast Review

http://northeastreview.com/2014/10/22/autumn-surrender/

Autumn Surrender 

Immense.

Autumn is a season of sown miracles.

A weather-vane, bleeding red.

Starched auburn perfection.

Old spirits of heaven and earth

torching soil and sky, like love.

 

With turrets of blushing earth piercing air;

Plum tinted, glinting like a rooster's feathery back

celebrating something no one knows anything about

bringing alive the worn-out tyre of the earth.

Nothing prudent about autumn;

it snatches our eyes through open lips.

 

Nothing passive -

it forces us to listen to something other than ourselves.

Our heartfelt moans sink in it,

mottle the sienna maple leaves with treacherous tales.

The cold battles of our minds steal some warmth

from its melting ochre pyres and flow past time.

*********

Land's End - poem published in Stockholm Literary Review

 Land's End

The souls of pavements

and the silence of footsteps 

that have nowhere to go

slope down into the sea

here, at Land's End.

Salt licks air.

Something unfinished

lies in the net of the night

like fallen stars

and the railings 

mating perpetually 

with the sea's spray, 

beckon to leap

into the mess of my past

hoping to become food for fish.

So many sandbags of me

heavy with touch

are lined against the shore's crags.

Vastness floats to me

seeps inside my jute.

I look like earth's lips:

Parched

Parted 

Puckered 

Dry, as all the nothingness

that pants like a tired, broken leaf

seeking Land's End

and then, the endless burn of seas.

*********

Bare of Shade - Published in Stockholm Literary Review

Bare of Shade

They said I'd reach home if I reached your heart.

So I took the odd path

went left 

followed blood trails

rabbit burrows

wizened grass, dry wells.

Until I reached un mended fences

barbed wires, geographical chalk lines, 

morbid like skeletal grins.

Then I went right 

walked through eyes that shone

like sweat in the hollow of the collar bone

followed the scratch of the twig in the mud -

followed wilted tuberoses

strewn on the road like tortured, white, fairy brooms.

Until I reached alphabets, vernacular kick starters  

poetry and the rustling-bamboo flutter of turning pages

jaundiced by sun's mania.

And then I knew

Not reaching

Not settling

Not winning

Not being

I knew that homes are bare of shade.

They hang like dead birds from wires of distance.

Claw at air to send litanies that make even seasoned Gods kneel.

Homes are in those pining gazes we exchange

when we pretend not to look at each other,

aware of the galaxies that so easily keep us apart.

*********

Two Poems in Stockholm Review

I chanced upon the call for submissions to the Stockholm Literary review quite inadvertently. And suddenly many memories of my father's college days in Stockholm, Sweden came alive in my mind. Suddenly the thought of submitting two of my recent writes to the journal seemed more appealing. It seemed to symbolism a personal connection with the place where my father did his masters.

I sent the editors two poems - both freshly written, both particularly special to me. Quite unusually, the editors got back to me in a couple of days stating that they would like to publish both the poems. Of course I was pleased...firstly because they accepted both poems and secondly because their come-back time was so short! Inviting you to read both poems at the link below :-

http://thestockholmreview.org/the-stagnelius-section/vinita-agrawal/