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Dec 2020 · 227
she wanted to be everything
Kelsey Banerjee Dec 2020
she wanted to be everything and nothing
roll universe in her palm
like a marble,
stars flame on her tongue
she spoke of a world
greater than this one
when she finally felt moon rock
cold hard basalt
heavy in her hands
she missed malleable soil stretched
into beds of clovers and daffodils,
craved the warmth of a star.
Oct 2020 · 357
poison
Kelsey Banerjee Oct 2020
you couldn't eat right for days
tongue swollen, scabbed
red like Christmas lilies.
we drank whiskey, slowly
slowly
there's poison in love, somewhere
sneaking behind concern
disguised it rouses old wounds
dreams left unfulfilled,
when finally you could feast again,
we found our plates empty.
Kelsey Banerjee Sep 2020
The List:
carrot, eggplant, arbi,
capsicum, green peas -
press one for more options -
apples, new list apps
applesauce and ketchup
not Heinz but the cheaper one,
a new pressure cooker because the whistle doesn’t work
And with each tweak it tizzles out more,
theek nahi hai, yaar  
no matter how many times you take it in,
it’s just jugaad again,
a permanent temporary fix,
so we need a new one, stainless
steel and big, bara
to cook all of your dreams.
grand total rages against your wallet,
paper thin but it’s digital,
anyway,
your eyes glaze, blaze
as the bag boy, too tired, too hassled,
too underpaid squishes the eggs
beneath the cooker
the shells quake in your eardrums
the smell of something rotten
beneath all those discounts.
BTW, I've now put my poetry book on more platforms and in print. Check it out here: http://kelseybanerjee.com/shy-anger-poetry-collection/
Sep 2020 · 248
baklava
Kelsey Banerjee Sep 2020
snow never comes early down south
if luck kisses our brow maybe
an inch near the Epiphany
those days we huddle near the windows
wrapped in wool and hot cocoa
baklava bleeding honey, our eyes
nailed to the fences watching cardinals
red wings flapping like poinsettia petals
a warm breath on a chilled grey sky.
Kelsey Banerjee Sep 2020
when the monsoon came
she cursed. She had been asking
those folks in the co-op
twiddling their thumbs and licking
the edges of their rupee notes
from the maintenance bills,
she’d ask them
to repair the terrace aching
and wheezing with water
from the early drizzles but
the treasurer preferred a Kashmir scarf
and the chairman a new scooter,
secretary painted his living room and added twenty rupees
for a samosa for the loyal watchman
and so she slept beneath flickering lights
hoping the wires didn’t blaze up,
consuming her whole.
I just started a ko-fi page for my writing, Lenormand readings, and more. Check it out here: Ko-fi.com/kelseybanerjee
Sep 2020 · 128
absentminded mornings
Kelsey Banerjee Sep 2020
forgotten,
egg yolk splits, sautées
golden sun between butter and pepper
white halo hardens, boils bubbling a ***** browning
while the one yellow eye runs
with the clock hands
carefully I peel the rubbery flesh away
lay it on saucer, slather bread with butter
already wondering what wry churns the day brings.
Aug 2020 · 174
tapestry
Kelsey Banerjee Aug 2020
I hung my apron to dry
let the wind carry it, cradling
cloth with branch claws and
dancing legs all the way to hell
and back, embroidering glory
in each stitched parsley leaf,
I unthreaded each with a brittle needle
used each thin thread to create
my own tapestry.
Just a reminder that my first poetry ebook is 75% on Kindle for this week only: getbook.at/ShyAnger
Aug 2020 · 246
family tree
Kelsey Banerjee Aug 2020
wind blistered water
stars collapse into redwood
love the outer ring
an attempt at a haiku
Aug 2020 · 113
Announcement
Kelsey Banerjee Aug 2020
Hi everyone!

One of the reasons I've been quiet the last two weeks or so is because I've been setting up my first poetry e-book.

This week I have it on sale on Kindle for $0.99. You can get it here if you are interested: getbook.at/ShyAnger

Otherwise, next time I post, I'll have another poem. :-)
Aug 2020 · 286
a tale of two mothers
Kelsey Banerjee Aug 2020
plastic:
straight, good posture
white and abrasive as baking soda
thrifty, ideal of motherhood
hosting new years parties and other
get-togethers for the kids while sipping,
socially, of course, a margarita,
she buys her children, ruddy-nosed
devils, gifts while their friends stand with empty hands,
letting those other kids,
kids with empty pockets,
sit to the side,
and know their place.

steel:
another mother she
drives thirty miles to pick up a daughter’s friend,
male, lanky, and for cops
the wrong color at midnight
from a gas station in the wrong part of town
which is really just code
for poor and less white
and she takes him home to
sleep on the sofa
gives him hot tea
and in the morning pancakes with eggs
she doesn’t ask about the bruises
on his forearms or his heart
she just feeds him and drives him
to the library with a sandwich in old Tupperware
he doesn’t need to return
although he does with a thank-you note
and gratitude in his heart,
despite all the bitterness around him.
Aug 2020 · 142
2000 degrees
Kelsey Banerjee Aug 2020
You want to roast me like an eggplant, all brittle flakes and bleeding oil, as if that puckered off-white skin underneath reveals significant sins. But I’m a ******* diamond. Not rare or edible or remotely useful, you’ll only find the stubborn carbon Hollywood calls beautiful. They fail to mention, or maybe you forgot, I was born bearing the earth on my back and my crucible of 2000 degrees makes your stove look like a nightlight.

So if you want to cut me to watch me break, be careful - I’ll shatter your knife.
Aug 2020 · 199
same old thing
Kelsey Banerjee Aug 2020
stove juts out
stuns in sixty-year-old kitchen
shiny, electric,
everyone marvels
so much better than the gas stove
as if the functions are not the same.
I, misled, maybe
have no newfound love
for false hearths
and work dens masquerading as homes.
we never knew food
just kosher salt, pepper, ketchup
a dash of rosemary
yet our curves labored, steamed hours
heaped over knotted heels
at the end of the workday
you were so tired
and we ate whatever you could manage.

I desired to taste liberty,
imagined I had it on a slow burner
simmering with
coriander seeds, cumin, cinnamon
chili powder bleeding into broth
parsley finely cut
into slivers for garnish grew
dry in my hands,
waiting.

Somehow I ended up
back in that same kitchen
a dream at my lips,
hungrier than before.
Another reminder that if you want a free ARC of my poetry collection, just write me a message. :-)
Aug 2020 · 370
she serves silence
Kelsey Banerjee Aug 2020
she serves silence,
it lies on the tongue
like ash.
her quiet cuts
jagged,
tears the hem of my heart
I unravel,
and she throws my words away
with burnt-black peppers.
Jul 2020 · 468
self-care is prosperity
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
sun dries my hair
thick and sopping with
dahi, coconut oil,
on the terrace
I peer into the endlessness
of all four directions and
the summer haze
does not halt my lack of
hesitation, inhibition.
lokhi hands release the robe and
I embrace the morning sun.
Jul 2020 · 128
back then
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
two years
she plunges into frigid
waters.
do you remember
what they used to call us?

loved, maybe,
but only by those
who misunderstand it.

she waits
unshaven, unwashed,
exhausted
from her past,
for her future.
I'm currently offering readers a chance to read my upcoming poetry collection, Shy Anger. Send me a message if you are interested.
Jul 2020 · 300
we all think too much
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
we tried to bury the dead
clawing at memories
hard as beet roots,
garnet colocasia,
rotting,
manicured nails in caked film,
dirt and violet water
whimper séance spells
at our ankles -

I tried to listen
but did not understand -

were we burying sorrow,
or digging it up?
Jul 2020 · 229
preservation
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
you smear haldi,
groping the fish
like a beggar grasping at coin.
each fleshy slice
similar to tree rings
smothered in salt
and cast into the plastic
tuberware casket
blood still red near the bone.
already you fantasize
about every delectable dish
mustard seed on your tongue,
meanwhile, I stare at the eyes,
not queasy
but uncomfortable,
scales clinging to my shoes.
haldi is Hindi for turmeric. I learned to cook while in India, so much of my cooking vocab is actually not in English anymore. xD
Jul 2020 · 135
hunger pains
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
For want of you,
I shall not shy away
from even the crumbs
on your fingertips
even a single speck of
dust
if it brushes against your tenderness
is as sweet as nectar
against my lips
Jul 2020 · 139
Meditation in Kathmandu
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
From wood to wood
teak faces painted red
I wash your feet
with salt from heaven’s rim.

I observe
the eye of god
from our window I
witness
the carving of sorrow
it sprouts from Shiva’s
black hair, the Ganga
seeps from it like a serpent.

we go to the temple
complaints like cigarettes
in the stub box
smoke suffocates our hearts
so that we can offer
god only dead things.
If you haven't signed up yet, I'm still hosting this book bundle giveaway here: http://kelseybanerjee.com/summer-giveaway-2020/
Jul 2020 · 94
blame
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
at every err
the rim of his voice ignites
a flame bickers at the edge of reason.

you see,
he casts blame
like the sun casts shadow,
each complaint
as complaint as a mother tongue.

could have, should have, would have
I toss the words away
into the tones of the sea,
and hope to pluck
resilience
from that same shore.
Jul 2020 · 297
on the daily
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
On the daily

yesterday she said:
you talk too much
please don’t tell
the truth,
your aspirations or your dreams
to anyone,
they just want gossip.

but -
today she says:
talk, why don’t you?
so rude to not even utter
a single syllable.
at least try to speak.

kilos of misunderstandings
burden my tongue
all her word taste of salt
that won’t dissolve,
but I wait,
expecting one day,
she’ll offer sweet wine.
Jul 2020 · 148
two homes
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
if I stay, I miss the BBQ,
if I leave, I miss the mangoes.
There is no hope for
those of us trapped
between two worlds.
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
I wanted to thank everyone for being so amazing. I started posting here nearly two months ago now, soon after I started writing a poem a day with the goal of 100 days. I completed my challenge earlier this week, and I couldn't have done it without being on here.  

Everyone's positive words have been really encouraging.

That's why I wanted to take a break from posting a poem and share this giveaway I'm hosting with you. I'm giving away 5 books - one large one of poetry and 4 of international short stories.

If it's your cup of tea, you can enter here:

http://kelseybanerjee.com/summer-giveaway-2020/

Thank you all again! Looking forward to posting poems again tomorrow. :-)
Jul 2020 · 115
a signature
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
We slump,
cracks in the cumin seed siding
outside the police station,
stale air suffocates the sun
as it sinks below
a creek and a trash heap

visa papers
clutched like the cloak of God,
a 100 rupee note crumbled in your jean pocket -
just in case.
is it a crime to expect the worst
in spite of order?

blazing dry heat smothers our lungs,
we resemble
shrunken palm leaves held only
by the stone above us.
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
what have you done?
inhibitions and doubts
smell like spoilt auflauf
and the day after summer.
your words are advertisements
for another conversation,
but I am not ready.

German:
was hast du gemacht?
die hemmungen und zweifel
riechen wie verderbenes auflauf
und am tag nach der sommer.
deinen wörter sind werbung
für ein andere unterhaltung,
aber ich bin nicht bereit.
Jul 2020 · 108
memories
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
she handles memories like a crime scene,
each shared photograph shows
a clue -
oil stains on armchairs, misplaced magazines
she’d mistake a sob of despair
for laughter,
love for pity.
every remembrance she mars with red ink,
as if to tell her side of a story
that never existed.
Jul 2020 · 104
shadows
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
our shadows mature
faster than us,
curve towards the light
edges sharp fringes of
empty pomegranate shells
and even when the night consumes them
they wait beside us.
Jul 2020 · 358
myth
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
looking back
we were a myth
children,
playing marbles in the street,
speaking softly as if
words could build a marriage.
Jul 2020 · 276
the mountain
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
an obstacle
they said of the mountain
its white peak piercing
moonlit tapestry trembled
against the stone,
their complaints nothing but twigs
in feasting campfire.
Jul 2020 · 161
regrets
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
yesterday I saw you.
today only your scent remains.
tomorrow, that too will vanish.

you said
the ache for home rumbles in your chest.
I tried to sooth it with words
in the absence of medicine
or a plane ticket.

when you left I moved,
became an immigrant
and I understood what it meant
to live without living.

I forgo the mall mehndi,
the astrologer on his maroon cushion,
order from the pani puri wala
a samosa and small talk -
for a moment
we breach liminality
but then I owe him thirty rupees
and I go alone,
sitting safe from summer heat
snack untouched.

I wait for the monsoon and hope
you will return for the mangoes,
perhaps then I can tell you
everything I meant to say
yesterday.
Jul 2020 · 127
rain prayers
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
in this scorched, sun-baked season
we prayed for rain
and when it came
summer heat blazed
as if blooming,
polyester chaffed against
cotton, against skin sticky.
we filled our teacups with humidity
and decided the earth
knew itself better
than we.
Jul 2020 · 156
9 to 5
Kelsey Banerjee Jul 2020
From the desk
her spine creaks,
each rubbery cartilage
like a phone pole.
each breath realigns
bone and belief  
she types away her thoughts
knuckles thinking faster than
brain cells, and with clacks.
it’s only been four hours,
starting into screen light
she wonders when she’ll see the sun.
Jun 2020 · 406
he knows
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
how many rapes jokes does it take
to be funny?
he knows the answer is none.
no one had to tell Amnon
the sin in taking Tamar,
nor was Duryodhana confused
when he patted his thigh
mocking Draupadi,
nor Dusshasana dumb
when attempting to disrobe her.
yet you chant
men need to understand,
to read and watch
our unending torment
to understand evil.
Jun 2020 · 295
for athena
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
directionally challenged
athens is the only city
her feet knows,
she wanders down alleyways
undiscovered
but familiar
and sits beneath an orange tree.
she takes one plump
sunset shaded fruit,
peels back thick skin,
juice gushes down her arm.
yet she smells cypress trees,
olive oil offerings, and cinnamon.
she whispers prayer,
nimble fingers pressing
a golden owl.
Jun 2020 · 81
gray space
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
some days
I spring to life at dawn
well-oiled and eager I
glide on tiles as if made
of sunflowers

and other
I drag my body
from the sheets
mumble poems,
sweet nothings dull crayons
with which I color the gray space.
Jun 2020 · 222
sweet limes
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
you ask for sweet lime
scent sour
I carve carefully
the seeds from the nectar
each white pip
tumbles on the floral saucer
as if dragon bones
divining your daily fortune.
I toss them to the crows,
palm-sized sparrows
so somewhere, perhaps
a tree will grow
and those limes
might actually be sweet.
Jun 2020 · 129
no wealth in work
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
hi again darling,
this week I worked
so hard my hamstrings
are screeching from sitting,
and somehow I’ve learned to sleep
eyes wide open.

Honey I’m tired
but I don’t mind bringing home bacon.
after all, if you’re going to call me
lakshmi of the house,
I better find some gold
before you blow the conch.

this week I worked
through a sea of dead
names and
dead faces of friendly strangers
that kinda looked like you
and I toiled through another
pandemic-ridden seven days
even from home I’m wearing
a mask because
it’s too hard to see tragedy
and be working instead.

So on my break
I retweet
fleet,
press some of that goddess gold
into the digital donations,
because even a world away
even if you don’t see it,
there’s little wealth
in work.
Jun 2020 · 99
tied
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
no one tells you
being an immigrant
is being a stallion
front hooves tied knotted
course rope
chaffing at your ankles
holed up in a greener pasture
gnawing at tender leaves
while watching
acres away
those you love
wild and free, wind
whistling against their cheeks,
a throbbing ache to be with them
but knowing you cannot.
Jun 2020 · 565
end of summer
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
overcast
you sit
**** on mango skin
the juice on your chin
drips on
basil leaves,
your hands already wet
before the rain
we watch the yellow mountains
spring back to life
verdant, almost emerald
green foliage tender at the end of summer,
nourished by the dead roots
beneath softened soil.
Jun 2020 · 360
it's not literal
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
they say
great men found
enlightenment caves,
outside civilization.
unconvinced,
in my high rise I look out
over the land.
what wisdom
can one find eavesdropping
in dusky caverns?
what knowledge can be
gleaned outside the home,
which cannot be found within it?
Jun 2020 · 394
value
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
they repeated
that your story didn’t matter -
a mantra
they couldn’t calculate
the value of the sun.
wrote this for a friend
Jun 2020 · 158
dishes
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
steel plates warped
bend with the burden of
dust,
I keep washing
skin wrinkles
weeps
still I scrub
until the plate breaks
the silver scar
lined with blood.
I throw it away,
unwrap a new one
knowing that tomorrow
more dust will come.
Jun 2020 · 180
How much?/কত
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
a heap of rice
with small stones and salt
this red sari I am wearing
is a story
I cannot write.
So I am walking
with my bag of rice.
I give it to maa,
to you I give the salt
the stones I put between
today and tomorrow.

Bangla:

কত দেব?
এক গাদা ভাত
ছোট পাথর এবং নুন সঙ্গে
একটা লাল শাড়ি আমি পরা
এতা একটা গল্প
আমি লিখতে পারি না।
তখন হাটছি
ভাতের থলে সঙ্গে
আমি মা কে দিয়েছি
তোমাকে আমি নুন দিয়েছি
পাথর আমি রাখছি
আজ এবং আগামীকাল মাঝখানে।
Playing around, working with some Bengali vocabulary and trying to make a picture with some simple images.
Jun 2020 · 405
planning
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
so many yesterdays
sacrificed calendars,
penciled dates
and whimsies called
dreams
Jun 2020 · 126
lost time
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
I wish I had
more memories of us
beaded like pearls
on a red string of fate
and circumstance,
more days
of spontaneous dusk walks,
skipping school to
create worlds far more beautiful
than this one,
more hours
nibbling on leftovers
or splurging on a mid-day meal
laughing as you drop
some hot sauce on your collar,
more minutes
in restive silence
lounging on plaid sofa
a book on your chest,
our hands holding each other
like we have all the time in the world.
Jun 2020 · 136
locked out
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
my body is a vault
steel bars ribs bared
lungs press against hot bone
your name a password
encrypted
on every vein and even
my muscles remember
every depression in your thumbprint
but even that isn’t enough
to unlock
what builds within me.
Jun 2020 · 106
bridges between us
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
hands wring
cold sweat,
dry tongue runs
along teeth
each lap a question,
an anxiety
to tell you,
softly, my thoughts.
should lovers swim
such a wide chasm
of thought? finger tips
barely brush the abyss
but then I think
about the prophet
palms clammy
feverish reciting
each word of his explanation
wondering if even his wife
would think him mad.
perhaps stressed divides
can still be bridges.
Jun 2020 · 274
draupadi
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
I dreamt of draupadi,
birthed by fire
foot on black coals
smoldering
face smothered
soot
an offering vengeance -
mocked, name soiled
a scapegoat for war
because of a purpose
dictated by her father,
for laughter imaged from her lips
a blame only a man or five,
a few producers, even,
can shift to a woman.
Jun 2020 · 83
inside the salamander
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
I hide
beneath the rock
like a salamander
clings to streamside
stones
once I held one
against my thumb,
on my palm it squirmed
the universe in its veins
and without a word
I returned it home
to moss green and rain-guzzling
grass,
my three-year-old
white Nike’s flooded and cracked
mud seeping through the soles.
Jun 2020 · 109
trust
Kelsey Banerjee Jun 2020
you weren’t there
so I went on asking
cards questions
each word a plea
for something else
and in return
each image printed
in monochrome blue
offered an answer
you would have hated,
but each one
sour against my tongue
sounded more honest
than your praise.
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