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 Jun 2020
Kelsey Banerjee
I dreamt of draupadi,
birthed by fire
foot on black coals
face smothered
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.
 Nov 2018
I am the cushion that life first rests in,
The crib meticulously created layer by layer,
The soft bed of flowers, glistening like blood,
The protector of all beings, the seat of care

My love is fuelled by the silver calmness
I gently extract from the first lunar night,
When the moon emerges from its dark sabbatical,
Armed with tales it gathered from the other side

Each day, its luminosity deepens, its stories
Turn more vivid, more wrenching, more morose,
I soak it all in- the pain, the suffering, the injustice,
And colour myself, in the darkest shade of rose

My red is no ordinary red, it is the
Culmination of every sister's deep cry,
It is the crimson of anger that can only be felt,
By the cradle entrusted with preservation of life

I am full and brimming, with pangs too strong
And hues of vermilion too dark to contain,
I rock back and forth, my cot full of stories,
Twisting, flailing and writhing in pain

And then I burst out and let freely flow,
The dam I created with laments of loss and love
Painted with conversations lasting until twilight,
With my cratered friend in the skies above

Petal by petal, as I lose my form and disintegrate,
She is connected to each woman's cry that I assimilate,
Flexed at the pelvis, helpless yet so strong, she listens,
And understands the lore I sing about, every twenty-eighth.
 Jun 2018
At the darkest end of the rainbow
It lies,
The balance of vitality gone askew
Unleashing its evil side,
It creeps slowly then bares fangs
With speed,
Potent beyond regulation
Its aberrant seeds,
That will grow into whatever they want,
That will grow however they want,
That will grow as much as they want,
Taking shapes of
Flesh and blood and bile and bone
And twisting their faces so
They're recognisable no more,
As if mocking us and our prayers
For Growth-
The immoral, the immortal side of the coin,
Cancer, the evil twin of Life.
 Nov 2017
But how can I forget you,
I met you at an age when
Everything seemed possible,
There was time left for everything,
When my mind body heart and soul
Were blank pages open to all colors,
When I stayed up half night to catch
That song on the radio which reminded me of you
I met you at the age when the touch
Of your name written on my hand
Gave me butterflies,
You became all my love songs
You became all my poetry
You became all my innocence,
My optimism, my naivete, my hope,
You were my year seventeeth,
And even on my thirty-seventh,
Fifty-seventh, seventy-seventh,
You will forever be my year seventeenth,
So how can i forget you?
 Jul 2017
How empowering it is to be able to sprinkle
Just the amount of turmeric powder,
And to know just how much of a pinch,
Is that pinch of salt and coriander,
Which'll swirl around together in sputtering oil,
Dancing with crisp bay leaves and cloves,
Bathing in the crimson of finely ground chilli,
Forming a fragrance engulfing the sacred stove,
The fragrance that defines every hand that cooks,
Each concoction of spices distinctly set apart
By infinite proportions of masalas and herbs,
Carving infinite routes of satisfying the heart,
The kitchen is the powerhouse of a home,
And the ones who man it are technologists
Who day after day, create curry that reaches
Not just the gut but the self of who consumes it,
It is only when you stand, teaspoon in hand,
While lightly brown onions look up to you in anticipation
Do you realise that forming food is no simple, menial task
It is a scientific, artistic and spritual exploration.
 Jul 2017
I thought I had enough weight on my shoulders,
Till I saw him
Neatly pile up all our suitcases,
Tie them with knots tight and sure,
Then place the burden that was his livelihood
Onto his curving back, bending it more,
And turn with a swiftness that defied
The grey of his hair and the lines on his face
The coolie walked fast and proud,
While we, empty-handed, struggled to stay apace.
 Jul 2017
When you're born out of a broken marriage,
You unwittingly become part of it,
No one asked you if you wanted to,
Yet you mediate,
As you grow, you participate,
You cease to be a child very soon,
You are the third spouse who entered
Way after the honeymoon,
You live with the everyday-fear of this
Arrangement falling apart,
You don't know why you're saving it,
Despite it being so toxic to all three minds and hearts,
But, as if you were born for just that purpose,
You strive for it everyday,
You take sides everyday,
Being a successful last straw
Is your daily pretend-play,
And suppressed resentment, your best friend,
Those born out of a broken marriage will know,
Having a loving father and a loving mother
Is not the same as having a family where
Everyone loves each other.
 Jul 2017
Cool mountain breezes tranquilize
My heavy lids, as I shut my eyes
And soak in the graceful scenes,
Aboard the majestic Himalayan Queen,
With her rhythmic chuk-chukking,
Her coaches lazily chugging,
Each slow screech of her ancient brakes transporting
One to an era of few hurries and fewer worries,
Look at her, winding round and round,
Piercing cloud after fluffy cloud,
Almost like a moving tiara adorning
The artistic Simla greens,
That span as far as the eye can see,
Only punctuated by nature's unbridled revelries
Of wild, white flowery shrubs
And lone, or in pairs, monkeys,
And moss-laden tunnels galore-
"Recorded for this route as hundred and three,
But numbering hundred and two in reality",
Points out a septuagenarian co-passenger knowledgeably,
His random trivia prompting me out of my reverie,
Albeit, temporarily!
For soon enough, my senses slip once again
Into a playful camaraderie,
With the innocent romance that only
The mountains can awaken inside of me.
 Apr 2017
It would start like a bubble
in my seven-year old chest,
An ever-expanding ball of
doom, substituting my breath

I was a child, yet I knew death,
I would try inhale- silence
I would hope it would fix itself
but, when I'd try exhale- silence

There was ugly music though,
It rose as I forced my ribs to expand,
Jarring, polyphonic, cacophony,
Of airways brutally locked and jammed.

When a child learns to measure April
nights, with the hours spent in the pain
Of coughing through close-to-nil breaths,
And breathing through coughing again,

One wonders at the extent of the inhumanity
Of those, who are quick to discreetly say,
"Hush, do not speak of this illness to anyone,
It's no illness at all, in the first place!"

"And, here, take these magic pills and potions,
They're slow but will take away all her agony,
No no, don't listen to those white-coated liars,
You don't need puffs of drugs into her body!"

So I ate all those pills and
Drank all those potions,
And I stayed up those nights,
Waiting for their promised actions,

And I went to school the next day,
Groggy, breathless and sleepy-eyed,
Because not-being-seen with an inhaler was
More vital than the breaths of a seven-year old child.
 Apr 2017
Every time you'll set your pen
To begin a poetic rendezvous,
You'll see it'll never be the same as yesterday,
For your poetry will change with you

Every day is a different breath,
Every breath holds a different sigh,
Every sigh holds a different feeling,
Of infinite kinds of lows and highs

And infinite ways there are, you'll see,
Of putting to words your heart beats,
Every creation will mould itself, closer
And closer to your fluid entity

Of course, there'll be times when the words
Will appear to have forever gone away,
But don't fill yourself with doubts then,
For your heart and your mind are still at play

And when you'll least expect it to,
Your poetry will dutifully return,
With little surprises and anecdotes
It collected while on vacation

Don't be amazed then, when the ink rolls out
To find some wonders and marvels brand new,
For your poetry will change with you,
And, your poetry will change you.
 Apr 2017
I've always wondered
What it'd be like
To make love in a tent,
Fragrance of soil and sweat
And urgent desire in the air,
With the dark sky lit up with
galaxies and galaxies
of stars and the letters of my name,
Punctuated by your breaths as you'd
Chant it like a prayer,
Risqué and **** and earthy,
Rawer than the last time,
Rawer than that time,
Whispers so titillating they'd
Make the silent night blush,
Make the dewy, green, lush
Grass curl its leaves in shame,
And send the river stream flowing
A little too hurriedly,  
And the clouds a-tizzy,
And the Earth a-dizzy
When I'd open my eyes, exuding
Fire through and through,
I know the sky would mirror me,
And undress into its brightest crimson hue.
I know if we'd make love that way,
The sun would rise earlier that day.
 Apr 2017
Too much,
and too little
Can mute the poet's emotion
 Mar 2017
What a marvel,
The truth that we
Are dying from the
Moment we have
Come to life,
Our existence is mere
Tug and pull between
De- and regeneration,
Our body prods our cells on,
Pumping short-lasting elixir
Into their microscopic selves,
Ions and stars of energy
Rushing in and gushing out,
We are nothing but
The friendly contest
Between flourish and decay,
One will lose tomorrow,  
The other concedes today.
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