This year, during National Poetry Writing Month(NaPoWriMo), we received over three thousand submissions through our social media and website. From the 50 featured pieces of poetry, we have picked a few for you to read. Here you go :
Sonography of emptiness
the second paediatrician
you remember them taking
you to was because you
refused to eat anything other than
original flavour cornflakes and
200ml tetra sachets of amul milk.
when your friends were
busy feeding their jealousy
over each others’ hannah
montana pencil pouches,
you were jealous of those
around you with stable
relationships with food.
you remember being
emptier than all
the chocolate wrappers
a week from halloween;
how your weak hands
were busy measuring your waist
from the tip of your thumb
to your little finger to that
of miley cyrus’.
you imagine your illness
auditioning inside your body;
the new permanent teeth
were motel rooms, waiting
to be shared by hundreds of
cups of tea and sugar-free gum.
your throat was the super
speed high way for the illness
to travel down and up, up and down.
your body is the permanent address in
the letters you wrote, addressed to your illness.
you wonder which meal
did you eat your illness with.
which breakfast or lunch was
the state corporation bus
that your eating disorder had
the travel fare and ticket to?
you talk as if your voice box
has ellipses programmed in
for use after every row of
continuous seven words that
escapes your tongue. nobody
suspects that you’ve been been
biding adieu to anything other
than the plethora of unimpressive
alphabets that sound like an ant,
wailing under size 6 boots. yet.
but the next time
your bones do not
turn into fish in an aquarium
at the sight of pellete
at the beginning of the day
when they say ‘poem’,
not ‘po-em’, there may
be a serious conversation
awaiting for you before
so, before that happens,
and you and i know that it will,
i want you to tell the parasite
feeding off of you and leaving
you behind hungry that
the property lease is over;
i know a কবিতা
who will pay you rent by
healing your slits into smiles
if you lend your body to her;
says she will share her oreos and
prayers with you, and dare you ask,
she will conceive metaphors for
your abdomen to birth.
she is the deep blue sea for
your bones to swim in, and
the hymn for your mouth
and throat to sink in.
because, frankly, honey,
i’m tired of looking at you,
and finding myself stare at
the sonography of your emptiness.
yours [if you let me],
all the mirrors you pass by.
by Avni Aryan
but every evening I pull out my cycle and
tie my laces like a fourth grader who ties
their white PT shoes with a confident independence.
My right hand can do the bow
But it’s the left one sways and duck
sand fastens it tight.
When I pedal down streets too busy
to clear my head & let the wind play with my hair,
It’s my right hand that hits the bicycle bell
to create a clearing on my path
(full of other wandering souls)
But it’s my left hand that pulls the brakes
when I am not able to.
I once pedalled all the way to an art gallery
with a Nikon D3000 hanging around my neck
to meet a boy who read The perks on being a wallflower
under The starry night and I couldn’t help
but ask if I could get a picture,
He only subtly flashed his dimpled smile in agreement.
While my right hand adjusted the lens and pressed the click button,
It was my left hand that held the camera steady
despite my heart racing at an F1 level.
The next weekend, I met him under a jamun tree
And my cheeks went red
Not because his right hand held me by the waist
But because his left one cupped my face softly
and we laughed while kissing
when he told me(on our second meeting)
that he could marry me.
If you’ve ever been to a proper big fat Indian wedding
full with a fancy 5 course buffet,
you entirely understand the struggle of
huge white plates and big spoons.
On such occasions, when my body struggles to
coordinate conversations with strangers whilst
standing in cold grass in an imperfect balancing act,
If my right hand feeds me,It’s the left one that
single handedly holds the whole and soul of the plate
with a napkin tucked underneath.
I always thought I’ve a good balance in life
until last night
My body lost all balance as he said
he couldn’t do it anymore
Last night, I couldn’t go to sleep.
My heart fell into a dark, bottomless pit
and my lungs gasped for air,
And when my right hand was all sweaty and shaky,
It was my left hand that held it tight
and whispered”It’s gonna be okay,”
Describing the color Yellow to someone blind from birth
by Vimal Sangam
the man I am in love with
is blind by birth and
the first time he plucks a few
out of the cracks in the pavement
in spring and asks ‘what color is yellow?’
as he tucks a lone strand of hair
dancing with the breeze
behind my ear,
I catch his palm and let it
rest gently on my warm cheek
until my smile causes my eyes
to crinkle and I say’this is yellow’
I tell him yellow is how
he tickles my abdomen
in the middle of a conversation
about why fries at McDonald’s are
better than those else
whereas we secretly lie with each other
in my hostel room
the sunlight streaming from the
broken window in the corner
right onto half of his face
as the old fan whirrs slowly
and makes the baby hair on
his forehead dance like a
delicate ballerina tiptoeing
in her opening act
yellow is instinctively
reaching out to hold his hands
when the lights are off
the simple intertwining of fingers
before bodies the callouses in his palms,
yellow is soft and charming
like the way he wiggles his arms
to get out of his sweatshirt,
it is the smell of butter popcorn
when he waits in the queue
to buy movie tickets
yellow is how he comes to
a theatre and sits through
three hours of chaotic sounds
just because I want to watch
a film with his arms in mine,
it’s him wavy dancing
on my bed when I’m crying
and my burst of laughter
yellow is unadulterated joy in
the simplicity of existence
the grandiosity of everyday things
emanating from something
too secure to need validation
like us so when he asks
‘what color is yellow?’
I tell him to write in Braille
the happiest memory
that comes to his mind
and just when he’s about
to put an exclamation mark
at the end of his sentence
I tap his knuckles and say ‘this is yellow.’
Tryst with destiny
/the universe tends to not care. Disappointment is the side-effect of caring. So she decided to become a dark, cold void, and called it 𝘭𝘪𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘴𝘪𝘴 (an ache to let things go)/
There’s a great distance between Maa and Baba when they sleep on the same bed. I didn’t quite understand the reason so I called it dark matter,
— 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘌𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘪𝘯 𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥, 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯 𝘦𝘮𝘱𝘵𝘺 𝘴𝘱𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨.
/the only time the universe ever changes is when something unfortunate happens (the universe is forced to feel something; even 𝘴𝘩𝘦 can’t escape from it)/
Maa picked up 53 moons of Jupiter and Saturn each, and strung them into two individual braids. The cosmos stayed in my hair the entire childhood, till it got combed out and fell like lice on the custody papers.
— 𝘯𝘰𝘸 𝘐 𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘩𝘢𝘪𝘳𝘧𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘦𝘵.
/two planets collide, a meteor kills off an entire species, black holes take everything from the universe and give nothing in return/
Love doesn’t come easy to the divorced family. It comes with the dirty pink walls of childhood, that look like the inside of my pulsating chest.Our existence becomes a cosmic glitch of epic proportions. We stop seeing people as they are, we see them as we are,
— 𝘢 𝘨𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘨𝘦-𝘴𝘢𝘭𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘶𝘯𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴.
I marinate my frozen lips in cheap red lipstick that smells like pickle (𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘢 𝘤𝘰𝘭𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘵𝘰𝘥𝘢𝘺, 𝘔𝘢𝘢. 𝘐𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘢 𝘴𝘪𝘯). In the crooks of my body my lover finds political resistances, chanting the sound of its holy unit, 𝘰𝘩𝘮 | ॐ.
And when I sunbath everyday with the nectar of pain and baba’s leftover aftershave,He tells me,
“You look so happy.”
— 𝘸𝘦𝘭𝘭, 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘮𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘐’𝘮 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘺𝘰𝘶.
My teacher never taught me
how to use words to describe emptiness
We chew on prayers before
we stuff our mouths with cereal,
ma says empty hearts are deadlier than empty stomachs.
(my mouth is getting heavier with absences)
my face reflects better in spoons than in mirrors,
because i am the carrier of grief and love
and all the things that never stay
in the cusp of my soul.
i watch ma carry an earthen pot back home,
the water leaks through a crack.
(i curtain my arms with sleeves,
wondering how many of them i can hide)
my fifth grade teacher asked me
to write about ma
and punished me for leaving the page blank.
i came back home with a hollow smile
and she fed me her share of joy
with the last piece of bread.
(she emptied herself to pour into hearts,
my teacher never taught me
how to use words to describe emptiness)
i sleep with all the lights of my room turned on
because the presence of things to hold onto
makes you feel less lonely-
the only shame is we don’t know
how to outstretch our hands to take.
i water the neighbours’ plants every morning,
by dusk, the tank runs out of water.
(i turn my eyes away from the garden in my backyard)
we are fed emptiness before
we get hungry for food,
ma says hungry souls are deadlier than hungry mouths.
(my heart is growing more hollow with every spoonful)