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2 poems by Bhairavi Ponkshe

Art by Nasser Hussein

Sweet nothings and gunshot wounds

You told me that this feeling 

sounds like a gunshot in 

the chest. And that I shouldn't 

worry, because my earlobes 

have a habit of shivering at 

the slightest of sounds. 

But by now they will be looking 

for an exit wound and won't 

find one. 

Because I'm already red in 

places I'm not supposed to be.

I'm already empty in the 

places I'm not supposed to be. 

How do I tell them that 

they're searching in vain? 

That this feeling, that looks 

so much like a calamity

has already passed? 

And not like a bullet. 

It passed, like your name 

from my mouth. I could taste 

the pain from my own lips.

Or the absence of it that I'm 

not yet accustomed to. 

It felt like an unfathomable 

brush of wind on my tongue. 

And it took away all the 

red that was left in there. 

Only the red, I guess. 

But oh darling, how do I tell 

you, that I've been lying 

all the while? 

That it was a gunshot wound 

afterall. And you were the 

one to pull the trigger before 

I could run away. 

Before I could even move.

You keep asking me about 

the day my earlobes stopped 

shivering at the slightest of 

sounds. And I keep looking 

for another set of lips that 

could answer your question. 

You're always as different 

as you are similar, you see. 

So I hoped that we 

wouldn't be

Because in fear

the world runs in consecutives 

of itself. 

And us? 

We run in opposites 

I'm stuck

Love was the puzzle inside you, that was set loose in the middle of the road. Vulnerability growing an inch a second, like a sunflower would, during afternoons. 

I lost the pieces. You forgot they even existed. And we lived. We continue to live. Without a part of ourselves. 

Like the paper boats adorned with blood and sweat that never sink in the stream. "I could've died" you said. Your breaths heavy and your tongue dry. Making yet another excuse. That night, autumn leaves fell like winter rain on my roof, and my heart felt like a woman standing at the edge of a cliff. Alone, with words that could've easily tripped over the edge. Like sweet peas on a string. 

She swallowed them, like you'd swallow a candle. Clinging to memories instead of hope. Because at the edge, everything is just a memory. Here, you turn into a memory too. Misery is just another home you're born into and courage is just another friend you leave behind. A heartbreak you don't adore enough. 

Hope dances on the ridge of your tea cup like a seven year old. You touch it with your lips and it kisses you out of nowhere. 

You see, here, we're not all afraid of innocence. 

You wake up in the middle of the night and caress your eye, where the sun drowned like a million words in your throat. You start writing and hover mid-way. You can't go forward and you can't go back. You sew your skin shut, so it doesn't show what your tongue keeps hiding.

I could've died, you say. 

Your breaths heavy and your tongue dry. Making yet another excuse. 

Bhairavi Ponkshe is a second year Psychology and Literature student from Mumbai. Her writing has been featured on Poems India and one of her poems has been published in the fourth issue of Verses magazine, California.  Follow her on Instagram.


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