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The Alipore Post x Usawa Literary Review: Poetry from the December Issue

Updated: Jan 6, 2022

Artwork: A Winter in Berlin by Yamuna Matheswaran

We are collaborating with Usawa Literary Review to share some powerful poems from their December issue.

Accent by Ko Ko Thett

My skin was born in the Year of the Pig. My accent much

later, and it’d rather be a Capricorn. I seduce women with my

accent. I subdue them with my skin.

You will still hear my skin whinge even after maggots dwell

and die in my accent.

My skin is my landscape, my accent my fresh air. My skin

is too thin for bad weather. My accent, so incredibly thick it

whistles under water.

I am not one of those sentenced to solitary confinement for

life inside their own skins. I can get under your skin once I

step out of my accent.

People judge me by my skin. My skin’s purpose in life is to

prove them wrong. Once I open my mouth my accent proves

them right. I keep my mouth shut, my skin open.

Which is truer, my skin or my accent? When it comes

to swinishness they are on the same page.

In places where I am considered white, my yellow accent

always holds me back. Since whatever comes from my mouth

is an unpasteurized lie, I will always have a yellow accent.

As for my skin—

it will be blues when it fancies the blues;

it will be jazz when it fancies jazz.

How to stop crying by Shobhana Kumar

From a leaf in Paati’s diary, 4.12.1943 Learn to stop them mid-way like pranayama, hold them until they brim but not over. Grow flowers. You will see how fragility can yield tenderness, each petal, the result of a trigger. Pile them like unwanted linen in crevices you don’t want to reach easily. Draw inspiration from women in remote desert villages who learn to make do without water and sand their used vessels. Rub that sand into wounds over and over and over again till wound meets blood meets hurt to that one point when all pain ceases into one shoreless pulse. Note Repeat for best rest results Pick the method most appropriate for different times *Published on the Prajna blog, Four Good Words, 2021

You Haven’t by Siddharth Dasgupta

Soil writes everything down; it uses dirt,

the slaked faithfulness of water mixed with wet earth,

grains, pebbles, and a few forgotten remnants left

behind by the past. It passes these words on to roots,

who take them in via the umbilical truth of child receding womb,

memorising each word through the secular profusion of

twigs, stems, leaves, and wood. A century or so later,

the words, having grown up to become sentences, stanzas, parables,

epics, give themselves to the freedom of evaporation, rising on the

illicit pleasures of the wind and the fluttering emancipation

of gathered clouds, bathing the land in that which was nearly

buried beneath the brusque hand of rule: of how orange tried to flood

our rivers and our homes, once upon a time; of how its crescendo

of odium and frenzy tried to swallow the songbird’s lament,

woven from diversified notes; of how its putrid breath tried to

demolish the pages of history, line by sacred line. A century or so later,

the words, having grown up to become sentences, stanzas, parables,

epics, give themselves to the freedom of evaporation, rising on the

illicit pleasures of the wind and the fluttering emancipation

of gathered clouds, bathing the land in that which was saved

by the wet fortitude of braver tongues: of how mahogany and

mahua came together to form barricades; of how tiger lilies,

lotuses, delilah, and temple magnolia dissolved previous sins

in the riparian tides of rise and roar; of how heirlooms and artefacts

and the insistent pull of photographic memory resuscitated breath

and blood into the streaming canals of previously deceased lungs.

A century or so later, the words will gather as proof of what

soil had once sowed. So if you think you’ve gotten away with it,

you haven’t.

*This poem is part of A Moveable East (Red River, 2021). It first appeared in The Punch.

Out Of Habit by Ghassan Zaqtan

The soldier the patrol forgot in the garden,

the patrol the border guards forgot at the checkpoint,

the checkpoint the occupation forgot at the doorstep,

the occupation the politician forgot in our lives,

the politician who was a soldier of the occupation.

The Merkava the army forgot at the school,

the army the war forgot in the city,

the war the general forgot in the room,

the general whom peace forgot in our sleep,

the peace that was driving the Merkava.

They still open fire at our heads,

without orders,

just like that,

out of habit.

Adda Nights in Bangalore by Lina Krishnan

Friends from a long way

Both distance and years

Much to catch up on

Dosas mingle with laughter

A rainbow elicits wonder

We swop hows, wheres

Dystopia stalks the pauses

Settling down like an unwanted visitor

The chill of a curfewed land, in our minds

How many furrows

Have these few years made

How many more will cleave us

Yet we need these visits

Rare séances with the kindred few.

At least, a shared sorrow, remains our own

The Burden We Are Passing On by Megha Sood

Love arises out of acceptance in a land made of broken bones which rattles and hums a lullaby in the soft light of the moon Dig deep in the dirt with your dirty ankles you can find the souls buried under your sidewalks Standing knee-deep in the river of blood leaving footprint everywhere you go such is the legacy we are leaving behind There is an absence of the melody the wind reeking of the hunger lone tune of the pied piper is ruling the day trying to proselytise the truth We are losing our kids to this damn sea, I say Not a light or sparkle in those ashen eyes robbed of the dreams as the sparrows losing shadows to the evening sun The darkness plays in its bounty and hunger prevails. This town left as a grieving metaphor for the catacombs no longer hold the life in its broken lap Fingers bloodied with the blood of the sacrificed newborns the ones you have masticated the life from the boney shoulder carrying the burden of generations to come. Published in the National Beat Poetry Foundation Anthology, 2020

Shields by Murray Alfredson

You say they hide

themselves behind

civilians as

human shields.

When you shell

a hospital

with phosphorous

that burns the structure

and the skin

around the wounded,

and when you shell

a school where people

flee for refuge

where are the shields,

and where the shielded?

And when you fire

your guided rockets

at the homes

of target persons,

sometimes with luck

you find them home

but surely slay

his wife and children.

Does a man hide

when he’s at home?

No whitewash words

paint thick enough

to hide your evil.

Murder is murder

whatever the wrapping.

About the artist:

Yamuna Matheswaran is a writer and visual artist from India. Her work has been featured on Atlas Obscura, The Hindu, Drawing the Times, and elsewhere. You can view her portfolio on her website and find her on Instagram @eclectic_palette


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