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there are no poems by Devashish Makhija

Updated: Jan 13


Art by Lekha Shastry


there are no poems about

the slithering fear

they carry coiled inside their

military hearts;

fear with forked tongues,

forked as forceps

that extract any and all

future ‘why’s

that may dare to doubt

the absence of poems in this land.


there are poems though, written in prisons

about good men in cages

quietly living out

unjust sentences,

as if forbearance were

Man’s greatest virtue,

no matter how many others

beyond those cages –

imprisoned in

skins whose shades start wars –

were made to snag on battle-tank chains,

torn to abstractions, their

histories littering the gutters outside those prison walls like the shadows

of untrod snakes.


there are no poems though

about those men who

chose instead to

blow up prison walls.


poems, although much longer,

are wishless before bullets;

a poem may pierce, but cannot kill;

poems can stand silently

like rifles in corners;

like their shadows;

like their cold long iron penises

which spray angry hate into

the women they kill


when their bullets run out;

like the dead wood in their butts

that once throbbed with moss

and arched to greet

the first rain

but have now been polished to a place

where no trace of life can

taint them.


poems can stand silently

but do not wish to.


my poem would like to greet you

the way a furious matchstick

greets a river of oil.



there are no poems for fires

started this way.


but if there happen to be one or two

they will have leapt

into their own fires unwilling

to outlast them.


there are no poems that stand

as shrines to the self-­immolated;


words dream of being embers,

not ash.


i carry your poem

in my hand

it was carved here like a road

it was to take us somewhere


i carry your poem

around my neck.

my chest is words

read by those who understand my tongue.

i met one who didn’t.

she stared at me with fear.

our skins were not the same shade.

i felt the urge to reach for a knife then

since she would never allow me to

kill her with your poem.


there was a poem i

wrote once that

stood defiant

before an atomic sorrow.


i waited

for one of the two to explode,

hoping to go down with it;

but instead yet

another unsuspecting

geographical boundary somewhere

shivered, and changed shape,

including a new poem on one side,

excluding a familiar one on the other.


there are no poems

for those who cease to belong

when boundaries change

this way.


© ® Devashish Makhija 2020

Read more of Devashish's powerful poems on his website.

 
 
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