my back is being thinly sliced splayed out
to reveal every little
in my spine.
मैं दिल्ली से हूँ
my back is being thinly sliced splayed out
1. Too many tiny,
For my tepid brain.
2. I am always an
In such hallowed halls.
3. Protest mistreatment
Of the undocumented!
I’ll hide behind them.
4. I’ve forgotten how
To sin in elitist hell
When I’m unwelcome.
Father put two hands firmly on my shoulders
And held me down.
Whiskey breath corroding the paper skin of eyelids I
Shut my eyes, tight,
And turned that other cheek. Goosebumps strangling skin
I stood tall, on,
Toes wriggling out of cocoons, I wish I could have
And flown away. I think, I am taught this, this
Grinding of soul into pavement as he bruises
Arm and ego
Afraid to let me go in one solid piece,
As if I could be taken
By the wind.
Breathe in, hold,
In, in, in;
I am awake.
Nostrils flaring, I
Take in the
Curves of her spine
Fingering the mountain
Ridges one by one,
My palms trembling
With the weight of green-eyed
In the shame of
You too would forget.
Crux of his silence
I back up the truck, slowly
Leaving space for it all
To explode, ballooning,
Breaking cartilage with
The fist of hunger
Holding me down by the collarbone
Pushing back and forth
Until I have nothing left
But hyper-vigilant dreams.
She twists her hair, pulling down with base of
finger and length of thumb,
A wild cockatoo perched in her ear she hears
Melodies from the audience, applause—
Push up brim of tassel, secure back in place
Everything that was left behind.
City sidewalk sweats striations
Of Poppyseed, Pumpernickel, Everything goes
Catapulting sideways through cramped spaces
Children screaming, their grandmothers pushing
Grocery carts creek over Stop Stop Go until
Dumkopf! Chutiya! Puta!
Obscenity choir, well-toasted.
Rough and scarless blue nodes,
pale violet, ink eroding the bronze
hewn valley of Extensor pollicis longus
longing for snuffed-out stain, wing of phoenix
tingling wet lip of pained fingertips—
Grandfather had a stroke but the forefinger
on his left hand kept moving,
Up-And-Down, like a metronome.
Like time. A controlled waltz.
His body was frozen in the Great Moment,
occasional twitch of lip, aiding and abetting
the gathering of dust in the soles of sandals
left unworn by the veranda door He used to
walk with toes flexed outward, flesh
of leather worn down by weight extending
and I walk inwards, pushing down, but the other way.
Have you ever surrounded
a flame with a glass jar?
Hollow, immense, it
Until it is snuffed by
the world itself. It is so
easy for smoke to fill up
e v e r y t h i n g i n s p a c e.
By Rudrani Sarma
I am the mother.
Goddess of destruction.
My body is milk
My body is blood
My body is water
My body is vessel
My body is bliss.
I release you I release you I release you
Demons of wrought iron grates in monsoon rain
Demons of rusty sex toys in boxes under the bed
Demons of typewriter keys jammed on servantman’s alcohol breath
You are so easily scared off.
Mother of striations on fatty flesh of arm
Mother of inlayed pearl in the bathroom floor
Mother of hanging from the ceiling fan.
Auntie you took rat poison.
Auntie your lips are swollen.
Auntie you forgot my name Auntie I release you.
Auntie you are fat.
Mother of mother you have crumbs on your lip. Mother of mother you hold hankies in your saree
Mother of mother your bosom crooked like navel, like hip.
Mother of mother let go of me Mother of mother I release you.
Mother of father you are dead.
Mother of father you are ill
Mother of father you choked on your diamonds Mother of father I release you.
Wife of uncle you have holes on your scalp.
Wife of uncle your voice is gruff
Wife of uncle your heart tremours at night you scream
Wife of uncle you crack knuckles Wife of uncle I release you.
Mother of mine you fear I release you
You who shall release me, come near.
It’s like that awful dream where you try to scream but nobody at all can hear you. There is pain. There is pain in my chest that I am not allowed to feel. I finally catch my breath but it is too late. I cannot pretend. The brusque voice of the nurse fingers the scars on my wrist; she deems them superficial. You are so beautiful, she says. Why would you ever want to die? Why would I ever want to die. The needles and tubes up and down my arm are alive, snaking between blood and vein and misinterpretation. Three- oh-two. I am pulled into the waiting room and stripped. They tell me to wear a gown. My breasts are exposed; I am a child alone in a room with a man and I don’t know if and how he will hurt me, but I know he will. The nurse with the purple clipboard says one-moment-please and I smile because Christ it will be longer than that I know and I have nothing but His hand to squeeze and a blank wall to stare at. The walls are infamous for being sterile and white, blank enough to induce hallucination, but if you look closely enough you can see millions of desperate fingerprints clawing out at you. And then the walls begin to grow arms and their heavy limbs reach out at you and you’re so afraid but if you dare express a little bit of fear or distress or bloody pain then into the bin you go. You’re disposed of. A bin for the loonies. Trash. I’m not crazy I’m not crazy I’m not crazy I want to say but that will make them doubt me even more. There is so much repetition here that it drives you insane. I am alone and the girl in the bed next to me keeps repeating her mantra I am not crazy listen to me please but then she forgets simple things and hears voices coming from the walls. There is evil. There is evil. There is evil within us all. And here, I can sense my fears in my fingertips, reaching out, bleach-burned, afraid but unwilling to cry out Why can’t you trust me Doctor, Doctor, Doctor? I am a witch. Ideation is not intent and vocalisation is not truth. I am the only one who can say her name. My brother, he locked up, she says, and I respond Lets Discuss Bioethics. I am afraid. Sing Amazing Grace to me just one more time. I’m not hungry, today. My life as a commodity pulls its weight from the bottom of my stomach until I have nothing but two Amazing Seven Day Workout Videos to get through before I feel alive again. The intelligent ones, they scare me the most. They have beards. They are all men. He is a man. Manic, half-moon nails fingering through my books like they belong to him. He wears glasses and has long hair. Like a messiah. You’re all so strong he says, as if he can. They won’t let me out and I don’t understand, laughs the Chosen Manic. So I cry in the shower, waiting for visiting hour. There are junkies and murderers and little girls whose mothers won’t call back and suddenly I find myself among them, with my books and my pen and my sad eyes. And I find greatness here, in my fear of them. In my desire to be alive if only to breathe air that is not crazy. To hold His hand as much as I want without breasts exposed like a little girl in a room with a man who will do something to me I know it. To find peace in my failures. Doctor, Doctor, Doctor you are evil you are evil there is evil. Here.