Poetry: Lopa Banerjee

* Author of the Month *
Lopa Banerjee

No Shame, Woman

[Inspired by an artwork of a woman outside a mall which I made some days back for my daughters, which again, was inspired by a sketch of a woman holding a branded bag in ‘Vogue’.]

So much for the mourning music.
The sonata can begin anywhere, the threadbare art
Of the bustling shopping malls where she flirts, coquettish
With the stores, stockpiled against each other, 
No promises to keep, no one to sort out the days, months
Tangled, humming a song for nothing. 
Or the church, in its high tide of the Sunday mass, 
Her wanton self, hanging loose, ditching the early broth 
Of weddings and bridal kisses, coming out, 
A dead fetus, mangled vows, losing their moorings
A flat belly, the starkest edge of nowhere. 
Or, for that matter, a deserted hallway, like a fallow land
A gaping hole, coming close to shut her in, but she, unyielding
Holding on to the last threads of her dwindling body.
The mold has been built, the foundation, spreading all over the face,
Shrieking, like birth pangs, the powdered touches,
The somber knot of hair, the lipstick and pout,
Her song of the Virgin and Jesus, her religion.
A bowl of soup and fried steak had burnt some day, somewhere,
Spoilt, wafting in the pregnant air,
like an unborn baby, infinitely dark.
But she has managed to chant her songs well,
Hold on to her details of decoration,
Stitching, re-stitching the knots of her bag
The hem of her coat, the patchworks of her skirt.
The mastectomy, camouflaged well, long scars strapped shut
Like the night’s rain, a bolted window, hastening.
So much for the mourning music.
A warm squirt springs from the ground zero
Of a failed womb, a chucked off breast,
flames of hungry fire, rekindled.


Madness is the mortal gift I present myself today.
The one-way street to my own bare self,
Stripping myself of all oomph,
All my false twinkling rivers
And all that slow-moving traffic
Of manly praises for a loving, sane woman.
All that soars out and glitters and basks
and then stoops, stoic
All that impregnation with tranquil forms 
And melodic sentences, pirouetting 
With gay abandon, I have trampled on 
And forsaken, walking forlorn,
A woman possessed.
Madness is the mortal gift I present myself today.
The Radha and Meera, charred,
Blood oozing from a masochist flame,
I walk, tearing up, threadbare,
Far, far away from your tender caresses,
Your torrent of whiplashes.

Ocean Reckoning

A mouthful of ocean wants
A handful of salty coastal sand
Arid footsteps buried 
In the silver swirl,
Craving to be blessed,
To lick the white sands and salt,
To seize a chunk from
The fast-fading time
And gulp the thawing air
While it lasts.
A few more steps,
A little slick of sweat
And there I am,
Ready for the painterly sky,
The blueness and angled sunlight.
A journey into the open roads
And horizon, a journey
Of cracking open, creaking
And bursting into spasms.
A journey, wayward,
Haunting, full of ocean smells.

The Wheels of Life

Note: Inspired by a beautiful photograph of the Kolkata lanes and the rickshaws, old, hand-pulled vehicles still rampant in the city, taken by my friend Aditi Bandyopadhyay, a doctor, Orissi danseuse and an advocate for the cause of Autism.

The wheels of life go on, the mortal flames of the earth,
Crushed, brittle, under its trampling trails.
A city wakes up, stays put, flees in recycled habits
And retires at night, its moist desires wax and wane.
A city, orchestral, sublime in its monochrome cacophony,
Throbbing, pulsating in its sultry summer wind,
Its short-lived winter’s tale.
The wheels of life fade and resound in slow spirals
Of a forgotten autumn’s last longings,
A city which has buried my words without echoes,
A city where I have returned, barefoot
In an annual ritual of jinxed interludes.
A city where the honking rickshaws
Still trample over my dark, ghostly footprints,
A city where goodbyes are a waxy dribble
Of some terminally ill, fugitive words.


What are the burnt sienna flames of a house
That guards in its rusty drawers pictures of stale kisses
Make-belief letters of a lover, sucking on the marrows
Of a love, frost-bitten, festering with dried up fluids
Of a child woman's first mad bursts of a forbidden, whirlwind romance?
What are the crumpled wants of a house that waits for eager fingers,
Barren hands that run through picture postcards
Never sent to truant addresses, drowning in the pitch-dark of oblivion,
Only to be enmeshed in the remembered wind?
What are the dying and ebbing bubbles of a house
That knows the ornate vermilion of a burnt out girl
Who became a bride and ran away
A thwarted escape to pastures new,
Only to return, at the edge of a teary surrender?
What is the house that becomes a melancholy river
It's empty rooms and verdant staircases cook up a storm of heat,
Becomes its desperate, volatile lover
Undressing her, bit by bit, layer after layer,
As she opens up, spreads her raging self for a coitus that chokes her,
Scratches her old wounds with stinging salt,
And her eyes shut out, moaning, failed words,
Flickering, blazing, dying out.

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