Voices Within: Lopamudra Banerjee

Lopamudra Banerjee is an Indian-Bengali poet and author living in Texas, USA. She is the author of the Journey Awards 2015 winning memoir ‘Thwarted Escape’, and the critically acclaimed poetry collection ‘Woman And Her Muse’. She has translated Tagore’s selected works of fiction as ‘The Broken Home And Other Stories’. A recipient of the Woman Achiever Award 2018 instituted by International Women’s Short Film Festival, The Reuel International Prize for poetry (2017) and for translation (2016), she wears many hats. She is also a featured poet/artist performing poetry/spoken words in Texas (at Dark Moon Poetry, Houston PoetryFest, among others). 

Frida: a Journey, an Anthem

[Note: This particular poem, a dedication to the feisty, volatile Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and her paintings has been inspired by an astoundingly beautiful photograph of Kahlo, (1943), courtesy Guillermo Monroy. Source: Frida Kahlo Postcards] 

Head dresses and womanly fetishes
Stark portraits of transitions,
Passion, often renamed as hedonistic art.
Frida, do you know how often
you give generations of women
bleeding with rhythm,
beauty and banal reminders
The dreams of dangling ear-rings
and ravaged red hearts
displayed with pride?
Bruises, like shimmering flags
fluttering around bare
work-in-progress body parts
wafting like slain poems,
when we can say
we don’t even give a damn
if we are ever marginalized,
or trivialized, or whitewashed,
or given the license
of trickling tears
after each blow, each coercion?
Flecks of stardust around our shedding skins,
fingers shriveling, aching to craft miracles
with the subterranean flow of naked, stifling truths.
Stroke after stroke, each part of us
gagging and loosening, leaking, abandoned.
Rivulets form. Ripples form, merge,
Magic strokes our skin, we sing primal songs.

Let Me Craft A Poem


Today, let me craft a poem, not about my body
The rugged island of my throat,
the windy branches of my hands,
The dark winds, the dispersed clouds of my wired bra
Today, let me craft a poem, not about
the emitting flame of a girlhood
That had died in me, long back,
watching silently over predators
Snapping at her, and she, trying to snap back at them,
became
Shards of broken glass
A cradle of unspoken truths
Ashes of stories about wolf-men.

Today, let me craft a poem,
not about wilderness piercing
Through the woods of my body,
cinnamon scent that hovers and swirls
Mouth to esophagus, cleavage to navel,
and beyond, shadows of lust
Lurking in civil obeisance, waiting to flow
in a deluge of primal wants.
Today, let me craft a poem, not about shades of scarlet
and the stifling silence
Crumpled, twisted into myths and high-flying tales.
The tale of a virgin flower
The piousness of the flesh
The oft-worshipped rhythm of femaleness.

Today, let me craft a poem, an elegy, a dirge of nakedness
Of both structure and content,
Let me deconstruct, drop by drop
White-laced frocks and blooming springs
Barbie dolls and Cinderella’s and erotic women
Twittering as temple sculptures.
Today, let me craft a poem
on the nothingness and fullness of being
A pensive, barren woman,
An asexual, prose-driven woman,
An anemic, bulimic jihadi woman.


 Sad Songs Are Born in the Kitchen

Monochrome songs
Bloated aftermath of honeyed tea.
You know the long, wet hand
The fingers of a strange, drizzling sky.

The sky, overcast with jabbing words.
The black-and-white fool’s dream
Scream of the earth
Inside sad songs
Vaporized longings
Formative lessons
Missing pieces of puzzles
Born in the kitchen,
piercing the void
Between half-cooked broth
and bruised fingers.

You know there’s no real hero
in the portraits
Hung on the walls, and you burnt your own,
looking away.
You know you are neither the mistress or the muse,
Only the body of a woman,
Only an ounce of ignited fire
and the blood drops of a spirit wild. 
You know the summers on porches
and the mad swell
of rain in your throat,
tingling with verses.


Kumortuli 

The karigar opens the floodgates of the body
Of a Goddess he has almost formed.
He lets me dab the brush with watered clay,
And I find my fingers swaying the brush
In the traffic intersections of the bosom,
The arms, the dainty neck and the loins.
“You’re a mother, aren’t you?” The kaarigar says.
“Take my brush, the Mother Goddess I am making
will be complete with your touch…”
I look hither and thither, take the brush
Try to invoke the sleepy troughs and crests of a figurine
That would soon enliven in some corner of the world
Exported as a Goddess with a name,
a special tithi to ritualize her presence.

In the nondescript alley, faces hide and come out,
jeering, loquacious, quiet, intimidating, bodies
With half-fed stomachs, runny noses,
pronounced rib cages, lack-luster hair.
Faces of infants latching on to their mothers’ emaciated breasts,
Faces of impatient sentinels, men, women and their offspring
guarding mossy, crippled structures, brittle roofs
And stairs leading to the scum and openness of drenched streets.
Their homes, privy to many a starving night canopied with fragile sleep
and dense nonchalance. We roam around the precincts,
My over-enthused buddies and myself, our poetry, our cameras
and flashes, our clumsy fluttering mismatched with their primal wants.

In the glum streets, the heavy-breasted Durga, the poised Saraswati,
the indolent Shiva and the feisty, nude Kali, the pensive Shakuntala
become the flashes of lightning, the welcoming droplets of rain.
In between our urbane banter, the karigar and his almost formed
clay-Goddess, craving to be enlivened
The fullness of a ritual, a flickering, sensual truth,
A holy semblance of life sustained, holding on to its tattered edges.

Karigar: Artisan
Tithi: A special date to worship a God/Goddess according to Hindu rituals
Durga, Saraswati, Shiva, Kali: Hindu Gods/Goddesses
Shakuntala: The wife of King Dushyant and mother of Bharat, a female character in the epic Mahabharata.
Voices Within - Complete List of Poets :: Setu, January 2019

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