Sharmila Ray: Poetry (Voices Within 2021)

Sharmila Ray is a poet and non-fiction essayist, writing in English and anthologized and featured in India and abroad. Her poems, short stories and non fictional essays have appeared in various national and international magazines and journals. She is an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of History at City College, Kolkata. She has authored nine books of poetry. She conducted poetry workshops organized by British Council, Poetry Society of India, Sahitya Akademi.. She has been reading her poems in India and abroad.. Her poems have been translated into Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Slovene, Hebrew and Spanish. She has received award from Women’s Times and Green Tara Initiatives for poetry (2018).


Kolkata are you listening?
I am apprehensive about you
and your ghettos and new friends and sleaze.
The dark language that emanates from you have 
hardened compassion. You don’t understand anymore
 the December mist over Victoria nor the melancholic grayness
of a monsoon afternoon. You don’t care what happens to those glorious
 buildings plastered with creepers and posters and babbling humanity on the side walks
intoxicated with opium and tar. What happened to that shy smile that speaks of a happy heart or that prayer on your full bodied lips? Tell me, this morning when the first light touched your forehead did you feel love, hope, joy or exhilarating madness that comes from the salty smell of blood and sweating hounds ready for the kill?
Kolkata are you listening?
It’s time, here in this Nemean darkness let’s go together to gather light from the abyss of
bitterness to re-invent a new you.


We address the remains of a campfire
ebb tide flowing from the beach to the sea
western sky pink and distant rocks purple
the finality of it hitting both you and me.

Dark descends like secret police
and these moments never really last long
each memory turning miniature till it’s frozen
and life is like a dying swan’s song.

Drawing the evening like a cloak around us
We become the mysterious them
sea pattern, red crabs and ashes mingling
us or the universe all the same.


A pair of lips sealed and ends
with a smell of a faraway land
life and death are mingled here
 between each breath and hot sand.

Here summer warmth is sealed 
on the tip of the fiery tongue
and shadows grow and take root
in colour density and song sung.

Saliva shimmers like white gold
in togetherness and imagination
 a tight kiss deep and devouring
candle light and warm celebration.

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