Barnali Ray Shukla (Voices Within 2023)

Barnali Ray Shukla is a writer, filmmaker and a published poet in seven countries. She lives in Mumbai, with her plants, parrot fish, books and a husband. She also lives on Instagram @barnalirays 


Tread softly


Play hopscotch with fire                  

if you are lucky, you step

on a mine, or two. Boom.


Smithereens of a playful

yesterday, gone in seconds.


Cheating death is a poor choice

when limbs ache with a need

to be free from the body


contained by orders, borders

drawn on scrolls where guns

salute power, that can’t tell


Palestine from Israel,

Syria from Yemen,

knotted in times where


the dead wait to wake up

the living lie in a slumber

as they spray bullets, greed


shaped like guns, speak of ties

that wake up to what could be

ours, could be yours, could be


guns, could be mine. Baby steps

to safety, but on the way, there’s


a minefield. Tread softly







Dusky loam wore light

warm breath moist with



The earth unbuttoned,

seedling woke up for



seeds with wings, striped

rounded edges, cook



Leaves unfurled to speak

in chlorophyll,


        language of home.




Heaven Inc.


We have forgiven God for he knows

not how he came to be with us

We watching over Him 

or He over us



We haven’t forgiven God for she knows

not how she came to be with us

We watching her or

She over us

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