Poems | Nabanita Kanungo

Photo Credits :Lee La

Unchanging Day

Another day waits for the humdrum bigotry to pass.
Its heart never falls out of that sad beat of knowing
as shutters are pulled down on the outsider’s shops
and arsonists paint their names with smoke on autumn’s sky.

What doesn’t tell ‘47 from ’79, ’79 from ’92, ‘92 from today
is a familiar smell of burning flesh;
for today was born of all days that walked past man
watching him writing history, his head buried deep
in the dung-heap of civilisation—

a man set to fire in the crowded market place,
a brutalised dream in the womb of a woman,
the girl whose face was patched
but whose fingers could never be found,
cabs and cowsheds ablaze at night,
the bellowing hooves of panic.

This day of names that have long stopped beating their chests,
doesn’t weep sour tears in the mediocrity of headlines,
to yawns that close upon the self-righteous cup
of morning tea, news in hand;
the quick prayer that eases
the city’s vulgar morality.

This day of homes forever suspect,
is a wizened old light that only waits its time out,
making night of itself and the same day it will be tomorrow,
as the bidding price is raised with more blood
for savagery to be simply bought over by the gods
and the soul of a perpetual clamour
has ceased to be noise
in the sum of happening.

A Jarring Note / Kanungo in The Hills

We dealt with matters of land,
my grandfather had said.
Ones who kept its records,
measured it, fixed its price.
We knew the kanoon.
I was taught to lick my name’s deep sound
festering in these hills before I was born.
And for a child misplaced on earth,
I took with ease the candour
of how a certain ache didn’t fit
here or anywhere else;
I grew into the fabled tree of my own blood
in tacit questions, raised eyebrows,
grudging smiles,
everything that seemed to shout
that unjustifiable nature of being
an outsider in the hills;
until I stopped wondering
whether with all the kathas and bighas
they had worked out,
my forefathers would have ever gauged
the incredible metaphor
land was to become for me—
a dream I must measure
with another dream,
a file of identity proofs gone quiet weeping
in childish longings to belong
this vast terrain of irony,
where silence is the only kanoon,
and the price of which
is that terrible contradiction
that walks the earth
in my name.

Winter Vignettes 

Quiet passing into nothing.
Sweet savour, bitter after-taste.
Day lost suddenly to stars.
Terrible hangover.

Not frost or snow
but tomorrow
going into hiding
under yesterday’s cold arrival.

Orange clocks on spiralling trees,
blur of horses with leaves for hoofs;
the dead, waiting for the soft wings
of shoots.

By day, an old sky was washed
and spread out to dry on rusty hedges.
A glistening needle
mends dreams by night,
stitching up eyes.

No memoirs for the evenings,
no talk;
years of a stained chemise
flutter now on frigid stands.

where things are simply written
with light.

A sudden grey falls from roofs,
and snuffs out a burning country

A skeletal canopy’s
appointment with fire.

Hearth breathing heavily,
lessons in dim embers
and ash.

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