Poetry in our Time











Vinita  Agrawal


The Parentheses of Colours



chlorophyll channels open past midnight

never the pause of a Sunday in manufacturing

sun’s slingshots of light greedily gathered

grass blades, new shoots, tree canopies




intensely ingrained in the Kermes

crawling at the foot of giant oaks

flowing in arteries

glowing on Ferraris

and that which flows from wounds.



actual sky, frank firmament

expansive like adult loneliness

tenting like an aching absence

whatever’s left over after love has gone

the colour of holding your breath for too long.



the piss of cows fed exclusively on marigolds

Krishna’s dhoti,

the brittled edges of old love letters,

streaks of flames raking air.

A field of sunflowers.



hue of secrets

sad-as-bone black

the fragrance of Mars

the colour of humble charcoal

The shade of I’m-alive-but-not-quite.



when all colours lie frosted.

The colour of light.

Of sheets, pillows, bones, beaks, tusks, blanched cheeks.

the colour of a blank canvas

saying do-what-you-will-with-me.



split-light, a dressed-up palette

oil floating on water, an array of gelatos.

A spectacle that’s gone

in the blink of an eye.


The Silent Fair


A month before the festival,

the villagers dry the Timru bark,

its leaves, its fruits.

They hand-pound it to a fine powder,

bundle it in muslin or goat-skin.

Prepare poison.


On the day of the Mela,

the young and old troop down to the river,

beating drums, blowing pipes

dancing, singing,

anticipating what they’re about to catch.


The river Aglar

is meniscus in the monsoons,

fed by sloping rivulets

and converging streams.

Mahseer, carps, eels

frolic in its swollen waters.


The Timru powder with its

saponin and rotenone

is emptied into the creek,

stunning the fish in seconds.

Shoals of stupefied, intoxicated marine life

float to the surface like rubber ducks.


They’re grabbed griffon-like by bare talons

crude nets, makeshift traps.

The unconscious, raked by the living.

The mute, greeted in the language of drums.


Juveniles, fingerlings, smolt

amphibians, tadpoles,

butterflies, grasshoppers, spiders,

who’ve also ingested the toxins,

are wiped off like dust on glass.

Bio diversity is blanched to a white sheet.


The fattest catch

is laid at the Devi’s feet

at a nearby temple;

‘Pure Offering’.

When did a fish ever dirty a river?

The ceremonial feasting

goes on well into the night.

In the hours leading to dawn,

a silence goes on well into the future.

The river quiet. Winds still. Stars frozen.

A riverine eco-system gasping at the gills.


Timru: Genus : Zanthoxylum americanum, Family Rutaceae, (prickly ash), contains ichthyotoxic properties

Devi: Goddess

Mela: Fair

Note: In a festival celebrated in Uttarakhand, India, toxins extracted from the Timru tree are used to stun fish which then float on surface and are captured easily by hands, traps and nets.




I wish

I was moss



no wind could ruffle



of compacted emerald velvet



no soil to survive



on stones



rocks, filling caverns



over oaks



winged by insects far and wide.


Vinita  Agrawal is the author of five books of poems. Her latest collection The Natural Language of Grief is the winner of the Proverse Prize 2021. She is the poetry editor of Usawa. She is on the Advisory Board of the Tagore Literary Prize. She is also a part of various initiatives for social justice like G100 and WICCI.

Poetry books: Twilight Language/ The Natural Language of Grief, Two Full Moons, Words Not Spoken, The Longest Pleasure, The Silk Of Hunger.

Edited: Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English, Open Your Eyes.




Sarita Jenamani




Against a sky

that bleeds dew

drop by drop

I am hanging upside down

an eternal stranger to your earth


your earth

is engaged in chopping

its own flesh

to make maps and flags


Who will define these pains

that rise like nameless dawns

to reveal geographies

of longing and belonging


I am the eternal stranger

driven by love

beyond borders

I call myself you

for the distance between us


is just an image

of an open wound




This is the way we live

in the footprints

of retreating soldiers

in pure non-fiction


The moon – a nocturnal bird – perches

on the blossomed branches of a Jamun tree

watches the sisters

whispering rollicking secrets

in an unnamed courtyard

in the warmth of a familiar humid night


Let’s not get hemmed in

blindfolded in the face of happiness

holding imprints

of some reflecting memory


The life we lived

has never existed perhaps

we have been inhabiting

the comfortable pores

of some random broken wall


Let’s learn to slip

silently from these dark pores

Let’s master the art of leaving

a fictive life foretold




In the nothingness of sky-chameleon

omnipresent horizon

of wish and time


I fly


from one home to another

slicing time and its zones

Each mile a stone

unable to melt in the mouth of longing


Trapped between the atmospheric silence

of spatial & temporal homesickness

I lozenge an effervescence of emptiness

blue proclamation of anguish

voice boxed up

watching flocks of clouds

appearing,  disappearing

outside my aeroplane window


No border exists in the expanse of sky

Brutal abstract definition

of words that divide us begin

& end in an endless loop of nothingness

A diaspora of dream migrates with us

in such an absolutely relative space





Defying the law of gravity

Following the axiom of love

with smells and bells

we wanted to ascend like mantras

of holy scriptures


We wanted to remain afloat

in the air of sacred cities


somewhere between heart

and Agrippa’s trilemma


Silent longings drifting

up and down

from depths abysmal

and times remote,

suffocated under their own weight.


The fallen keep on falling

traversing the imaginary

galaxies inter-twined like a riddle

and those who want to solve it




I am scared of losing them

that are meant to be lost

and gather them

in my gasp

What was the colour

of the trees

which were chopped off

while paving the way

to the castle of your solitude

Do not blame the world

that stands

just adjacent to you

It is you

who refuse

to come out

of your own labyrinth


Sarita Jenamani is an Austria-based poet of Indian origin, a literary translator, anthologist, human rights activist and feminist. She is the editor of a bilingual magazine for migrant literature: Words & Worlds, and general secretary of PEN International’s Austrian chapter. She has so far been published in three collections of poetry. Jenamani is the co-editor of the anthology Silence Between the Notes: a collection of partition poetry from South Asia. She has also edited the first-ever anthology of poetry on violence against women in South Asia: Still We Sing. Jenamani has translated several Austrian poets including, Rainer Maria Rilke, Georg Trakl, Rose Ausländer etc. into Hindi and Odia. She has received many literary fellowships in Germany and Austria including those of the prestigious organizations of ‘Heinrich Böll Foundation’ and ‘Künstlerdorf Schöppingen’.





Another Day


When the sun comes from the back door

Without knocking

You know it has risen on the sly

The golden sheen on the pines

Beckons the birds to fly


Silver arrows dart forth in unison

The dark water turns blue and

The ocean spills into the universe

As the night somersaults into day




Blue waters


I move on

Go further

Away from land

Into the sea

Confident and sturdy with

The spirit of Hemingway’s old man


Words of caution are left behind

Afloat with the grit and gush of freedom

Matching the strength of sharks

And whales

Without any nets and threats


Not combative, nor any competition

In peace with death and life

In continuum






Darkness may seize us

We didn’t trust light


Quickness of mind is

A hiss

A dart

A lethal bite


Two little yellow mushrooms

Solid and fragile

Sprout from the roots of an unknown tree

Bearing the whole sun within


Forbidden acts

Are bloated with

Endless possibilities




When you kept your hand

On top of my head

Pulling it closer to your chest

On the hospital bed

God knows what flowed

Into the deep well of

My being

From the cusp of your palm

Soft but resolute

Vibrations that awakened my

Soul into a serenity

Timeless and steady

To stay

For long after you left



Sukrita Paul Kumar, poet and critic, was born and brought up in Kenya. She held the prestigious Aruna Asaf Ali Chair at Delhi University. Formerly, a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, she was an invited poet at the International Writing Programme, Iowa, USA and Hong Kong Baptist University. Honorary faculty, Durrell Centre at Corfu, Greece, she has been a recipient of many prestigious fellowships and residencies. Her recent collections of poems amongst others are Vanishing Words, Country Drive, Dream Catcher, Untitled and Poems Come Home (with Hindustani translations by Gulzar). She is the “Writer in Context” Series co-editor, being published by Routledge UK. Her co-edited book on the eminent writer Krishna Sobti is the first in the series. Amongst her critical books are Narrating Partition and Conversations on Modernism. Her translations include Nude, poems by Vishal Bhardwaj and the novel, Blind (HarperCollins) by Joginder Paul. A guest editor of journals such as Indian Literature, Manoa (Hawaii) and Muse India, she has held solo exhibitions of her paintings. Many of her poems come out of her experience of working with the homeless, street children and Tsunami victims.



Hannie Rouweler (Netherlands)


Evening walk, a dream


This evening, a Tuscan night, we walk

the well-known road in this district,

we walk between two high bushes to a remote

playground with swings and a bench

now abandoned. We see trees and a hedge behind which

a mailbox is located. Sometimes I walk to it alone.


We talk about everything and nothing and our voices

reflect the silence that had been between us for a long time.

It’s okay, that silence, saying and expressing nothing

shrouded in a blanket of security. It  preserves itself

and how often words are meant only for one self.


I’ve missed you. I especially missed that part that was good

as there were no obstacles. I especially want to say

that I’m glad to see you again, the old trusted friend from those

days returning in this evening walk. The night’s luke warm breath

from you and me to the stars

Hannie Rouweler was born as one of seven children in a Roman Catholic family in the primarily Protestant village of Goor. She has said that she began writing at age 15, but she was well into her thirties before she published her first collection Regendruppels op het water (“Raindrops on the water”) in 1988.

She has published 20 additional books since Regendruppels op het water and is considered among the leading voices in current Dutch poetry. In 1981 her daughter was born, in Amsterdam.

In 2008 she has started Demer Uitgeverij/Demer Press, ePublisher, publishing anthologies, individual poetry books, and translations.

Hannie has performed in The Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, Norway, Dumfries, Scotland as part of the international poets for the birthday celebrations of Robert Burns.

She lived in Belgium during the period of 2004 through 2012. In 2013, she moved back to The Netherlands, to Leusden.


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