I hope all of you enjoy reading these selections. They are from the winners of the Colors Contest. Spend some time wandering through them - you will find it rewarding!
Color Song: RedRed
Comes in waves, like heat,
like the word "Thermopylae",
reminding of the battle that was there
and Spartan war flags. Cherries
preserved on a winter day, the jar
hanging right on the edge of a windowsill
framing the descent of snow
on an otherwise
mugged up windows
of a drunk, bleary soul
as he staggers past
a toy barn house,
slips on a sock,
obnoxious with color,
and cracks open
like a bleeding drum
beat, beat, beating
the heart still bleeding.
Red, the color of pain.
Drunk man, now sober,
in a white-bed hospital room,
white lilies on display, his wife's
as smooth clam shells.
A calendar like freshly laundered sheets
two weeks after that little incident.
He imagines the rose, just one,
tossed into the open grave.
Grey sky, blue air,
the green cemetery
all around him.
In his mind, he switches to thermal vision
imagines the lack of red. Realizes
the bloodless self lying under black earth.
House of Invisible MenPrologue: - The White-Porched House -
White September, October, November,
A December in snow.
The autumn season is a harsh one
For us who haunt this shabby bachelor's apartment.
Time begins to dwell on these first flakes,
White as our faces,
Pale as my eyes.
The voices calling out from the porch,
David, Marcus, Michael,
Roommates, all of them
Joining house with one Steven Green.
Yet, despite the cold,
Despite the snow choking our window-framed faces
You wouldn't believe how much,
We didn't miss the rain.
1. - Faceless Man -
David was an engineer, a worker of diagrams
His hands winding a clock, always working late.
The projects scooping a week out of a day.
Sunday through Saturday, all born out
Of twenty-four joyous hours.
You could've told him to slow down but,
The man ain't much for Belphegor's games.
Still, life twiddles its unceasing thumb
Pressed down on his face,
And squeezed him out of a job.
The company was bankrupt, and
Told to start life somewhere else
David bent down before t
Color Poem: YellowYellow,
see me against wallpapered sunflower
the room as it visibly ages
twenty years ago, the sunlight in motion
might have bloomed here, made a song
out of glowing air, the air sparking
as if fireflies could sing.
But the dust is layered like butter now
over cold toast, over sponge cake.
I eat them all, with canned corn
remembering the mornings we'd wake up
in each other's arms, thought of how jaundice
was melting you apart then, the sunflower garden
picked apart for the hospital, 20 years ago.
Summer DriveA dragon of leaves
on a bright, sunny,
cloudless summer day.
All sunlight pouring in
through the space
between his branches,
making the river a mosaic
of leaves, light, and levered
loss: a few shaded curls
of brown, cracking foliage
loosed from his mane, fall
on my seat. I watch
his two horn tips
aglow in the stern air.
From underneath the riverbed,
my parents asleep at the wheel,
I stare upwards as we sink
river water pouring in,
gleaming like the leaves
that fall from an unknown
blisteringly bright day.
October HazeI drink to the sound of bells,
lifting the glass to my lips
just as fall maple
surrounds itself in a rain of falling
The redness of the sky
matches the redness in my cheeks,
the flushed lines of my face,
and the old porch
abandoned by all
the seasonal flood
of crimson leaves.
Soft wind scatters
the brown dust off the shelves.
A page falls before the breeze
and the red cover
seems split with age.
All the room is dust,
What my mind does not perceive
I still hear
as if in a dream.
Red leaf scatters.
The maple tree breathes.
I lift my lids to the sound of bells
and let loose
and the red, red dream.
other shadesi want to write the grey things--
the underneath of bridges
and floors of public bathrooms,
nightmistakes hanging on
fingering through dull hair
and resting in wasted breaths,
spilling from streets, greeting
clenched teeth and cold hands
and numb feet--
the hollow taste of the next
morning--the ashes you swallowed
to look glamorous, and the hair of everyone
in every photograph before 1840--
the smell of buses pulling passengers
to more promising places--
faded faces turned restless
toward the flat-rain sky,
spaces between the railroad ties,
and dusty dreams
postcardsi've been in an odd state
lately, can't quite figure
the roads here, directions confuse
me because left seems right
and right seems wrong, so i finally
decided to just stand still.
i remember i used to count on you
to read the directions when
we went somewhere together--
this time the directions blew
off the passenger seat onto the
floor somewhere, lost in the old
wrappers and papers and happily
neglected trash, so i'm sending you
i haven't been able to find you
in so long--your old address is useless now
so it will have to be returned to sender,
and when my words come back,
maybe the post office will have
written my new address next to them,
and i'll finally recognize where
i am right now.
cigaretteyou lit up in the relative
dark of my car at dusk--
i watched you flick your fingers
and throw a spark--
watched the slow burn in your
saw the hot flash when you
pressed your lips around and
noted the change in structure--
integrity lost a little more each
time you pulled in--
breathed in the essential inside
and breathed it out smoke,
which hung in the air around you,
circled around your fingers,
curled around your chest,
twisted through your hair and
looked you in the eyes before it
escaped into the cold outside.
no one's in control, reallywhen the dog warden showed up
and gave me a citation for not
having my dog properly registered,
i wanted to raise a graceful eyebrow
and a careless middle finger, and remark:
but then i thought about his bathroom sink,
how it probably looked like mine
with a dirty bar of soap, maybe a comb
grinning toothily at his thinning crown,
an old nailbrush, and i wondered
what sort of toothpaste he used.
I could picture him trying to buy it,
alone in a WalMart aisle debating,
weighing the merits of tartar control
against whitening gel, uneasy that maybe his teeth
were too yellow to find a nice girl, and
if he couldn't do that he'd disappoint
his impatient mother by not giving her
grand kids to pinch and bake for,
and wondering if he should buy enough
food for dinner for two, in case
his teeth proved white enough to win
him a date, and worrying that the
bad wheel on his shopping cart
that made it so hard to steer was
some sort of sign from the cosmos--
you're not in control
Gypsy Magici won you over
with a card-trick;
i did it over and over--
you watched my rings
and bracelets sparkle
and shine over the bar-top
your eyes danced
into mine, and you laughed
like bells and accused me
of gypsy magic when you
said you loved me.
i thought it might have been
a more fermented magic
that made your eyes look
like glass beads--that made you
lay your heart on the bar
with my diamonds and clubs
and tell me i was beautiful.
but i can admit a mistake
when i make one, and
you must have some magic too--
it's not easy to trap a gypsy
and tie her down, and it's
even harder to make her want to stay.
SupernovaIt was a '67 orange Chevrolet
Tinted windows, spattered paint
And the smell of hot sauce that never quite left
Leather kept the warmth of better summers
Dancing shoes and faded denim
Gas like Heaven on these city streets.
And wherever they went they took fireworks with them
Bursts of colour in the blackened sky
Just like popping paint balls against the drop sheets
Making love when there were backs to break and wars to see
No different than
A chugging engine, sand and burning feet.
Years later it still ran smooth like memories
Of slapping wasps and tipsy victories
Giving freely of their speckled innocence
And gaining something bittersweet.
SnowLet's lose our faces tonight
Chemical anxiety and paper highs
Thrown to the curb by something stronger, small and white
While stars burn out their insides; Prometheus in the sky.
I always thought you were a lie:
Stinking pop culture curling bright around my eye
But now I wonder if your treasure is something I could find
Leaping from the bass lines into my frenzied, eager mind.
'H' is for HopelesslyIn the yellow creases of bound novels
Eating shadows under the candlelight,
And faraway from frosted windows
Where legends dance 'round forest campfires
Witnessed by the older-than-magic moon,
In the sway of your robes and the swoop of your messengers
It's the same old sappy story.
Girl loves everyone
And boy loves girl.
I hate the way
The universe unfolds before you
Fortune climbs towards you
Like a puppy, playing to catch that honey gaze.
I hate the peals of daytime laughter that interrupt my midnight
And how you come splashing through the trees
Defying logic, as usual
As if grace when accomplishing the impossible
Was something natural
(And for you, that's probably the case.)
I hate your kindness
At times when I deserve so much less
Snakelike, I slither and curl
Avert my eyes in self-detest.
I hate the reason in your words
The way you bring the rest of us back to reality with a smile or an incline of your head.
I strongly dislike
Your inconsistent, odd sense of humour
Coffee StainsDress shoes click on the streets laid slick with cinnamon and wasted air
It's sugar on your lipstick, darling; a dangerous affair.
You chose coffee
Like you chose romance
Just for the idea of romance; cream and smoked wood swirling around in your cup,
And steam curling up into the atmosphere like the locks in his hair.
Tantalisingly dark and hauntingly aromatic
You craved it
You mocked the raven that eyed you from its branch out in the blustering courtyard and
You didn't even like the taste.
The silver curve of the teaspoon showed your warped reflection like a deathly omen
It showed the line of your neck and each glittering pearl
The hanging clock on the wall, for all its carved hearts and varnished oak
Couldn't quite drown out the tolling
Pendulum swinging by your ear as you ran your hand along the creases in the leather seat
The sweet, too-strong perfume mingling with the scent of the
Dark black coffee
Much as the gold around his wrist had
PetalsIf growing old means letting go
Of the smaller things that shade today,
If I cover each love like a petal in snow
Holding fast to one; tossing the others away,
Then I'll turn my withering visage there-from,
Deny maturity's paper claim
And cherish these things; hold them to my sinking form,
With my soul ever changing, ever feeling the same.
Hiding from a Salesman
She looked down the sunny, shimmery spot
Where the road becomes a river
And realized with a quiver,that
The gunmetal silhouette was close.
She tried to run, but her left shoe
Was stuck in molten pitch
She felt pins and needles under her toes.
(And in her neck where two drops of salt
Decided to join up, form a thin stream, and wait).
She left the shoe behind and ran
On a road so hot
That it felt icy
(Like a frozen Coke can).
One time she hid inside a rose bush and was covered in nicks
Another time she blended into the grey-blue shadow of a power plant
Another time she rested in a café restroom
Another time, behind a piñata,
A recycle bin, a Burmese Mountain Dog, a
Makeshift stage, a water-cooler, a cut-out of Justin Bieber;
She hid, held her breath, waited.
(He just won't take the hint
Holding his long, ready, poem in hand
He needed audience).
He needs her eyes, her palm
Her mouth making shapes
Of appreciation and gratitude.
(He somehow needs only her.)
A Matter of Time
A Matter of Time
You think Sandy's got vengeance in its eyes?
You see vengeance everywhere don’t you?
In the fast, wet winds churning around your Queens apartment
In the lightning flashes on Ocean Parkway where we walked once like a
Couple of refugees.
The waves will be taller than you, they’re saying
But I imagine you sitting on a grey dock somewhere
Oblivious of official warnings
Your dark wavy hair sticking to your forehead of scattered lies
Your hard, careless body framed in endless brine.
I might not be allowed to love you anymore
But the rules of capturing, consuming and catenating happen to be
As fluid as that road where water now rushes in the direction of
Gaping news cameras.
If you think Sandy’s got vengeance in its eyes
Why don’t you stop hiding behind words and walls and webs
And have a staring contest with me?
© Debjani Chakravarty 2012
As for you, SR
So Here's the Deal....
Your laugh lines
Must lead somewhere
Like smooth Malbec
Must hold its breath
Now and then
Your black waves of desert brush
Waiting for curious fingers
Must want to be licked hard
By restless orange flames
That "twinkle" in your eyes
(Endears you to people they say)
Might be masked flash of conniption
Considering all possibilities
(Of things such as my childlike smile
that you once pointed out)
You should be restrained
Chained to that tree
Of art, knives, whips, and time.
© Debjani Chakravarty 2012
Is seeping into the night
But not tonight
Loss of meaning you
Imposed on me.
Looking at the above
Sitting in a rattrap
Licking my knees
Tasting the shipwreck
Remembering how your long dark fingers
Played on my neck
Drunk with the desire to be Althusser's wife
You do realize that I am lurking like a lizard in your life?
I am changing colors, but somehow
It's you that remains hidden.
New myths subdivide
Like unknown shapes floating peacefully in
A dim sea of formaldehyde.
Poor you, busy painting your escapescape
Plateaus filled with concussioned hopes and things.
Meanwhile, the sea waits for you, for us
It's a matter of a million warped nights-spent-painting
Before you come
Float with me.
© Debjani Chakravarty 2012
A Cavalcade of GoldA cavalcade of golden horse
Alights from out the maples' grove -
Abreast the unsown eastern fields,
They march a subtle, rising slope;
They share in banter at the square,
And ask the baker for a taste
Of breads and sweets all freshly pinched
And cooling on a window-pane;
They greet the maidens tending yards
Along the velvet uptown rows -
As if to beg a favor, knelt,
With tresses tied in buns and bows -
And press on further, slow and sure,
A touch of leisure in their gait:
Their laughter calling mockingbirds,
Their easy songs delighting jays,
But where they near, I turn them out -
I close my blinds and beg their leave -
Their banners tailored much too bright
On eyes just roused from heavy sleep.
The Many Roads BetweenI glimpsed the specter of a small, but pregnant, pond,
Concealed behind a line of august firs -
A glimpse, and just as sudden, gone;
Keeping no destination, I chose a different route
Across the pale palette of a quiet countryside,
Too early for the yawns and sighs of Sunday blooms,
Where further on, as the sun did boisterously intervene,
I dreamt, once more, that tiny pond - and the many roads between.
None Came to SeeNone came to see the Spring-wrought rain
Engorge the river's stomach, a writhing vein
Of debris bound for yet unsown tides;
None except two boys who, in contest, vie
For hubris and a morsel of fame.
One mumbles a prayer, affirming his faith,
And fingers the pewter cross that he claims
Saved his life; solemn words, barely a sigh,
None came to see.
His companion scowls at the open display
Of worship and avows he is ready to race;
Side by side, they dare the river's wide
And muddied maw, a rippling veil which hides
The rocks cloaked beneath - an end to a game
None came to see.
ChartreuseChartreuse, the awakening of spring at the pond
with life floating by,
and the explosion of sweet upon Eve's first bite.
It's Mona Lisa's smile
tipping back a glass while outside
the ivy creeps and the neon bats it's eyes.
Meet me midway, between the buttercups
and grass anew, where it all began in Eden.
Summer CottageStep down, Visitor, off the porch's planks
down to lily-pad reflection and
the crayfish junction.
Wonder anew, Dreamer, of the paths ahead.
(Some less taken, others firmly tread)
But pause now, Listener, to ripple the sky
and stir it's contents with your toes.
A Song for Mothers and BirdsFor this nest,
an ordinary one at best,
Time is a neighbour knocking.
But bearing news,
and carrying Change in its pockets.
Our nest has no doors,
Yet Time's firm rapping resounds,
Announcing the departure of Spring
and of Birds.
Following my song East, I desire
For you to know,
That He shall grant you a new song,
For He forgets not the Sparrow.
Oh My Healer OceanSand scrubbed the flesh raw,
Shards of stone scourged the skin.
I've crossed another desert of life,
To the edge of water and madness.
Liquid tongues lick at wounds,
Taking tears out to sea,
Let salt lie with salt.
Stripped down to bare essence,
Floating in the arms of a soulless body.
Serene depths carry me from sun scorched shores,
Leaving my past behind to fade and forget.
No questions. No apologies.
And peace of mind.
To ---i am not asking for Your gifts,
But admit that i treasure
What is not mine.
Like those who writhe,
i touch unbelievingly,
All that's deemed divine.
What took all of me to confess,
With each unworthy breath?
Have i stolen Your time?
i can not give back
What is not mine.