Sunday 15 August 2021

Srabani Bhattacharya, Poetry 2021 Third Prize

Exiled to Page

Exiled to four square page

From roads of comfort

That twist past buildings

piercing blue-white sky

that shade balloon sellers

with tricolour wares

standing before yellow-red

shops selling eggs on bread.

From tea shacks pouring

Mud-potions in smoky cups

sipped while watching water

from planters on windows

drip on man taking afternoon

nap on bundles of garbage

on iron cart resting

beside imposing mall.

From daring dogs crossing

the zebra and roadside

sculptures pointing at

party flags rustling

in footpath stores with

shoes advertised in hooks

beside which men fight

summer heat under tree

rising out of concrete.

From the curve of flyovers

which angle close to

skies to coo with pigeons

squabbling on electric lines

only to bend down again

to beggars who squat

on saffron towels with

the stone sage statue at

junction where hoardings

promote PUJA SALE.

From that quaint café

where we once bought

incense, inhaling sweat

and fumes from cigarette

and stove that burn omelettes

for lunch that hungry workers

slurp beside public toilets

where pink flowers scale

mottled pillar of petrol pump.

Exiled from myriad roles

of flaneur bus rider,

seat disputes reduce

to withdrawal signs

of masked delirium where

pencils brake before

metaphorical truck to

reminisce HORN OK PLEASE

and smog from automobile

pollute quarantined lines

of exiled rhyme.

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