AlibiI found your shadow on my left right behind the door that wore a window to my thoughts, opaque to your world views, North Korea, gluten and gun control, but closer home, than our common yesterday. I let me unpack, a backpack with pockets deeper than memory— unzipped, lighter than muslin unworn, laced with denim drives dusty with laughter, our footprints on the fallen shadow which now dances with the candle ambitious to grow into a lantern, certain about the light that shines on with fireflies in the bottle that once housed marmalade and a smuggled sun in our very own backyard. ***
No man’s landThe gun was there where he left it, felt it with his left foot, the right foot lay wrapped in a cast like a secret — that wars are like cigarettes you hide from children, parents, only a lover can tell with a kiss about whiff of smoke or gunfire, like she could tell each time the story a night of strange lipstick on his collar that you first hid but then wrote a code with your fingertips on the cast on your foot, this time she knew it was blood not lipstick that you thought hurt her more than shells, you were wrong—she knew you lay longer with war then her, knew that blood was not lipstick, you found your dreams safe inside her but she sealed her lips of that night as they opened the lips of her womb and mowed the war in her — he felt the gun again it was there where he left it—its loaded now. ***
No God’s landSee water catch fire, friends grow into strangers over conversations that never happen. Few play with vitriol others poke fun at stones, give them wings in crossfires likes elves who fix it all over no man’s land, sew contracts, win arms, lose limbs over one kind of green fans strife, buys whims to trend in a losing battle, new waters burn the journal of unpaid history, a mosque lies where was once a temple, some say, they say, we say nothing, do nothing but wait for the waters to burn, the tide to turn again red again to bury or burn gods. ***
Barnali Ray Shukla is a writer, filmmaker and poet. Her creative writing has featured in journals and anthologies including Indian Ruminations, Sunflower Collective, OutOfPrint, Kitaab.org, OUTCAST, Vayavya, Madras Courier, Voice and Verse Poetry Magazine (Hong Kong), and elsewhere. She was the India-winner of the R L Poetry Award 2016 that resulted in her debut poetry volume, Apostrophe (2017). Her new poems feature in the Sahitya Akademi anthology of poetry by Younger Indians (2019).
Read more poetry on Bengaluru Review: “You must be proud of the scars”: Four poems by Cat Dixon “I remember my brother’s sudden screams”: Three poems by Yvonne Morris “Bones are not love-handles”: Four poems by Kuhu Joshi