"We pretended never to know the dark": Three poems by Sujash Purna that you'll read again and again

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"We pretended never to know the dark": Three poems by Sujash Purna that you'll read again and again

Poetry by Sujash Purna

The Brick Mahal by the Railroad

There are mouths that feed words in the cells
that travel past the cardiac arrests
in an upstate swing motion, in Amtrak veins.

I am past the age I cannot walk past a red brick Mahal
without thinking there used to be people talking
inside; now it’s all nests of birds. The roof fell in

in an old storm, long ago,
I wanted to to be a scientist someday,
so I could create a machine

that captures the noise
in the air, like vacuum cleaners,
the bags behind them shaking with weight
of our words,

as if you bagged stones of rubble;
the brick mahal’s roof didn’t fall for no reason;
you didn’t learn the words for no reason;

our pages were grown out of fern in the night dew,
to catch the image of the abandoned house,
decayed and forlorn, crickets chirping,
beads of drops resting, cradled in folds of rust,
rubble and debris, broken pieces,
waiting words, patient patiently.


Stricter Looser

makeover marination through an incidental amnesty
higher power break and lead, in lines, in lanes

they separated the room temperature from the outside
chills seeping through the pores of remorse

your walls are are a sham revolution, your
ignorance the fodder to go to our graves so early

you have to make an attempt to the teensiest sense
to know the utter insensibilities they feed us

with funnels of fear: keep your borders strict,
don’t let the babadook leak, when the real

poltergeist lives and commands from the attic
sour patch taste in your mouth, you dehydrate

until the late December Christmas bells
tell you it’s time to stir, cross over the lines

too long like cruise control on a highway
divided the metal body of a consumptive glee

kept you from a reckoning, the ugly of the heart
telling you things all wrong, all along. Break free!


Alibis Do Not Work When You’re Young

Mood swings change the conversation.
The colors of beetles crawling out of the dark
tailing you to your sleep, they follow like lies.

Until the girl held in prison screams you up
awake in the dead of night, you’re perspired,
yet, the magnetic name tags won’t fall.

When you clutch on to them as you squeeze
the past out to drain into the hole of no remembrance,
the turn of the screw will come to haunt you;

the teeth shaped words among the cluttering,
clasping, clearing of the venting caterpillars
that never will be born into butterflies,

into the light, the dead are supposed to fly
but they are stuck like alibis that never worked
against you, against me, or anyone else.

We pretended never to know the dark:
the coil of smoke comes out the metal,
breaks out see-through sifted through the pile


Bangladeshi-born Sujash Purna is a graduate student at Missouri State University. A poet based in Springfield, Missouri, he serves as an assistant poetry editor to the Moon City Review. His poetry appeared in Naugatuck River Review, Kansas City Voices, Poetry Salzburg Review, English Journal, Stonecoast Review, Red Earth Review, Emrys Journal, Prairie Winds, Gyroscope Review, and others. His first book of poems, Biriyani, came out from Ohio's Poet's Haven Author Series in 2018.

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