Friday 26 November 2021

Five Poems by Ajanta Paul






smelling of rain

and clouds from faraway lands


trailing diaphanous diaries

of monsoon, miasma and mist,


dispersing into the dank subsoil,

their fetid freight of fears,


sifting anguished aquifers

springs welling with tears,


the thud of clod on coffin

dull sound of finality.




is soil with its bustling banter

between microbes and minerals,


red, black, white and brown, bits of bodies,

organic residue mingled in pain,


the anthropomorphic angina

of heartland in agony,


carrying in its veins

the susurration of streams


and the smell of crushed stone

in hushed geological gossip.




which can revive

only if the world recedes


topography held in tension

by coordinates that conspire


to map a memory, clear

as a festival morning, sheer


in the sunshine of simple faith

reimagining abundance in loam,


resisting alluvial angst

to redeem a lost kingdom.




is that ubiquitous powder, dust,

ground in the whetstone of time's lust


flying in the face of glory

challenging life to retain its superiority,


the gritty, grainy, grimy destiny

of statues and men alike,


its dancing motes scripting

an ephemeral, shifting story


belying its stable inevitability

as our eventual, collective history.

Origami of Outfits


I fashioned a new me,

folding osteoarthritic limbs

like stiff paper on a cut-out


in the origami of outfits

that informs the sartorial saga

of this poor show.


The brace will embrace

the recrafted warrior 

come to life in a new dress,


armour for battle stress

in the fight for existence,

shield protecting my brittle ribs,


artfully concealing the little fibs

with which I try to beguile my wits,

essentially, a cage enclosing another,


a straight jacket, rather,

designed to uphold the tired torso

in a relentless reinforcement


of metal, thread and cloth

valiantly striving to ward off

the inevitable rust and moth.


The belt around the waist

is not Hippolyta's girdle

seized by Hercules to overcome his hurdle


but an orthopaedic reminder, 

of the decadal calendar

and its toll on the skeleton of truth.


It's age's appendage, geriatric adage, 

a caring clasp, firm with advice sage,

to help one get through the day


by keeping the lower vertebrae

in their appointed places,

lest they droop or bend


or, in any way descend

in the general degeneration of things,

and thus the rules offend.


I wonder, would the cervical collar

have helped Atlas bear better

the weight of the world on his rugged shoulders?


As long as thoughts defy

The general decline

And refuse to calcify


There will be hope and dream

Behind those eyes sanguine,

Resisting the rigours of rheum.


No Return


When the soul splits

Like the sole of your shoe,

And yawns with every step,


The tongue hanging out

Yapping its frustration

On the hard pavement,


Echoing amidst the sounds

Of a city going to sleep

In the cold clasp of winter,


The trundle of the last bus,

Dogs barking in nights of nowhere,

The crunch of twigs beneath tired feet


You feel all the words

Have been said, promises unmade,

And signs read.


The last mile left to be trod

Blurs into milestones

Like crosses in a war cemetery,


Pale and white in the rain

The wood whittled down

To a sparseness sadly eloquent


Of names on a plaque,

At once anonymous and intimate

In their mingling of life and death.



Everywhere I turn

there are shining surfaces,

from moon reflecting sun


to window pane

refracting afternoon sheen,

before which schoolgirls


pause and preen,

self-consciously tucking in

a stray strand of hair,


the glass on the trial room wall

in the multifarious mall

confusing with a profusion of options,


Eden before the Fall

pure and natural,

wrapped in a luminous shawl,


the lens of levity, stretching

in a series of distorted images

in the circus tent of life,


the rear view mirror

crowded with traffic

in memory's thoroughfare.


There's no respite

from the looking glass,

and its likenesses


at every bend and turn

invariably surrounding one,

beyond and within,


the brilliant crystal sphere

glinting with glimpses

of a revolving future,


the prism of the past

catching through its facets

vibrant vistas and vignettes


along with promise unfulfilled

sparkling like a teardrop

in the eye of fate.



He had seen her somewhere,

on the fringe of a crowd

in the cusp of ages,


at the edge of memory,

in a reflection on water

wavering and splintering,


heard her in a tune haunting the mind,

the echo of an elusive strain,

wafting the eternal question,


had felt her as design melting into other designs,

forever forging new connections

in the ever-expanding web of signs,


like the face that people see, or think they see

in a tangle of branches, or clouds,

or cracks in an old wall,


in anything at all,

when they're not really looking

for it, or anything in particular,


and it insinuates itself

into their vision, only they can see it

at that time and place


that sudden leaping configuration

trembling with imminent dissolution,

created by things, random.


Dr. Ajanta Paul is an academic from Kolkata, India who writes poetry, short stories and literary criticism. She has published in literary journals including Spadina Literary Review, The Pangolin Review, The Piker Press, Shot Glass Journal, Poetic Sun, The Wild Word, Capella, The Punch Magazine and The Bombay Review. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2020. Ajanta published a collection of short stories The Elixir Maker and Other Stories in 2019( a book of poetic plays The Journey Eternal in 2013 (

One Poem by David Russell


Homage to the Priestess

a response to Lauren Scharhag's beautiful Priestess poem


Your braided hair a magnet 

Which made a mightier charge 

When braids were loosened, 

Loose hair of airy silkiness 

Deep echoed by your robes, 

A second layer of stole. 

Oh was it you 

Who catalysed the masses 

To raise that so palatial temple, 

Make fitting bowers and chambers 

For godly visitations 

Oh with the work complete, 

were you then bound  

And sheltered in that shrine 

Regaled by one-way visitation? 

Or did you opt to venture forth 

And match great warriors  

In trials of strength  

Your loosened tresses 

Pierced the earth’s thin crust; 

You took the plunge, 

Became the element 

Wherein you were immersed – 

The planet’s seas, rivers and rivulets, 

Boundary of fresh and saline. 

Would that I could decipher 

Your sacred knotted codes, 

Gain access to your truths. 

Would that I could span  

The gulfs of time 

For you to cross that bridge 

Your fleshly zest, exuberance 

Preserved, as hair and bone, 

Beacons of my reassurance.

David Russell


Five Haiku by Minal Sarosh




clock tower 

the bird and time 

flying away




weaver bird’s nest 

on bits of paper 

my words




owl’s hoot 

this night dreaming with

open eyes




old ship

what can break this chain 

of listlessness ?




fresh coconut 

the green grocer’s call climbing 

the buildings

Minal Sarosh is an awarded Indian English poet, haiku poet and novelist. She lives in Ahmedabad, India.


She has done her Masters in English Literature from Gujarat University. She is an ex banker.


She has published two novels, Soil for My Roots ( 2015) and Wicked Money (2020) . And her two poetry collections are Mitosis & Other Poems ( 1992) and A Lizard’s Tail and Other Poems (2020).


She has won awards at the All India Poetry Competition 2005, of The Poetry Society (India) Delhi, ( Commendation Prize); Creative Writing Competition 2006 of Unisun Publications, Bengaluru  (Third Prize); SMS Poetry Competition 2007 & 2008 Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai (Third Prize); Unisun Reliance TimeOut Book Club Awards 2008-09 (Special Mention). 


For her haiku poems she has won the 7th Akita International University President’s Award 2018, English section ( First Prize) Japan; The 8th Akita International Haiku Contest 2019, English Section (First Prize - joint winner ) Japan; Fifth H. Gene. Murtha Senryu Contest 2020 ( Third Prize) U.S.A;  Finalist at the ‘First Annual Trailblazer Contest’ 2021.

Three Poems by James Eric Watkins


Within the Mountain Steam


my spirit begins

to rise yet remains

connected to the earth.


It rises like the first

breath rises in the morning,

off the mountains.


It sifts up from the ground,

around and through the decades

of leaves, the way water moves,


through the channels,

the valleys on the bark

of the ancient oak and pine trees,


travels through the synapse

of open air . . . and changes

form---until it’s gone.


But before that,

it sets the tone of intent

of those who listen to the language,


and become aware

of a better understanding

of who they are and of what they are a part of,


of the lessons

clearly being taught

in the rising of the mountain steam.

Truth Glides


It smilecries.

It gently but forcefully

moves through spacetime

flaps its wings through the mist

of the past, the present, and the future

simultaneously taps its tips against the water’s surface.


It faces you

even when it’s running

up behind you.

The thing

with hope

has feathers.


It soars so high

dips and dives

in through day

and out through night

flies toward my eyes.

Yet I turn away . . . just before impact.


And just before

its talons pierce my flesh

my wounds heal

and I watch it carry

my still-beating heart

away . . . dripping in the treetops. 





Winter blows in, shivers goosebumps 

to the surface of my perception, to

the surface of my skin. It blows in snow storms 

covering once-flourishing fields 

where few stalks stand here and there. 


But mostly death adorns the landscape and the frozen air.


The vultures, their feathers shine as black as wintertime. 

Their eyes are even blacker. They swoop down upon me. 

They swarm all around me.


Waving my arms, wildly,

I manage to smack one down. His 

body makes a thud

against the cold ground.


But this wasting of energy 

is futile I find, so I smile 

and squint into the blinding 

sunlight and watch, from the corner

of my eye, the birds return 


to the sky with bloody bits

of compassion and flesh

in between their beaks

and underneath their claws.

James Eric Watkins is an Opa, father, husband, and creator of many different forms of art. He exists on the far side of sanity, better known as Indiana. James is the editor/publisher of Flowers & Vortexes, Creative Magazine.

Six Poems by R. W. Stephens

  Like Extended Haiku       Tango music muted , o pen window    Fading summer light s hadows   C hair on the porch   An empty glass       ...