Tuesday 31 May 2022

Three Poems by Dr. Ajanta Paul

 


Eyes

 

I have seen eyes that are

Like bits of beached glass

Hiding secrets of passages

 

On surging surf,

Carried far and wide 

By the random tide

 

Buffeted and buffed, opaque

In their secrecy, edges smoothed

By the constant slap of sloshing waves.

 

I have seen eyes that are hard

Like flint stones

Grey in their neutrality,

 

But ready to leap

Into fire at the hint

Of friction.

 

And those like chips of ice floes

Broken off some implacable glacier,

Which, flowing downstream got locked

 

In a river, inscrutable and old,

Where no ships docked

And nothing was ever bought or sold. 

 

 

Live, one Last Time

 

Push that syringe of sunshine

Into a body mouldy, veins musty

With blood that no longer sings

 

But croaks in patched plumbing

Like frost in kitchen pipes,

A bleak, bass, wintry tune

 

In the corporeal chorus of blues,

Accompanying the decline of all

Save longing for life.

 

The mahonias are overflowing

In the ebony vase of the night,

Their irresistible fragrance calls

 

Out to her: Breathe, breathe,

Inhale my sweet breath

Into your decaying sheath.

 

Let nothing, and no one

Come in the way

Of a feisty fightback

 

For you deserve, at least, a last revival,

Even if it's a blasphemous bacchanal,

A rebellious riot of resurgence,

 

A fleeting show of spirit

Before the final farewell

In life's ephemeral festival.

 

 

A Late Flowering

 

It was a late flowering

Long past its time.

Don't you see, the boughs

 

Are gnarled, they pointed out.

Moreover, there's a time for everything,

And this tree is past its prime.

 

When blossoms should have flowed forth

In cascades of froth

She was a like a cactus

 

Caught in her strange desert truth,

A whispering, wasted whirl 

In a sterile spiral.

 

When the first bud came along

She thought it was a fluke,

One of those things,

 

Not really a sign of hope,

No, not at all.

She was proved wrong

 

With the burst of song

That scattered its melody

On the withered being

 

Everyone had given up on

And no one suspected of

Gestating such glory, unbeknown,

 

A harvest sown

In the soul's due season

And miraculously produced when

 

She came into her own,

With rare profusion

Of sap and sapience.

 

A home for birds to nest in,

And insects to breed their dynasties

In the flutter and flight of little lives.

 

She who had been written off,

Long ignored, but for estimates

Of firewood yield

 

Assumed an aureole of flaming sparks

In imagination's bower 

As words flowered in destiny's dower.




Dr. Ajanta Paul is a poet, short story writer and literary critic who is currently Principal and Professor of English at Women's Christian College, Kolkata. A Pushcart nominee, her poems and short stories have been featured in literary journals such as Spadina Literary Review, The Pangolin Review, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Verse-Virtual, The Piker Press, Harbinger Asylum, Shot Glass Journal, Written Tales Magazine, The Bombay Review, The Statesman and Setu Bilingual Journal, to name a few. Ajanta has also published a collection of short stories - The Elixir Maker and Other Stories in 2019 (Authorspress, New Delhi). 

 

Five Poems by George Gad Economou

 




Cold White Wine

 

on a windy night, storm a-brewing,

 

cold bottle of white wine on the desk, stale tobacco in the pouch,

and Alan Jackson and Hank Williams (father and son) speaking to me.

 

staring outside, remembering lost friends, loves, embraces, life.

the dives of another country, the endless rows of drunks and junkies

populating parks and dark alleys.

 

the fancy establishments of this town, the razed hometown of dead dreams.

 

long gulps from the bottle that freezes my hand, sheaths of blue smoke rising

from the filled ashtray. too long since the last true alcoholic night,

a night of truth and cruel nightmares drowning in infernal pits.

 

the bottom reached too soon, another bottle cracked open,

cork thrown away, its purpose concluded.

 

cigarettes, white wine, and good music, teleporting me back to simpler times,

 

when nirvana and the great blue dragon were all I chased, all

I gave a damn about. when Emily would sit next to me,

smile, and say “let’s have another,” meaning the fourth

bottle of drugstore wine or second bottle of Kentucky rotgut.

 

each sip longer, more refreshing; hitting the aching heart,

kindling the perishing soul. Emily, her lips on mine, as we

 

dance under the Purple Rain. now, all alone,

 

the storm my only friend. another bottle.

Hank, I too am so lonesome I could cry. it’s all right.

you made it; perhaps, I’ll make it. only a year younger than you were

when you left the world.

 

plenty of time for the last chapter.

 

a dash to the liquor store. a visit

to the nearby bar. somewhere where Emily’s spirit’s still alive and kicking.

 

somewhere. far far fucking away. alcohol-fused poems.

 

jumping off the wagon; it comes back and drives over me.

again and again. I ain’t climbing back up!

 

it’s over. bottle number four, sun’s coming up, a deluge comes and people

go to work under pink umbrellas.

 

I go to bed, finally free. Emily’s at the Bar, taking odds for my arrival.



Drunk Moments of Perfect Sanity

 

after a few (six-packs of) beers, the mind

races; countless thoughts, memories thought lost in the abyss,

faces and words barely recalled.

 

they all come back, the mind becomes itself

 

and the demons are allowed some time in the yard

for a smoke, or ten.

 

those moments matter the most; the drunk moments

you’re yourself. perhaps, encouraging people to get drunk

 

is frowned upon today. looking back

 

at the great drunken figures of yesterday,

 

how can anyone advise against alcohol?

 

all the brilliant minds sought the liberation booze proffers,

the magic ability to see things clearly, and differently.

 

sure, there are negatives; you might say things you come

to regret—truths

you’d never admit sober.

 

the thoughts are already there; the madness is already there.

 

the drink unlocks the cages in the abysmal mind

freeing the prisoners: monsters, cruel demons, repressed memories,

suppressed thoughts and opinions.

 

you view the world under new, different, crystal-clear lenses

(even if at first they appear blurry) and that’s what we should

all seek out.


 

Burning Candle

 

always lit, a simple reminder of better times—though cruel and

stained by rock, smack, and glass, it was those

magnificent mornings, when you held my hand

as I was about to pour it all in my body and let my soul

 

fly high up at the Bar, that kept me fucking alive.

 

now, I’ve got nothing; could only utter the dreaded “I love you”

to cheap replacements I thought would mend

the gargantuan hole in my psyche and heart.

 

I stare at the dancing flames of

the flickering candle struggling in the merciless rain;

nothing left to live for, only the dreams that

still come in the middle of heartless nights to remind me

of what could have been.

 

in moments like these, these dry nights of pure nothingness,

I reach out, hoping to feel your hand in mine.

catch nothing but

frigid air, soulless ghouls haunt the streets and I stay

locked inside; I hear “Purple Rain” everywhere, reminiscing

how we silently danced that very first time.

 

how it felt it was something fairy tales are made of.

it had the opportunity, only (like me) our romance writer

was a fucking realist. only fitting, and I

 

keep on writing, too, still fighting to earn my stool at the Bar.

 

I still (it’s been eight long dark years) seek for

your hand, your soft whisper in my ear, your fiery kiss.

 

the streets, the dives, the hour-rate motels have

nothing to show for. nothing even resembling our late nights of

staring at the heavy snowfall while burning an 8ball.

 

the candle still flickers despite the storms, despite the deluge,

the snowstorm, the menacing monsters blowing at it.

 

still flickering, struggling, fighting for every second of life.

 

in the withering flame I see your eyes; finally crack up a quavering smile.


 

Relics on Barstools

 

a sixty-year tenure on one barstool,

eligible for retirement if boozing was a respected profession,

every order of Jim neat and PBR back treated with reverence

 

just in case it’s the very last. all these years,

at the crack of dawn, even in the midst of heavy drunken sleep,

the opening of the bar calls upon them like a doped rooster,

 

plodding through alleyways to make it for first call,

first order of the day—for some, it might be the last—

sixty years on a barstool, making it to seventy, living longer

than gym rats, sometimes,

 

seeing through pandemics, wars, terrorist attacks, neoprohibitionism;

always there, Jim and PBR offering warmth and safety

against viruses, landlords, police officers, nagging spouses.

 

if only boozing and day labouring could offer a decent retirement plan;

if the doctors in the charity ward did not prioritize dries; if only…

 

the third round murders the what-ifs; the fifth allows the sun to shine.

reaching the tenth means seeing yet another day through to last call.


 

Endless Nights

 

nothing’s changing for years—I still see your eyes in

dreams that turn into nightmares, because you OD in them like

you did on my foldout couch—staring at

pictures of some that came after you—their eyes never emitting

the same glow, that glint that, even after a fifth of bad gin, never

failed to rejuvenate me—I sit here with some Plymouth gin,

staring at the photograph of someone else, thinking of you

 

the night shall soon end, fuck it, I’ll drink the morning

away, like we did many times—remember when we

binge-watched MASH while swilling box wine?—honey,

I can’t rewatch the show without getting nostalgic,

your kisses wet my arid lips and the gin only briefly

washes away the taste of ghost strawberry—are things better

over there? are you drinking Dionysus under the table?

 

tell the Devil I’m coming—make him quaver in his fancy tux.

our nights ended so long ago, I often think they occurred

in another lifetime—music fills the room, songs from the days

we drank everyone under rusty tables—come back, just for a night,

let us show the world how it’s done—back then we’d make Buk proud,

you were my Jane, and hotter than Faye—I pour me another drink, killing

another night just because

I can’t bear living with your thoughts.




Currently residing in Greece, George Gad Economou holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy of Science and supports his writing by doing freelance jobs whenever he can get them. Has published a novella, Letters to S. (Storylandia) and a poetry collection, Bourbon Bottles and Broken Beds (Adelaide Books). His drunken words have appeared in various literary magazines and outlets, such as Spillwords Press, Ariel Chart, Fixator Press, Piker’s Press, The Edge of Humanity Magazine, The Rye Whiskey Review, and Modern Drunkard Magazine.

 

Five Poems by Maria Downs

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