Monday 29 August 2022

Four Poems by Dr. Anissa Sboui

 


 

The Quranic School

by Dr. Anissa Sboui

 

At dawn, the father carries the sacred book

Accompanies his son to the quasi academic institute

Ignoring he’d be caught like a fish hook

What a bluff, the wicked Islamic clerics, constitute

 

At noon, #humblebrag diffuses the news

Enlightening the ordinary citizens’ minds

Childhood desecrated: check the host’s interviews

Of most alarming situation, she reminds:

Dogma of dark brews,

Destructive ideas mirror tainted behinds

 

At night,   father   ,  unable to sleep

Nightmarish days do creep

His wife begins to weep

A foggy future where shame is deep…

 

 

Read to Lead

 

If I read, I lead

Mediocrity, I supersede

Footprints of bad faith, I exceed

To drown the past, I need

 

If I read, I lead

Stretched cells to bleed

Searching for wit, I heed

Like the surgeon in the Operating Room, I proceed

 

If I read, I lead

Soul is freed

Mind is geed

Useless seed

Pulled like weed

For insight I speed

 

If I read, I lead

Book nerd, indeed

On pages, I feed

Delivering no screed

 

If I read, I lead

Learning is the greed

The current creed

Is to succeed


 

Dancing with the Wall

 

A woman,    alone     , in the fall

dances

dances

dances

White wall waits, wanting warm waste

Legs left the ground

Bounces like a magnetic doll

A swift plastic train

Rolling round the room

Children catch not its wagons

Vaporized like fake foam

 

A woman,  alone  , in summer keeps

dancing

dancing

dancing

 

Wrapping ‘bra-burning’ around her breast

Tapping the sick back

To rhyme with the swinging neck

Swollen thighs are like balloons

Needy of deflating the deadly fat

 

A woman    , alone     , in spring can

dance

dance

dance

The wall is her safe fence

To drop her to dormant romance

Rosy radiation

Follows the rhythmic beat

Projection of silence, in defence

 

 

The Little Thief

 

Along the warm way

Excitement contains their boredom

Like the infringement

Of the Pirate Bay

How to allay

The fear of uttering an insane bray

 

That woeful day

When folks betray

Squander the excessive bounty

Balls of cotton

Shift into streams of grey

 

That sad day

Twists into startling decay

Trust is now thrown away

Nothing is left to convey

But to worship God and pray

 

Shadows are swallowed by

The encroaching ray

The stealing foray

A misdeed to relay

A little thief, they portray,

Swerves their holiday

 

Like a macaque, not allowed to stay

As her eyes, to the white cellular, do stray

Not knowing how much they pay

Thinking it is a mere parlay

To bring joy to sweet Jay

 


 

Dr. Anissa Sboui -A University teacher and poet from Sousse, Tunisia -The writer of Transcend (2018), Rebirth (2019) and Number One (2020), The Co-Avid Breath (2021), Hurricane (2022) Two short-stories, entitled “Alone” and “Coincidence.” Her poems featured in Writing in a Woman’s Voice, The Writers’ Club, Galaxy: International Multidisciplinary Research Journal, Dumpster Fire Press, Medusa’s Kitchen, The 2020 Annual by the Elizabeth River Writers, Valiant Scribe, Literary Heist,  World Anthology, Impspired Magazine.


 

Five Poems by Ajit Kumar Bhoi - Translated into English by Pitambar Naik

 


Our Hunger is your Curiosity

Ajit Kumar Bhoi

 

You civilised who are researching on civilisation

we’re an element in your research

from our nudity to our clothing

from our dialect to our spirits and deities

now your eyes are at our dry stomachs

endeavouring to know whether the intestines

of us are made of flesh or iron. 

 

Our hunger is your curiosity,

how do these people live?

How do they live on fine-grained clay,

air-potato yams, tubers with stream water,

the research team has come to know this

taking notes and pens interrogating us bit by bit. 

 

How do we feel hungry, why do we feel hungry

when do we feel hungry? Heaps of questions!

we don’t have any answers to these questions, sir

if you can, cut off our stomachs and carry on your

research in your laboratory

when the research is over, bring back our

stomachs and stitch them to our bodies. 

 

There’s nothing as such in these stomachs

keep them with you as long as you want

we’d be saved from hunger at least for some days

it’d be good if the government would know

and the administration would know

the rich and capitalists would know

you’d know what hunger actually meant to us and

how we live on mango seeds and fine-grained clay! 

 

 

The Fate of the Burnt Bricks

 

In the play of the sun and shadow—-how’d the sun

build the fate of the deciduous trees?

Like the hunger of Kalahandi, the bonded labour

in the market where man is sold

having burnt in the kiln of hunger

how’d the burn bricks speak out? 

 

Where the tongue that has eaten the mango seeds 

is pulled off from Bhawanipatna to New Delhi

and elongated to other streets and cities

because of the tongue’s greediness, the democracy

is excessively reddish

the tongue eats but it doesn’t reach the stomach

and is soothed with a sort of mantra

what kind of mantra is this? 

 

When the kilns in Andhra Pradesh burn the soil

becomes terribly red

because of the filthiness of the coalition of the dwarfs,

the lame, the illiterates and the sycophants burn

and the nation carries carcasses; these are the

ones who craft the fate of the burnt bricks.  

 

Here a maiden is deserted by a mother and

the moon hovers on the broken roof of the house

the meat-eating dogs, eagles and vultures

surround the house 

there the mother sees the face of the daughter

in the face of the moon

and the moon sees the thick darkness clutching

so tight the body of the maiden

through the broken ceiling of the house. 

 

 

The Moon Over My Village 

 

This moon pops up every day, eyes at my village.

My village hasn’t yet been concrete

looks through the tiled-roof holes, it’s crystal clear—-

 

rice porridge of 2 rupees, the whining

of the throats with hiccups

the bow and the arrows of brother Cheremaru

hanging on the dilapidated wall.

 

Hey moon, look further at the cracked paddy field of

Khutla uncle, the drifting dead body in the  current

of waters and the smoke of the old lady, Mayeena.

When the sun rises, a pregnant

mother would go as a bonded labour. 

 

It’s heard from the far-off mountain that one hundred

and eight valleys would metamorphose into dead bodies

the corporate companies are bargaining that

the Kalahandia clouds will be sold out.  

 

Hey, moon what’s left over to see—-the bonded

hunger, melancholy, a panicky jungle of Domen,

Ghasen, Gurbari, Metna and Makaru, isn’t it all?

 

 

Tracing the Roots to the Earth 

 

You face towards the moon and dream to build

a house in the kingdom of the moon

and consume time measuring the horizon of the sky.

You seek meteor after meteor

plucking the sun, you embellish the restaurant and tuck

the entire constellation into the bun of your beloved.   

 

Glueing the falling comets in the wind

you tie them up on the street light poles across

the city, in just a snapping of fingers

you can divert the current of the river

and build so many reservoirs

like the Hirakud and the Indravati

the termites of history are eating

Pardhiapally hamlet, the abandoned

baby goats of Pinky, the screeching of cattle shed

all seem fresh, who could feel this trauma?    

 

Neither the glowing shameless moon risen on the

chest of the Sukhtel river nor the defeated sharp

blade of the gun in front of that eighty years old man

if at all you want, ask that pregnant mother

who’s leaving the soil and mahua flowers would say

but they are going to your sky

in search of the earth; oh, people of the sky

can you show them a palm-full of soil?    

 

 

Tree

 

In one blow the tree fell off, and the birds flew off at once

now the sky is their world, there’s no tree in the sky

how would they keep their foot?

Now a phobia has swept the gods, how to plant trees?    

 

It’s decided to dump all the faults on the displaced birds

else the gods will be unmasked by the masked humans.

In just one blow the men fell off, and the dead were made

bear the weapons and it’s declared that these were all terror.

 

In one blow the moon fell down, there’s a phobia

among the lovers, how to love? A moon is needed for

lovers now, a man is needed and a tree is needed too. 

 

Translated from the Odia by Pitambar Naik

 

Ajit Kumar Bhoi graduated from Sambalpur University in 2013 with a BA degree and started writing poetry in 2015. People’s struggles like displacement, caste atrocities and alienation force him to write. He is a Middle School Teacher. He was born and brought up in Kuliapada, Kalahandi (Odisha) in India.

Pitambar Naik is an advertising professional. He reads creative nonfiction for Mud Season Review. His work appears or is forthcoming in The McNeese Review, The Notre Dame Review, Packingtown Review, Rise Up Review, Ghost City Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Indian Quarterly, and The World That Belongs To Us HarperCollins India among others. The Anatomy of Solitude (Hawakal) is his debut book of poetry. He grew up in Odisha and lives in Bangalore India.     

 

 

 

 

Five Poems by Richard Long


 

Auger

 

I biked to the winter pond

without bait, a hook, or line,

not even a starter log for a fire,

and as I stood at the edge of it

the dead weight of all my wrongs

twisted like an auger to the bottom

where a cold blue hand signed

Share what’s left of your body heat.

 

And when I gripped it, I trembled

at the blossom of hallucination—

a boy in tears lost in the woods

happening upon my bike, the shake

of what was left of my body heat

wrapping around him as he rode away.


 

Dream Big

 

Sometimes when I’m dead

tired and I stop on the shoulder

of the road and cars speed by

 

I remember Mother

would always admonish me

to be home by supper.

 

Way back I was biking home

from Wrightsville Beach

and didn’t get any farther

 

than the other side of the waterway

and there was no way to let Mother know

I’m not coming home,

 

don’t keep supper waiting,

I’ll never wake up.


 

Sanctuary Light

 

On a Sunday daddy gave me my bike

with the training wheels and followed me

up the hill to the evangelical church.

 

The morning was already blue and hot

and when we walked in my red tie had bled

into the wet splotches of my white shirt.

 

I now remember even daddy was military stiff

as a snake wrapped around the pastor’s neck

and he too couldn’t comprehend the sermon

 

delivered in the twitch of an unknown tongue

and how he diverted attention to a blackbird

at the window and how it kept on screeching

 

until it gave up the ghost and flew away

as daddy marched me from the sanctuary.


 

The Desert of Lost

 

I took a wrong turn,

the dark was coming on,

and just like that

was lost in the desert.

Nowhere was shelter,

a picnic table

for spreading my gear,

an outlet to charge my phone.

 

There in the desert of lost,

without electric, water,

no signal, nothing to eat,

not even a mummy bag to keep

me warm, beneath stars

I fell dead asleep.


 

The Good Semblance

 

I don’t know where I’ve gone

or how long I’ve been lost

when I turn to pedal home.

 

Time and distance have blurred

into a mountain of hallucination

until suddenly clear at the range

 

stands Mother, cooking chicken

and dumplings as my semblance

could be mistaken for the steam.

 

A china bowl cracks and Mother

senses all is well—I am home

from my lesson at music school

 

to tell her about my day

and play my clarinet for her.


Richard Long is a retired English professor in Santa Rosa, California. Since 1996, he has edited 2River, www.2River.org, quarterly publishing The 2River View and occasionally publishing individual authors in the 2River Chapbook Series.

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