Poetry: New Poems

Poems which have been published in journals or anthologies, but not included in a published book; these poems will appear in her forthcoming collection.


The song of humpbacked whales –
sound air makes when you blow through conch shells –

Their uniquely decorated flukes fall on waves,
huge white flippers slapping the water.

Forests, canyons, rivers, waterfalls,
vast double rainbows that hold us in thrall.

Imagine a grizzly bear on its haunches
in the bend of the river scooping up silver slivers,
tossing minnows into its yawning mouth.

Blush of a bride in the sky at sun rise, sun set
spread in ever widening abandonment.

A smoking volcano blowing spectacular hoops
of fire, molten lava flowing for days,
depositing ash on the tray of land.

Imagine cloud formations of all configurations,
dove white to crow black, altocumulus to tornado chasers.

The smile of a camel filling the desert;
a cheetah in motion, the dance of King Cobras; 

Sighing of leaves when the wind gives them a shake;
hawks rising on tides of wind, soaring on wild wings streamlined.

Imagine a colony of bats meditating upside down
on an ancient tree grown big like a grandparent –
branches, trunk, roots jostling together for space.

The beauty of a snow leopard living in recluse
at the feet of majestic Mount Everest.

Imagine the wings of a butterfly hovering;
their translucency in moonlight revealing…

Now open your eyes wide and witness
our world bereft of nature’s blessing.

Published in The Literary Review, USA, and The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry edited by Sudeep Sen (HarperCollins, India; 2012).

All You Can Do

Here’s your thunder stolen by others,
your losses, ships that never return.

Here’s your life passing slowly by,
your body of song promising all it can do.

Here’s your heart reaching out to others,
your thoughts fresh rays of sun.

Here’s your dream scattered across the sky,
falling stars not knowing what they can do.  

Here’s hope gold at the edge of the rainbow,
inscribing lives that spell the light.

Here’s your fear walking in front of you,
thinking there is nothing you can do.

Here are your hands, place them in mine;
I’ll show you the world is yours.

Here’s your true love waiting for you,
your tree of life, radiant in bloom.

Here’s what you do, what you can do,
it’s your future, make of it what you will –

Here’s life in all its squalor and splendor,
here’s your world and all you can do.

Published in The Little Magazine, India, and ArtemisPoetry, UK.

Just Wanted

Just wanted to say… I ….

You interrupted me with a wave
of your hand, as if to say:

“You don’t have to say it, yet…
We barely know each other; we’ve only just met.”

Which you did! And I said:
What’s wrong with saying it to friends?

To which you responded incredulously:
“You say it to all your friends?”

Yes, I say it to all my friends –

“You do? Perhaps, you don’t mean it?
I mean… not in the same way?”

Of course, I mean it; why else say it!

“Well, what can I say –
thought things between us were special.”

Yes, they are; that’s why I want to say it.

“Say it as if you mean it.”

I’ll do my best, I said flushing my winter
throat with mulled wine and Xmas cheer –

Here’s wishing you a very Happy New Year!!

Published in Acumen, UK and, Kavya Bharati, India.

Testing The Nation

If the Hundred Years’ War lasted a hundred and sixteen,
and the October Revolution took place in November

If Chinese gooseberries are from New Zealand
and Panama hats from Equador

If cat gut is made from the bowels of sheep and other
animals, and camel’s hair brush from squirrel fur

If the Canary Islands were named after dogs
and King George VI’s first name was Albert

If English muffins are not from England,
nor French fries from France –

Waht is rong if r chilren
canot reed or rite, lak comun sens,
tink egs do not gro in Grate Britun
and potatos r milkt from caus? *

* Answers given by children in a London primary school when asked where eggs and potatoes came from.

Published in Journal of Postcolonial Writing, UK.


Your first breath           a wild peacock-cry
your clear protest at entering our world;

The umbilical cord severed,
nurse confirmed            a perfect daughter.

Happiness overflowed            my milk dried up.
A woman’s life is hard; how am I to protect you?

The curl of your lips, eyebrows            all mine,
the sickle cells in our     blood our shared DNA;

Shrine of your immaculate body entrusted in my hands.
This the moment of renunciation,
remembering women in whose footsteps we walk –

Mother, grandmother, great-grandmother,
linking us all the way back through Time;

Celebrating the journey, memories of places
Travelled       together, apart      shared –

Mother, daughter flowing      from glacier
head of soul mountain to a drop in the ocean.
Tree of life      leaves waving in the sun.

You tug me back peering into my eyes,
we contemplate each other      ancient enemies, best friends.

I barely blinked, yet fifty years have flown.
No need to explain the chain is now broken.

You have so much to give! You stand there alone
free, ready for flight, not frozen in fear,
trapped in relationships.

Published in Journal of the Poetry Society, India, and in Exiled Ink, UK.


The image in the mirror is no longer frozen
in an unimaginable longing.

A participant in life’s carnival, I prepare for illusion.

Elizabeth Arden’s flawless finish foundation frosts
on skin breathing Shahnaz Hussain’s sandalwood face cream.
Givenchy’s mascara thickens and lengthens eyelashes,
rosewood powder blushes on cheeks. My mask is complete
with desire red, double colour, everlasting Estee Lauder lipstick.
I spray myself generously with Nirvana and Samsara.

I travel towards what end I cannot say –

Along the way, those I meet and those I do not,
all the things that happen to me and those that do not
keep defining me in some inexplicable way.
Daily the mirror mocks my wrinkles, streaks of grey.

If I am the result of unrepeatable circumstances,
what use is there in seeking escape from self-enunciation?
In the end we are all dead. The days become my shringara.

First published in Ariel (Canada) in 1998; in the same year the poem appeared in Agenda (UK) and in Kavya Bharati (India). In 2009, the poem was included in the anthology Indian English Women Poets (India), and appears in its current version in Imagine: New and Selected Poems by Shanta Acharya.


In every city I visit, in every cathedral or mosque,
pagoda or temple, gurudwara or synagogue –

in every space enroute to a kind of self-discovery,
I light a candle, offer a prayer.

With every prayer, I wish for things –
some material, others not so tangible, for myself
and others I’ve loved more than you.

All through the hours of my worship I converse with you,
ask why you’ve withheld the gifts I value most?

You led me to believe you love me –
sometimes, you fulfil the smallest desire of mine.
Why do you leave me in such uncertainty?

Don’t know why I presume you might listen
more carefully to my entreaties in a foreign land.
I am the one on holiday, not you.

Sharing my thoughts, I keep hoping
you will talk to me through your silence.

How can I forget it was you
who taught me to accept my need for you?

I try to recall my state of bliss before I was born,
before I demanded my own life separate from you.

If you got hurt you never showed me,
your love kept watch as I lived and got hurt.

How was I to know the consequences of my deeds?
Why did you not protect me from myself?

My loneliness has brought me back to where I’d begun.
I’ve nowhere else to go, don’t turn me away again on
another journey of self-discovery for I am done.

First published in New Hope International (UK) in 1999. In 2003, it appeared in a slightly different version in Poetry Nottingham International (UK) and in 2014, the poem was included in the anthology Wings Over the Mahanadi (India), and is due to appear in its current version in her forthcoming collection.