A Poem by Rochelle Potkar


Skirt


I.


I watch a video of women cycling in short dresses talking of how not to flash.
They wide-angle their legs, pull the back of their skirts
and with a coin and a rubber band marry it to the front of their skirts;
it becomes a pant.

I think of their legs in the sun, delicately agile on swerving bicycles.

In the country where I live, clothes that show leg, armpit, curve of breast invite brutality.
Not postcard beauty.

Veils, purdahs, stoles, dupattas, and leggings are needed to cover up.

Short skirts are not about fashion or suiting body types, but about freedom.

One day we will get there: cycling in the sun on slippery rain-kissed paths
where smaller solutions will be our search
the larger ones done.

We will divide the skirt into a pant.

Or maybe not even.

II.


The women in the video talk back.
They turn and smile their gorgeous smiles.
“Yes we wear skirts and show our thighs,” they say.
“But freedom is relative like time, like poverty.”

“We might not get killed but don’t ever think nothing else happens to us.”

“Did you know of the woman who walked 10 hours
on a social experiment through New York
and collected 108 vile propositions?”

“Your culture compels you to hide than show.
We want that.
So we don’t have to be doll-sexy all the time.
… to prove our beauty, femininity.
Our thighs can be. Our anatomy...
We.”

“If we wrap ourselves in yards and yards like in your country
we are looked at as regressed, unsexy.”

III.


The women in the video and I turn to you:

Why should the world be telling us what is less and what is more?
How we should wear what we wear in this tug of fabric, fabric of war?
Five centimetres or nine yards, head naked or covered up,
Waist seen or shown?

Why is the world telling us what to wear? All the time?
Why is this our most silent, daily question:
‘what to wear?’
And is it for ourselves or for someone else that we ask this?



(More Poems by Rochelle Potkar  )


A Poem by Carlos Juárez Aldazábal


The Bottle (El Frasco)

At times I fake it and I don't write.
-Raúl Aráoz Anzoátegui


I own an ink-bottle
it writes emerald on top of time,
its script is smaragdine.
It is a blue flask
like celestial hope ruined by the vultures,
it is a flask of adobe brick oven
that reminds the proud stove-stoker
of asphalt’s perpetual martyrdom.
I have in my ownership an ink-bottle.


At times I am careless
and word river chokes my alphabet,
it smashes the stream-banks
with ocean-fed river,
the bottle finishes me.

At times I mess up
instead of laying ink
I discharge the contents onto my pulse,
and the flask blackens
as the hearts of two dead lovers
who died in the denuded hour of loves-mosts.

I own a bottle of ink.
I am fear-struck the thought
of fear taking it away from me.



(More poem by Carlos Juárez Aldazábal)

 


A Poem by Arturo Desimone


Poem-verse to the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, a fan of poetry,

1)


PM I lived under your long night,
Your half-hydrocephalic head rippled
In the land of drought and thirst.
Small and sunken sow-eyes behind technician’s goggles,
Glasses of a private plane aviator.
Pm before coronation you acted a part
in the play by the Curaçaoan islander-playwright Arion,
your role: of a pirate boy, protestant vicar's son
who slept on aloe
to chastise himself for dreams not of his karakter,
dreams not of his sediment, those yield from
the tropical temperament outside of him
he sweated Fat Amor Gana out of himself without
need for the saunas
of Finland necessary under that biggest, coldest of suns
sun that bruises the brows and buns of giantesses, negresses.
(All negresses, tall and short
Have fair laughs and the buns of giantesses.)

PM I lived under the harsh cold
Of the sauna you made of your country
That I emigrated to, a broken
Shipwreck at age 21, arrived by KLM to Schiphol.
I sucked fat from the bone-rays
Of that bicycle sun you spun into action,
The participatory Aryan sun-disc calendar
Of speedy reductions, taking back the gifts
Of crutches, recycling the plastic and baking eggs
Of the Teflon that had once replaced
The pirate’s pegleg for those genetically landlocked in the low-sea-level
Birthland of pirates.
 


( More poems by  Arturo Desimone )


A Poem by  Adela Busquet
(Buenos Aires, 1987)

THE URGE IN ME INSISTS

 

The urge insists inside me.

To play the ox

for the evil wagon.

Insistent, the sovereign

decrepitude.

Acting the ox,

bound

neither to the wagon

nor on the road.

It insists, as if saying

go back.

 

To fight without opponents,

know,

if you throw dust

dust falls.

 

A Thing that takes, or that carries

does not drag,

a fighter stays in good weight.

 

Insist, as in wanting.

Like having let loose.

Insist the wheel

to wheel off its spoke

and to the spindle, insist, insist.

 *

About two days ago I saw a black man,

the negro crying, looking

at a beggar who was a Malvinas veteran.

He gave two him pesos and dried his face

with his wool cap.

In Plaza Miserere, under the subway

He carried three big valises

a Chicago Bulls backpack.

I understood he brought these suitcases from his country.

Never, until then, had I

seen a black man cry.

 This is the title poem of Leli's (Adela's) book Insiste en mí la gana, published by Melón Editora books in 2014 in Argentina.
 


"*Translator's note: my urge to translate this poem relates to the ending--the theophany or vision of Adela when she sees a black tourist from United States wiping the face of an Argentine veteran of the Malvinas wars (the war between the Argentine regime and England over the Malvinas island colonies, in which many very young Argentine soldiers drafted by the regime were killed, wounded or otherwise traumatized.) For most Argentinians born in the 20th century, it was a rarity to ever see black people--black as in African-descended black people--until the 1990s, when Senegalese merchants began to immigrate and today sell their wares in areas of Buenos Aires. Before then, most Argentinians, unless they had travelled outside of their immense country (one-third the size of India), had seldom or never seen black people. Because I was born and raised in the Caribbean, where some my earliest memories involve black people, while my father was an Argentinian exile from the regime period, I found this naivete especially curious and hope to have communicated, across languages, the sincerity in the vision of Adela at Plaza Miserere in Buenos Aires. Adela's vision takes place in the new Argentina after the country's humiliation by the financial devastation and instability of the crisis of 2001, period after which the Argentinian cultural self-image changed considerably. I hope my attempt to give some historical -cultural context does not impede on the reading experience of Adela's poem.


A Poem by Sheri Vandermolen


Self


You strip yourself of corporate servitude,
select a tribal-punk batik shirt,
soft linen pants, bright-red leather shoes,
which impart to you the fluidity
of a Kannada line rolling off the tongue
of Sandalwood star Sudeep.

You have slipped into the sustaining comfort
of self.



( More poems by Sheri Vandermolen
)
 


A Poem by   M.R. Renukumar

Green Bottle


When feverish
Will remember mother.

The nap on the lap
The rhythm on the thigh
The humming song
That pecks at the pains
The ginger coffee
And its saulting sauce and sourness
The broken rice gruel
The lemon pickle
All will chase
In frenzy.

When the fever abates
Will remember Appan.

The yellow
Of tapioca curry
And mathi peera.
The crispness of grilled karimeen
The smell of toddy in the green bottle
The slumber on the road
The wanton looks smeared in rage
The stroke of the dog’s tongue
The digital sound effects
Of crickets
And bats.
The reality (body) show
That knocks at the waist in the dark.
The love welded
In the yellow light of
Fire flies.
All will trail behind
Skidding and skewing.

Will remember mother
Only when feverish.
Once, or twice in a year.
The days not remembering Appan
Are few.
 

#Father.
#Sardine stir fry.
#A variety of freshwater fish, and a favouirite while drinking toddy
 

Translated by Shyma Pacha.


Poems of Arjun Rajendran

Ours

When finally, she ordered her piano, we rushed
to retrieve her notes from the locker.
We thought it a bit strange the key didn’t work.
That’s odd, we were told, by the guys we leased
it from; courteous and deodorized.
Here’s a new key. Great except what was
inside wasn’t ours. A burglar, they decided,
in that office near the pool. Later, the cop
didn’t concur. No signs of forced entry.
And what was ours joined the fate of deportees.
Those notes, handwritten in Calcutta over
the years, moved with us as we moved through
school and jobs, scaling the slippery ladder
of immigration,sipping dollar wines, two presidents
and wars not ours. Sue them! we were told.



( More poems of Arjun Rajendran )


Poem Of Pupul Dutta Prasad

Kochi


What makes this old city so cool?
It is never sore
when people leave its shore.
When new people arrive
and call it their home,
that gives it a high.
Its pulse races,
its heart swells.
It ceases to be old.

( More poems of Pupul Dutta Prasad)

 


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